If you have been injured because of the negligent or reckless actions of another party and you have a valid personal injury claim against them, you might be wondering whether it is better to settle or litigate your claim. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and the answer to this question will always depend on the specific circumstances of your case.
We should start by saying that relatively few personal injury cases end up getting litigated. More than 90% of these cases are settled out of court, and there is a very good reason for that.
Going to trial is expensive, time-consuming and unpredictable. You never know how a jury is going to rule, and this makes litigation risky for both sides. With this in mind, it is generally in everyone’s best interests to settle the case without the need for a trial.
When Does it Make Sense to Go to Trial in an Accident Injury Case?
The simple answer to this question is – it makes sense to litigate a personal injury claim when you and your attorney believe your case is worth substantially more than what the other side is offering. But while this might sound pretty straightforward, making this determination is not always easy.
To better understand some of the complications involved with this decision, it is helpful to look at a couple of examples:
Example 1: Your attorney values your auto accident case and the losses you incurred at $60,000-$80,000, and the insurance company offers you $75,000. In this case, the decision is a no-brainer. The offer is toward the high-end of your predetermined value range, so you take the settlement and move on with your life.
Example 2: Your attorney puts a value of $50,000-$75,000 on your claim, but the insurance company believes that you are exaggerating your injuries and only offers you $25,000. This would appear to be a case that you would want to litigate, and that may be true. However, there are other factors to consider before you file a lawsuit:
- Timing of Settlement/Damages Payout: You and your lawyer believe that you should get at least $50,000, but if you go to trial, you might not see that money for at least a year. On the other hand, the insurance company is offering you $25,000 to settle the case right now. Is it worth it to go through a court battle and wait until next year to get the money? Only you can answer that question.
- Legal Expenses to Try the Case: Keep in mind that legal costs will increase significantly if you take your personal injury case to trial. For example, your lawyer’s pre-trial costs might be around $1500, but they will likely increase by several thousand dollars before the case sees the inside of a courtroom. Those costs will need to be taken out of any damage award you receive, so you will need to decide if it is still worthwhile to file a lawsuit in light of this.
- Insurance Policy Liability Limits: If you suffered as much as $75,000 in losses during an auto accident but the responsible driver only has $50,000 in liability coverage per accident for example, this must also be considered in deciding which way to go. If the driver has no other assets to speak of, then $50,000 is the maximum amount you are likely to get from this claim. That being the case, your lawyer would probably want to at least make a counteroffer before going forward with litigation.
Rely on Your Attorney’s Experience
As you can see, the question of whether to settle or litigate is not always as straightforward as it may seem at first. There are a lot of variables to examine, and this is where your attorney’s experience will prove invaluable. They have handled numerous other cases like yours in the past, and they have an in-depth understanding of how this process works.
Keep in mind also that even if you decide that it makes sense to file a lawsuit, this does not necessarily mean that the case will end up in court. Sometimes, just the credible threat of litigation is enough to bring the other side to the table and compel them to negotiate a fair settlement.
Trust Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett with Your Florida Personal Injury Claim
If you or a loved one suffered injury in an accident in Pensacola or anywhere in the Florida Panhandle, Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett is ready to go to work for you. We will deal directly with the other side and handle all negotiations, so you can focus on your recovery. Along the way, we will work closely with you to determine whether it makes sense to settle or litigate your case.
For a free consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury lawyers, message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561.