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Under What Circumstances Should You Take a Settlement Versus Pursuing a Trial?

Many personal injury claims that stem from an injury or accident do not necessarily end up going to trial. Usually, these types of cases are resolved early on in the litigation process through settlements that are negotiated amongst the parties involved. In some instances, an informal settlement might even take place before an injured individual files a lawsuit. When a settlement does occur, the injured individual or plaintiff agrees to relinquish their rights to pursue further legal action regarding their injury or accident. In exchange for giving up this right, they will receive an agreed-upon amount of money from the insurance company or the defendant against whom they are seeking damages. There are many benefits to settling a case before it reaches the trial stage, including, but these should always be confirmed and discussed with a personal injury attorney to see if they apply to your situation.

Predictability

 If a case goes to trial, there is no way of predicting how a jury might decide. By settling your case, you can at least try to dictate the terms of the settlement agreement.

Expense

Trials are oftentimes costly, particularly because they may involve the hiring of expert witnesses, extensive discovery, travel, and the time and expense of your and the other side’s attorneys.

Privacy

If your case settles before trial, the details are usually kept confidential. However, if your case does go to trial, the documents that you file with the court are public record unless and until a judge seals them.

Time and Stress

Trials can really affect you mentally and emotionally, especially if they are drawn out over a number of days or even weeks. In addition to not knowing what might be the outcome, just the trial process itself can be stressful.

Finality

If one side loses at trial, they may decide to appeal the decision which can draw out the case for a lengthier period of time. A settlement agreement typically cannot be appealed or modified.
While these are the benefits of settling your case instead of proceeding to trial, there are some instances when it simply does not make sense to settle your case. Perhaps you decide that your case should go to trial because the decision could have far-reaching impacts on other individuals besides yourself, or maybe the case challenges issues of fundamental unfairness or the constitutionality of a law.

Either way, the benefits of taking your case to trial can include:

Accountability

Because your case will likely be public record, if you win at trial, the defendant will be held accountable for their actions.

Closure

By winning at trial, you may have more meaningful closure.

Larger Award.

In some instances, a jury might award an amount that is larger than what you would have agreed to and received in a settlement agreement.
Of course, if you or the other party cannot reach a settlement, are not motivated to settle, or the settlement offer is unfair or unrealistic, then trial may be the only way to resolve the case.
If you’ve been injured as a result of the negligent or careless actions of another, you may be thinking about filing a claim if you haven’t already. However, if you have received a settlement offer in connection with your case, you should seriously consider consulting with an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer who can help you assess whether you should take the settlement or proceed to trial. Your attorney can review with you the circumstances under which you should settle your case or go to trial.
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