Anyone who is familiar with how lawsuits work probably understands that going to trial involves more time, effort, stress, and of course, money. Settling out of court can reduce all of this and be less risky as well. This is what usually happens in the majority of personal injury cases, but there is never any guarantee. Only about five percent of these cases end up going to trial, and there are advantages and disadvantages to doing so. First, plaintiffs can end up winning more in damages in trials, but then again, they could end up getting nothing. It can be compared to gambling; it is not possible to predict the outcome, and there can be a lot at risk.
Why Would My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
A lot of this will depend on the defendant’s insurance company. If they believe they would win the case, they might offer a substantially lower settlement or none at all. Or the company might want to avoid setting a precedent for settling that kind of personal injury suit. In some situations, a lawyer demands too much in damages, and the insurance company will not want to settle and will choose to fight. There are also cases in which the defendant’s negligence was serious enough that it should be made an example of in court, for the greater public good.
Insurance companies will be more likely to settle if they are confident that the plaintiff’s suit would be successful in court. Settling would save them from paying fees and court costs. Or, if the settlement offered by the plaintiff’s lawyer is reasonable, the insurance company would probably rather settle to save money.
The main reason to avoid a trial is the uncertainty. Unexpected surprises tend to come up when people least expect them, and cases can be impacted in different ways. Throughout the discovery phase, both sides exchange information to help build up evidence. During this time, plaintiffs and defendants can say the wrong things or damaging evidence can be found. During the trial, a judge might make an incorrect evidentiary ruling, a witness can buckle during cross-examination, or something else could suddenly happen. There is the option of an appeal afterward, but these do not reverse all trial decisions and cost even more money.
Other Benefits of Not Going to Trial
The litigation process can be quite stressful for plaintiffs and defendants, whether they are private citizens or corporate representatives. Telling the story or defending oneself in front of strangers can be disconcerting, especially if the events were painful. There is also the added worry that something unsuspected will be revealed. People prefer settlements because there is a guaranteed amount of money, and defendants are usually not required to admit any liability. This can be better for their public image. In addition to that, plaintiffs receive their payments faster than they would after a lengthy trial process.
Keeping all this in mind, it is also important to realize that not all settlements proceed smoothly. Insurance companies may offer a modest settlement at first, and it takes a trained eye to recognize when this happens. Negotiations can take a while and be complicated, and there is usually some give and take for both sides.
Should My Case Go to Trial?
This is not always an easy decision, and a trusted personal injury lawyer is often the best resource to help with this. Lawyers understand that aside from the extent of the injuries and cost of treatment, it is important to consider future medical expenses and the impact on the client’s income and future earning capacity. There may also be property damages and lost wages to consider, along with the client’s age and family situation. A qualified lawyer will also know about the area’s jurisdiction, its community norms, precedence, and how sympathetic a judge or jury will be toward that client’s case.
After taking all of this under advisement, the personal injury lawyer should be able to determine the actual total damages. They can then study the client’s story to establish a general estimate of the case’s worth. A settlement offer may be the better choice because a trial involves more work on the lawyer’s behalf, which leads to higher costs.
How can I Prepare for a Trial?
When a settlement cannot be agreed on and there is no choice but a trial, plaintiffs can prepare themselves by knowing what to expect. The defendant’s insurance provider will proceed to thoroughly investigate every aspect of the case, including the injuries sustained. They will look for ways to prove the plaintiff wrong and will compare the statements with the doctor’s orders. Some use investigators to follow plaintiffs, recording all their moves. Privacy is further reduced in court, when all the case’s details are revealed to the judge and jury.
A court trial also takes more time than one might think. Aside from the actual time in the courthouse, there may be additional negotiations and hearings. Some of these cases can last for several years, which can be draining on the mind and wallet. Once those fees are deducted from awarded damages, the final number could be close to or even less than the original settlement amount. There will also be deadlines that must be followed. Therefore, it is essential to maintain constant open communication with the personal injury lawyer.
Towson Personal Injury Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can Determine if Your Personal Injury Case Should Go to Trial
Insurance companies may offer low settlements to claimants to save money and avoid trials. If you have suffered a personal injury and believe you are not being justly compensated, reach out to the knowledgeable Towson personal injury lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. We can provide experienced counsel and will fight to protect your rights. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.