A personal injury case is a civil claim. These can typically be resolved in one of two ways. It could involve an out-of-court personal injury settlement or a judgment by a jury in a lawsuit. The majority of cases are typically solved out of court, through negotiations with the insurance company or the defendant through mediation.
There are various pros and cons related to settling a personal injury case in court or out of court, as will be discussed in this article.
The Pros of Settling Your Personal Injury Case Out of Court
The following are the benefits of settling your personal injury case out of court:
You Get More Privacy
When a personal injury case goes to trial, the related legal proceedings become public records. You would be better off keeping your case details private if you settle your claim out of court.
The Case is Resolved Faster
If your case is taken to trial, it will take more time to solve it. This can take from months to years. To get a faster resolution of your case, the better choice would be to settle your claim out of court.
Results in Less Stress for You
Dealing with a personal injury case is both time-consuming and nerve-wracking. It may take a toll on you psychologically. Settling your case out of court helps avoid that stress.
It is Simpler and More Predictable
Making an out-of-court settlement for your personal injury case can be simpler. It also guarantees you a certain amount of payment. On the other hand, going the trial route is both time-consuming and often unpredictable in terms of payment awarded.
Involves Less Legal Fees
Settling a personal injury case out of court involves less legal fees. There will be less paperwork involved. Lawyers fees will be reduced as they will take less time to prepare and present your case.
The Cons of Settling Your Personal Injury Case Out of Court
Getting Less Compensation Than You Deserve
If you choose to get your case settled out of court, there is every possibility that you will get a lower settlement amount compared to what you would have gotten through a lawsuit. This is particularly in cases where there is severe harm to the body or mind, and where the insurance policy is not good enough to cover all the expenses.
Unnecessary Delay by the Insurance Company
Even though the out-of-court settlement process is faster, the insurance company may use delay tactics to force you to settle for less than what you deserve.
The Settlement Awarded is Permanent
Once a claimant accepts an offer, they cannot claim further compensation for their losses. This is even if their injuries become more severe later on, or new injuries are discovered after settlement.
No Option to Seek Punitive Damages
Settling out of court means that you cannot claim punitive damages. They can be claimed only in a lawsuit, where cases involve willful misconduct or gross negligence.
The Pros of Taking Your Case to Court
Just as with settling out of court, taking your personal injury case to trial comes with some advantages and disadvantages. Below are some of the benefits of resolving your injury case in court.
The Jury Verdict is generally Greater than the Pre-Trial Settlement Amount. While a settlement award may be bounded by the insurance policy amount, filing a lawsuit will help you get the greater amount that you deserve.
You May Hold the Party at Fault Responsible. You will be able to hold the defendant responsible for their negligent behavior, unlike in the case of settlement by the insurance company.
The Case Is Resolved by an Unbiased Party. The judge and the jury will make a decision based solely on the circumstances of the case.
You May Receive Punitive Damages. Filing a lawsuit enables you to get punitive damages. However, this is only in the case of wilful misconduct or gross negligence.
The Cons of Taking Your Case to Court
Now that the benefits are established, below are some of the disadvantages of resolving your personal injury case in court.
Trials are unpredictable. It is impossible to predict the outcome of legal proceedings.
Litigation can be lengthy. Court trials can last for months or even years, depending on the complications involved.
It can be a costlier approach. Court trials typically result in a sizable amount going towards fees and other expenses.
Legal proceedings are public records. If you want to keep your case out of the public domain, it is better to go for an out-of-court settlement. Trial proceedings become public records.
You have the burden of proving the fault: An Orange County personal injury lawyer can prepare a solid case to get a favorable outcome if it is going to trial. The plaintiff has the burden to prove that the defendant was responsible for their injuries.
Trust Your Lawyer
Now that we have both sides of the picture regarding the pros and cons of settling in court versus settling out of court, you will be in a better position to look at which option would be the best for you. In general, it’s best to find a legal professional who you trust and who can guide you towards the best option for your case.