The simple truth of the matter is very few. Government statistics say only about 4 to 5 percent of personal injury claims end up before a judge and jury.
The courts move slowly, even with recent changes in some states intended to speed up the trial process, and it can even take several years to reach a verdict.
If someone’s negligence physically harmed you, speak with a personal injury attorney before you decide what to do next.
The National Data Is Staggering
According to the CDC, nationwide, there are 16.2 million injury-related emergency room visits every year requiring hospitalization, and 2.3 million of these patients end up in critical care units.
Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in America. Car accidents injure three million people every year, and medical errors account for 10 percent of all deaths in the country.
Personal injuries are common; they stem from motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, defective products, dangerous property, medical negligence, and even animal attacks.
There is no industry standard in personal injury law when it comes to whether or not a claim will settle or end in litigation.
The cases and causes are as varied and unique as the 2.3 million accident victims who end up in intensive care units every year across America.
It mostly comes down to leverage. The strength of any personal injury claim depends on:
The experience of a personal injury lawyer
The best way to seek justice and financial compensation after an accident is to locate a local law firm with a working relationship with medical professionals (neurologists, surgeons, physical therapists, and mental health providers) who can prove the often catastrophic physical consequences of a personal injury.
A local lawyer is a regular presence in the courthouse. He or she has valuable insights into the inner workings of its policies and procedures and knows the judges and court clerks in your area.
The insurance company, or companies, who are involved in the claim
In almost all personal injury claims, the person or business responsible for the damage will have some form of insurance policy in place to cover any liability.
The insurance industry is a thriving business. Like any business, they are profit-driven. Insurance companies defending personal injury claims do not consider a victim’s best interest a high priority. Their team of lawyers, claim adjusters, and investigators has a single goal in mind to pay out as little as possible.
They are trained to use every available resource at their disposal to discredit, reduce, or outright deny a plaintiff’s request for financial compensation. Don’t let this happen. You have legal options, and a personal injury attorney will help you level the playing field. Without one in your corner, you may not fully recover what you lost.
The Pros and Cons of Settlement versus Trial
#1. Benefits of settling
When settling a claim out of court, an injured party retains a large measure of control of the situation. Through the negotiation process, a plaintiff and his or her attorney can keep the lines of communications open until an acceptable monetary amount is agreed on.
When all is said and done, a settlement is less stressful, faster, and less expensive than a trial. A settlement is a private affair, and often victims are hesitant to be thrust into the public eye. Privacy matters to some people.
During a settlement process, the victim can decide to stop negotiations and move on to a trial. Financially, a settlement is often a guaranteed win, especially if the victim and their family have mounting medical bills and lost wages to consider.
#2. The drawbacks of settling
There are some drawbacks to accepting a personal injury settlement. A settlement is a permanent decision there is no possibility of an appeal, not even if a victim’s injury worsens over time.
There is always the possibility of accepting less money than a jury could award at trial.
#3. The benefits of a trial
Going through a trial, although time-consuming, sometimes affords a victim a better outcome. Sometimes those injured simply want to see justice done. A judge and/or jury may award an accident victim significantly more money than a settlement.
Some possible reasons why a personal injury case may end up in court include:
- Neither the defendant nor the plaintiff can agree on who caused the accident
- The plaintiff wants a monetary amount well beyond the final settlement offer
The disadvantages of a trial
Staying the course and taking a personal injury claim to trial is a long and often drawn-out process. Court costs can easily eat away at a monetary award, and additionally, there is always the possibility of walking away with nothing.
Certain Factors May Influence a Settlement Offer
- The severity of the injuries
- The permanency of the injury/long-term disability
- The actual cost of treatment
- Projected future medical expenses
- The victim’s lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
- The age, educational background, and family situation of the injured party
If someone’s negligence harmed you, do not avoid delay in seeking counsel. A personal injury lawyer is a valuable advisor who can explain your legal rights and your obligations in initiating a case.
Seek a lawyer who is an experienced negotiator and litigator. Don’t discount the legal obstacles and complexities involved in obtaining restitution and relief. Waiting even several months could prevent you and your family from receiving financial compensation.