While most injury cases are settled out of court, many of them are settled before an injury lawsuit is even filed. Choosing to accept an out-of-court settlement has several advantages over taking a case all the way through the court system.
Advantages of Settling a Lawsuit
- The plaintiff usually receives financial compensation much faster than going through the court process.
- The plaintiff avoids certain attorney fees and costs.
- There’s less strain on the plaintiff’s time, with no depositions, hearings, trial, etc.
- The Plaintiff can avoid potentially unpredictable juries.
- The Plaintiff is assured of some type of compensation; unlike going to trial where losing a case and zero compensation is possible.
Advantages of Going to Court
- The plaintiff may potentially receive the full amount of compensation requested.
- The defendant will be ordered by the court to pay compensation if the plaintiff wins.
Settlements Can Be Less Expensive
Usually, in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party makes a contingency fee arrangement with an attorney for legal representation. In most cases, an attorney agrees to around 33 percent of a pre-trial settlement or 40 percent of the amount awarded to the plaintiff if the case goes to trial.
For the defendant, an attorney will be hired at an hourly rate. Compared to settling the case quickly, it can become very expensive for the defendant to pay for a time-intensive court process instead. In addition to paying excessive amounts of money to an attorney, the defendant must also pay the cost for expert witnesses, court charges, and travel expenses. Within a short period, a defendant may accumulate a large amount of legal expenses if a case goes to court for trial.
The sooner a case settles, the less money it costs both parties, especially the defendant who is paying a lawyer an hourly rate. In addition to the aforementioned expenses, the pre-trial discovery period can involve a number of depositions, including those of experts. Some lawyers will pay pre-litigation charges for expert witnesses, but others do not. If a lawyer does pay for certain charges up front, the repayment of these expenses comes to the attorney from an award or settlement amount. If it is abundantly clear that the defendant is liable and the plaintiff’s injuries are clear cut, it benefits both parties to settle early.
However, if the defendant’s lawyer is getting paid by an insurance company, things change in theory. There is an obligation for the insurance company to settle in “good faith” and not settle early just to save litigation costs. So, if a plaintiff proposes or accepts a reasonable offer for settlement, the defendant is not allowed to refuse it just because the bill is being paid by someone else
Generally speaking, most personal injury trials only last a few days, however, the entire process can be terribly stressful for all concerned. Each party may be examined and cross-examined on the witness stand. During this procedure, their character and their past behavior can be publicly scrutinized. The weeks before the trial are usually very intense for both parties and their respective attorneys. On the other hand, in a settlement situation, negotiation leads to an agreement, then the defendant pays the agreed-upon amount to the plaintiff for damages, and the matter is closed.
Unpredictability at Trial
While it is possible that a jury could award a much higher damage amount to a plaintiff than the defendant had offered in a settlement proposition, there is absolutely no guarantee it will happen this way. There is no way to predict how a trial will go. For example, a judge may order key evidence excluded, an eyewitness may appear unreliable to jurors, or the plaintiff may show an inconsistency during testimony. The legal system has morphed to the place where most surprises are removed from the trial process, but there is no way to make it completely infallible.
As unpredictable as it is to easily prove liability, it is even more unpredictable to be able to determine what amount a jury will award to a winning plaintiff. It is purely left up to the jury’s discretion, so any advance speculation is merely an educated guess at best.
With a settlement out of court, there is no guessing. Both sides have negotiated the amount a defendant will be paying. Some states use a method to encourage settlements by making a plaintiff pay the defendant’s lawyer fees if the jury-awarded amount to the plaintiff is less than the defendant’s earlier settlement offer.
Process of Trial and Appeal may Take Years
It is not unusual for a trial to begin more than a year after a lawsuit is filed. Then, further delay can later take place if the losing party of the case decides to appeal the outcome. It is not uncommon for the whole process to take three to four years or longer for the lawsuit to be filed, damages to be awarded, and several appeals to happen. There are many reasons why lawsuits take a long time to completely be resolved.
With a settlement, both parties know the exact amount of money in question and can put the issue out of their minds once the agreed-upon settlement paperwork is signed. Settlements may not be appealed, so the matter is finished.
Privacy of Settlements and Trials
In a personal injury case, it is very rare for a judge to order court records to be sealed, so all the details are open to the public. Every bit of evidence, all testimony from witnesses, and everything else that each side used in an attempt to make the other party look bad is made available for open review. If the personal injury case is settled out of court, both parties are in control of what is made public and what remains private, even the terms of their settlement.
No Liability Must Be Admitted by a Defendant Who Settles
A defendant is declared officially liable for a plaintiff’s injuries if the defendant loses at trial or in subsequent appeals. However, if there is a settlement between the parties, no admission of liability is required from the defendant. While this may not sit well with a plaintiff who wants the defendant’s guilt openly revealed, it does provide a means for the defendant to keep the public from seeing any record of deliberate wrongdoing or negligence. This benefit may sway a defendant to settle the lawsuit.
Paying Expenses Associated With Lawsuits
Regardless of whether your case goes to trial or settles, you will be faced with bills from your attorneys, the court, the hospital, and your daily living expenses. Lawsuit funding is available to help ease the financial tension many personal injury plaintiffs deal with. The Legal Funding Group provides trusted settlement loans that can help you and your family live comfortably while your attorney and/or the court handles your case.
Call (912)-777-3997 or fill out a quick online application to get a lawsuit cash advance.