Most personal injury cases settle out of court and typically well before a trial date. Here we look at why that occurs and what it means for a plaintiff and defendant.
When someone is injured in an accident caused by the negligence of others, there are two paths toward compensation. The first is accepting a settlement negotiated between the involved parties out of court. The second is by going to trial and obtaining a judgment.
While judgments obtained at trial can be substantial in certain cases, there is always risk associated with trying a case, which is why most lawsuits are settled prior to trial, and sometimes even before a lawsuit is filed.
Understanding Personal Injury Settlements
A personal injury settlement occurs when an injured person accepts an offer of money to conclude their claim for damages. This can occur at any time after an injury takes place including:
- After the injury takes place but before the initial injury claim is filed
- After a lawsuit has been filed but before trial
- At any point during or after trial, including when a case is on appeal
Once the parties agree to a settlement, the plaintiff is typically required to sign a release stating that all of their legal claims have been resolved against the person or company paying the settlement dollars.
Insurance Companies and Settlements
Insurance companies are in the business of litigation and plan for the risk of claims against their clients. Insurance companies view personal injury claims purely from a business standpoint. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a claim, in addition to the perceived risk of financial loss, and proceed accordingly. When the claim is viable and there is a risk of a judgment in favor of the injured person, the insurance company may offer to settle the claim.
Why Most Personal Injury Cases Settle?
There are many reasons why personal injury cases settle out of court including:
- Allows defendants to control the legal costs of a trial and potential payout. If the case against the defendant is strong, they may want to attempt to settle early and avoid both their own legal fees and a potentially large trial verdict.
- A settlement will prevent the case from being seen publically. News like this may cause negative publicity for the defendant and hurt their public image. The defendant may also ask the plaintiff to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure the settlement is kept quiet.
- A plaintiff may want to ensure a positive outcome in the case regardless of the total monetary gain. Personal injury cases can be a prolonged process and rewards are not decided until the end.
Getting The Right Settlement
An experienced personal injury lawyer can conduct an effective factual investigation, file all necessary paperwork, negotiate with third-parties, and, if necessary, take your case to trial. At The Reinartz Law Firm, we are prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. We will work with you to understand your rights and allow you to make informed decisions about your case, whether that means accepting a settlement offer or going to trial. We work on a pure contingency basis, which means we only get paid when we recover compensation for you. We offer a free consultation and encourage you to contact us today to get started.