Monday, April 15, 2024

Personal Injury Settlement: Should I Take the Money or Go to Trial?

In some accident cases, going to trial may not be a practical option. In many cases, however, a person injured in an accident may have the choice to either accept the personal injury settlement amount the guilty party or the guilty party’s insurance company agrees to pay or take the case to trial.  If you’re like many accident victims in this situation, you may be confused about whether it’s better to accept the personal injury settlement or go to trial.

What are the implications of each option? In which types of scenarios is an out-of-court personal injury settlement the best choice? In what situations might a trial be a better option? Here we provide some points to consider, along with the opinion of your lawyer, so you can make an informed decision.

When is it Best to Settle a Personal Injury Case?

If your attorney says that the insurance company or the at-fault party who caused your injury has made a fair offer, it is often best to accept an out-of-court settlement. If, however, your lawyer thinks you have a strong case, and that the amount of the proposed personal injury settlement is insufficient, you could be passing up significantly more money.

Accepting a settlement can bring you peace of mind and closure if the settlement amount is truly sufficient to cover your expenses. And, if you’re uncertain whether your case is strong enough to win in court, accepting a personal injury settlement could very well be the better choice.

When is it Better to Take a Personal Injury Case to Trial?

Sometimes an accident victim has a strong case to support the need for a significant settlement for injuries and damages, yet the insurance company or guilty party seems unwilling to negotiate a fair settlement. If such is the situation you’re facing, going to trial may be your best option, especially if the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is fast approaching. After the designated time period expires, you won’t be permitted to file a case.

Your lawyer can advise you of the most likely result if the case goes to court. While in many situations, it’s better to settle, if you’re not offered fair compensation, and your lawyer believes your case has an excellent chance of success, taking it to court could be the best option.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Personal Injury Settlement?

When you sign on with a lawyer, a case will be compiled by collecting evidence and key information about the incident that caused your injuries. Any available information to support your case, like reports by law enforcement agencies, witness statements, medical records, photo or video evidence, testimony from medical or applicable subject matter experts will be gathered.

Your attorney will then document your claim and present it to the at-fault party or their insurance company. In a best-case scenario, a prompt response will come, with a fair offer of compensation, and an out-of-court settlement may be possible within a few weeks. But each individual case varies greatly. There is no way to accurately predict precisely how long it may take to receive a check.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Trial Take?

If you ask for excessive compensation, and/or your charge of negligence isn’t backed up by hard evidence, it could take a year, or perhaps longer for a trial to be scheduled and completed. The verdict could be uncertain. And, there is some risk that the at-fault party or their insurance company will attempt to extend the length of the process.

But if your case is strong, the evidence convincing, the trial could be completed in a few months, especially if the amount you seek is relatively reasonable, in keeping with the extent of your injuries.

Still Undecided? Here Are Some Pros and Cons of Accepting a Personal Injury Settlement

There is a wealth of articles like this one providing information from experts, conveying the advantages and disadvantages of personal injury settlements. It can help to explore varied viewpoints. But the basic facts remain. The following is a simplified breakdown of the bottom line factors to consider when weighing the merits of personal injury settlements versus court cases.

Accepting a personal injury settlement could be the right choice because:

  • You’ll likely have your money faster.
  • The burden of producing definitive evidence is less.
  • In a settlement, you have the power of negotiation.
  • Accepting a settlement eliminates the risk of losing all chances of compensation by losing the case.

But accepting a settlement also means:

  • You could be passing up a significant amount of cash if you have a solid case.
  • A settlement is permanent. You won’t be able to ask for further compensation, should your condition worsen – your damages increase.
  • You won’t have the sense of justice being served that you would have if you won a court case.

Each personal injury case is unique. If your case is deemed by a skilled lawyer to have an excellent chance of success if taken to trial, you, as an injured person, are entitled to make the decision that seems best regarding whether to be satisfied with the money offered as a personal injury settlement or send the case to court. The choice may seem difficult, but with your lawyer’s advice, you should be able to make an informed decision regarding the best course of action, in the interest of receiving fair compensation.

Hank Pedro
the authorHank Pedro