There are basically two ways to resolve your personal injury claim: settle it or go to trial. Most times, you and your attorney will first try to negotiate an agreement on how to conclude the case fairly. If both sides can’t reach an accord, then the matter goes to court for a judge or jury to resolve.
If your attorney recommends that you settle, then you may have questions. Are you giving up too soon? Don’t you have to go to court to get the best compensation for your case?
Not necessarily. Below is an overview of some reasons why it may be in your best interests to settle. An estimated 90 to 95% of personal injury cases end up settling out of court, likely after these factors are taken into account.
It’s less stressful
Litigation is extremely stressful, no matter how much your attorney will prepare you. You’ll be facing a roomful of strangers, dealing with difficult questions while the entire courtroom listens intently to your every word. If you settle, then you don’t have to appear in court.
It’s less expensive
Going to court is expensive. Attorney fees can go up, and you may need expert witnesses who charge for their time and expertise. When you settle, you avoid these added costs.
Resolution is faster
Once you accept a settlement, your case is over. There are no court proceedings that you have to attend, and settlements generally can’t be appealed. If you want to get compensation as quickly as possible and the amount offered appears to be fair, then you might want to settle instead of going to trial.
You’re more likely to collect
If someone hit you with their car, causing catastrophic injuries, then a court could order them to pay you if they refuse to offer a fair settlement, but there are ways they can delay or avoid the responsibility, like filing an appeal or declaring bankruptcy. When you accept a settlement, you’re much more likely to get the money.
If you’re trying to decide whether to settle or litigate, then it is important to understand that settlement is all about compromise, and you could potentially get less than a judge or jury would award. Similarly, if you go to trial, then you could get less than the defendant originally offered.
It’s not always an easy decision to make. Your attorney will go over the potential risks compared to the rewards of accepting a settlement offer. There may be times when you have to litigate: for example, the defendant makes a ridiculously low offer. But if a settlement is fair, accepting it now can spare you the time, stress, and expense of trial as well as a possibly low award.
Jayson Lutzky is a personal injury lawyer with over 37 years of experience. He offers free initial consultations and can be reached at 718-514-6619. Learn more at mynewyorkcitylawyer.com/accidents.