The prospect of filing for and collecting damages from a personal injury suit may seem daunting, and many people just want to put the case behind them and move forward with their life. Because of this, many personal injury suits are settled long before the courtroom. In fact, upwards of 90-95 percent of personal injury cases are settled out of court, so while it may seem unlikely that your case will end up before a judge, we end up trying numerous cases in a courtroom every year.
But why would a personal injury case need to go before a judge, and will your case need to go this far? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.
Why Not Settle A Personal Injury Case?
There are a number of reasons why the majority of personal injury cases end up with a settlement instead of being decided by a judge. Likely the main reason is because both sides can get something they want out of a settlement agreement. For example, an insurance company can offer a full and complete settlement offer that absolves them of continued payments down the road, and a client can negotiate the amount of their award and some of their additional compensation factors, like types of therapy that will be covered by the insurance company. Both sides get at least part of what they want in a settlement, and oftentimes that’s good enough.
Another reason why many cases settle before heading to a judge is because a settlement provides certainty. Even if you believe you have a strong case, there’s no guarantee the judge will see it that way, and getting a sure thing is oftentimes preferred to the risk of trial. Since both sides stand to lose more at trial than they would be guaranteed in a settlement, oftentimes a deal is struck to provide a sure thing in the face of uncertainty.
You may also believe that only cases with questions or differing points of views end up at trial, but this simply isn’t the case. Many clients have a very strong case and will almost undoubtedly win at trial, and the insurance company knows this. In these scenarios, both sides still have reason to want to strike a deal because it cuts down on additional costs and allows for a faster resolution. You may get the same deal in a settlement that you would in a trial, but the settlement just puts an end to it quicker, allowing the insurance company to focus their efforts on other cases and providing you quicker access to your award.
Both strong cases and weak cases end up settling outside of court the majority of the time, but taking a case to court, or heavily implying that you’re leaning in this direction, is often a tactic we take with the insurance company. Not only does it send the message that we believe that we have a strong case and we’re confident that the judge will see it that way, but it also helps to provide leverage in negotiations. If an insurance company is negotiating two identical settlements, and one party has made it clear they just want to settle and move on with their life while the other case is willing to go to court to get what they believe is fair, it’s obvious which settlement offer is going to be larger.
For the right client, leveraging that you plan on taking your case before a judge can significantly increase your settlement award offer, so it’s something we do with most of our clients. That being said, if we walked away from settlement talks as a bluff and it’s clear that our case is weak, an insurance company may be happy to go to court. Knowing your strengths, putting together an airtight case and properly evaluating your injury’s worth are all important aspects in determining whether or not you should seriously consider taking your case before a judge, even if you end up settling down the road. With the right injury lawyer beside you, planning on taking your case to court oftentimes yields a larger settlement award, and it leaves you better prepared for trial on the off chance that settlement talks break down.
To learn more about settlements or trial cases, or for help with your injury case, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Hey Workers today.