Many people who have found themselves dealing with a personal injury claim worry about whether they will have to go to court. Is it better to settle or go to court? If you get a settlement offer, is it better to take it?
What about insurance companies: do they prefer to agree on a settlement, or do they usually want to go to court?
The vast majority of personal injury claims settle out of court. However, some claims will have to go to court for a verdict. Take a look at these common factors involved in settlements or court verdicts.
Is It Better to Settle or Go to Court?
Ultimately, you and your lawyer want to recover as much compensation as possible for your injuries. Most of the time, you can do that through an out-of-court settlement, usually reached through negotiation with the insurance company. However, it may take several rounds of negotiation before you arrive at a reasonable settlement agreement for your needs, and you must plan for that, both financially and emotionally, as you decide how to manage your claim.
Consider these factors to help you determine whether settling out of court or going to court to settle your accident claim offers the best advantage for your claim.
Going to Court May Increase the Time Needed to Reach a Settlement Agreement.
If you have to take your claim to court, you will have to apply and wait for a court date. Sometimes that can take considerable time, especially if the liable party does not immediately agree to a court date or tries to put it off longer. For you, that may mean waiting longer before you have the funds you deserve in hand.
Going to Court May Not Substantially Increase the Compensation You Can Recover.
Whether you can recover more compensation by going to court over your personal injury claim may depend on what the insurance company has already offered.
If the insurance company has already offered the plan’s maximum compensation, for example, you may find that you cannot get much more by taking your claim to court, even if you have much more substantial injuries. In some cases, going to court may even reduce the compensation the insurance company ultimately has to pay out to you, including circumstances when the insurance company has already made a fair offer.
However, in other cases, going to court may benefit your claim. You may have an easier time proving to a jury that you deserve compensation based on the other party’s negligence, that you did not contribute to the accident, or that you do deserve the compensation you have claimed based on your injuries.
A lawyer can help you determine whether you can increase your compensation by going to court.
Do Insurance Companies Want to Settle Out of Court?
Most insurance companies prefer to settle out of court if at all possible. Going to court increases their legal fees substantially, and they may end up paying considerably more than they would if they offered you the compensation you really deserve for your injuries.
However, some big insurance companies have legal teams standing by who can take over those court battles quickly, and they may not have as much to lose by taking a claim to court. Insurance companies will also go to court over a claim if they feel it is in the company’s best interest.
Generally, insurance companies will try to come to a settlement agreement if they can. However, if they cannot, they do have legal teams and representation that can assist them.
Will My Claim Have to Go to Court?
Some personal injury claims have a greater likelihood of going to court than others. A lawyer can help discuss your odds of having to go to court and how you can increase your ability to recover the compensation you deserve.
The Insurance Company Disputes Liability for the Accident
In some cases, it may be difficult to determine exactly how the accident occurred and the insurance company may fight to prove that another party, rather than the party insured by the company, caused the accident. Suppose, for example, that you suffered a spinal cord injury in a fall down some stairs.
The insurance company might try to prove that you behaved negligently: that you had something in your hands, that you took the stairs unsafely, or that you wore dangerous footwear for example.
Your lawyer, on the other hand, might try to prove that the business or property owner failed to properly maintain the stairs, which caused the accident. In cases of disputed liability, you have better odds of going to court than if the liable party simply accepts responsibility for the accident.
You Sustained Severe Injuries
Some types of injuries may require more substantial medical care than others and, therefore, leave you in need of considerably more compensation. For example, if you suffer limb loss in an accident, you may have a long road to recovery. Likewise, a traumatic brain injury may require considerable time and therapy before you get back to normal. The higher your medical costs grow, the more compensation you have to ask for. In the case of severe injuries and an immense payout, the insurance company might prove more likely to go to court over the claim.
The Insurance Company Disputes the Extent of Your Injuries or Your Treatment
Sometimes, the insurance company might try to prove that your injuries do not really cause the limitations you claim as part of your lawsuit, or that you did not actually need certain medical procedures that substantially increased your costs during your recovery.
If the insurance company disputes those elements, you may find yourself going to court to prove that you deserve the full compensation you and your attorney asked for.
If you do have to go to court over a personal injury claim, an attorney can make a huge difference. Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your likelihood of going to court and the challenges you may face.