Why Would I Settle My Personal Injury Claim?
Although trials and jury verdicts tend to garner the most attention in the press, in reality the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court. The biggest reason for this is risk–or more accurately, the desire to avoid risk. Taking a personal injury case to trial is risky for both sides. Juries can be unpredictable, and the time and expense of a full-fledged trial can be draining on all of the parties involved.
So does this mean you should always strive to settle your personal injury claim before trial? Not necessarily. Every case is unique, but here are some of the factors that need to be considered if you are the victim seeking compensation:
A Settlement Offers a Quicker Resolution
Personal injury cases are not quick. They usually take months–sometimes years–of preparation before the case even gets to a jury. During this time, the accident victim is often still struggling to recover from their injuries. They also may be facing mounting financial difficulties if they are struggling to pay medical bills or are unable to work. By settling out of court, these victims will typically get paid quicker than if they went to trial–plus they can take the stress of litigation off of their already crowded plate.
A Settlement Avoids Leaving It up to a Jury
As we noted earlier, juries can be unpredictable. Even if you think your personal injury case is airtight, all it takes is one or two skeptical jurors to derail a verdict. More to the point, if a personal injury case goes to trial, the defendant can try and shift the blame to the plaintiff. Florida follows a comparative negligence rule, which means the jury is required to apportion fault among all parties to the accident. This means the victim might end up walking away with less than if they settled before going to the jury.
A Settlement Means No Appeals
The losing side in a personal injury case has the right to appeal. An appeal does not automatically mean a new trial. But it does mean a reviewing court will scrutinize the original trial and decide if there were any legal errors made that justify throwing out the verdict. Although most appeals fail, the process alone can substantially lengthen the time it takes for a victim to get paid.
Settling Is Not Always the Best Option
Although it may sound like settling is always the way to go, in practice there are cases where it makes sense for the victim to pursue a case through trial. Defendants–and their insurance companies–will often try and pressure plaintiffs with a low settlement offer in the hopes of making a case go away.
If you have been injured due to another person’s reckless or negligent actions and would like legal advice on how to proceed, contact the Deerfield Beach personal injury attorneys at the Leifer Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.