One of the most common questions we get asked is, “If I’m injured and want to sue, will I have to go to court?” There are a number of different reasons certain claims go to court and the majority of them are settled outside of court. Below, we’ll go through the main ones.
What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and a Trial?
There are two ways to get compensation from an insurer, a company, an individual, or whoever is negligent that caused your injury.
- Settlements: A settlement is an often preferred way to deal with injury claims. For starters, they’re usually quick and happen outside of court or just between you, your lawyer, and the defendant. The trick settling is that defendants will try to whittle the plaintiff’s settlement request as low as possible. If neither party can agree on a number, we recommend hiring a personal injury lawyer (if you haven’t already) to help you settle one last time. If that doesn’t happen, you may have to open a civil lawsuit against the defendant.
- Trials: A lower percentage of injury claims actually go to trial. A civil lawsuit can net a higher settlement for plaintiffs, trials are often expensive and time-consuming. Typically, both the defendants and plaintiffs negotiate an agreement before a claim escalates into a lawsuit. Insurance companies usually give in when you bring an injury claims lawyer into the mix, given that they will have to spend more resources on trial than they would be settling for a higher amount. The trial is dangerous for insurance companies, too, since they have little say in the settlement which would then become a verdict determined by a jury. These are known as civil suits or torts and there are thousands of them every year, but not as many as out-of-court settlements.
Put simply, most insurance companies and defendants don’t want to go to trial unless there are obvious holes in your injury claim. Your St. Louis personal injury lawyer will make that call if it’s appropriate and help you maximize the settlement as quickly as possible.
Privacy and Injury Claims
Another big reason most cases settle out of court is privacy. Trials are not private, but a settlement is. If you’re attempting to settle a case against a company about a product malfunction, for instance, it may be in the company’s best interest to keep that information private. Both sides would sign a non-disclosure agreement, of course, which protects the settlement amount and the reason behind the injury. Often, an injury claims lawyer will begin court proceedings to get let the potential defendant know that the plaintiff is serious.
4 Reasons Plaintiffs Often Don’t Go to Court
We’ve mentioned a few of them already, but below we’ve provided a recap of why your injury claim most likely won’t go to court. If you have any further questions, you can contact the Dixon Injury Firm for more information about the process and get a free case evaluation.
- There’s a major risk of loss for both sides if a suit goes to court. On one hand, if you (the plaintiff) loses, you won’t get anything except court fees. From the defendant’s point of view, cases are public and a jury could award a settlement much higher than the original demand.
- Trials are expensive. While most personal injury lawyers offer free litigation services in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement (if there is one), things can get expensive for both sides depending on the outcome.
- There’s a time factor, too. Settlements via verdict usually take much longer to go through, meaning you the plaintiff has to juggle lost wages, medical expenses, and other case-related costs and wait for the check. If you settle for a lower amount before trial, you’ll likely get less compensation in a quicker amount of time. This is something you should talk to an injury claims lawyer about since each case is different.
- Then there’s the appeal. If you settle outside of court, contracts guarantee that no further action will be taken by either side. In the trial, however, the losing side has the ability to appeal. A victorious plaintiff will likely have to go back to court to win the appeal, which could lead to a lower or higher settlement.
There are arguments about going to trial and settling outside of court. The important thing to do is find a local injury claims lawyer that is familiar with your type of case and can provide advice and action that will deliver the best result. At the Dixon Injury Firm, we provide legal representation to clients in St. Louis and the Southern Illinois area. See our practice areas for a full list of our capabilities.