Contrary to popular belief, most personal injury cases don’t make it to trial. In fact, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, out of the hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims filed each year only 2% go to trial. But why is this the case? It all has to do with the fact that there’s an alternative option known as a settlement, which can happen at any point between the incident occurring and just before a jury delivers its verdict.
Alternatives to Trial
There are three main alternatives to going to trial in a personal injury case. These are settlements, mediation, and arbitration. You’ve likely heard of settlements before in regards to personal injury cases. These are when the plaintiff and the insurance company or defendant are able to come to an agreement on the amount of compensation the plaintiff deserves. This may seem like a tall order, but it often benefits both sides in the end.
Mediation and Arbitration are two ways of reaching a settlement that don’t directly rely on the lawyers and insurance companies coming to an agreement on their own. As mediation implies, this strategy uses a third party as a mediator who attempts to find an outcome all parties will accept. Arbitration is a bit different in that a third party arbiter determines how the settlement should play out rather than simply mediating between the two (or more) sides.
Why Settlements are so Common
There are three main reasons as to why settlements are so common: trials are expensive, trials take a long time, and juries can be unpredictable. Because of these, it is often in the best interest of both sides to come to an agreement before a lawsuit even needs to be formally filed.
Expensive and time consuming trials are not good for either side involved. The insurance companies do not want to be forced to spend any more money than they already might need to, and the cost of a trial will end up coming out of whatever damages you recover in the end. Further, because trials often take up to a year before truly beginning, and can take years after that for all of the appeals to be complete, this means you will have to wait to receive any compensation you may be awarded. If your medical bills are piling up due to the injuries you received from the accident, waiting may very well not be an option.
The other major drawback of a trial is jury unpredictability. With a settlement you know exactly what you are going to be awarded in the end, but with a jury trial that isn’t the case. It may turn out that you receive more than you expected, but at the same time, it’s also possible that you receive less, or potentially nothing at all. A settlement is often the only way to guarantee compensation for your injuries. And the same is true for the insurance company. While they may end up not having to pay for your injuries at all, they risk having little control over what they will have to pay if going to trial.
When to go to Trial
Despite settlements often being an appealing option for both sides, there are still cases in which your claim will have to go to a jury trial. The most obvious reason is simply when both sides cannot come to an agreement regarding the amount that should be paid. Other times the insurance company may refuse to settle, that is, until a lawsuit is formally filed. However, there are some instances in which it may be advantageous to go to trial, such as if the county is known for being plaintiff-friendly in its verdicts and you are someone who the jurors will be able to identify with.
The other reason cases are sometimes forced into a trial is when there are multiple victims, defendants, and insurance companies involved. It only takes one person deciding not to settle for everyone else to be sent to court.
While there are many reasons why a settlement is often an appealing choice for a personal injury claim, it is still up to you to decide whether or not to accept any settlement that is offered. If, for any reason, you would rather take your case to trial, then there is nothing the insurance company can do to stop that process. However, you must keep in mind that trials are costly, time consuming, and do not come with the guarantee of compensation in an amount which you deem fair. This is why it is always important to talk to your lawyer about what other options you may have before jumping straight into the trial process.
Donaghue & Labrum Trial Lawyers
Have you been injured due to someone else’s intentional or negligent actions? If so, a personal injury claim may be the best way to get compensation for the injuries you sustained. At Donaghue & Labrum we will tirelessly fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Whether it is through a settlement, or a lengthy trial, we will be by your side every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation.