Each personal injury lawsuit is different. There are always different circumstances surrounding the injury and different likelihoods that a plaintiff will win his or her case. Before filing a lawsuit, you’ll want to speak with your personal injury lawyer, and then decide whether you’ll be willing to settle the claim. If not, you’ll then decide whether you want to take it to trial.
When to Go to Court
It is ultimately up to you, the plaintiff, whether you want to go to court or not. It depends on whether you are willing to attempt to settle your claim. As it’s such an important and weighty decision – going to court may take a lot of time and energy – you should deliberate the decision with the aid of a lawyer.
Think first about the offer you have received from the defendant, i.e. the party responsible for causing your injury. The offer will typically be issued through their legal representative or insurer. If it satisfies the amount you are seeking for your claim, such as damages to cover medical expenses and the like, you may choose to settle the claim without needing to take it to trial. If an agreed upon settlement can be reached, it is often the most beneficial choice for both parties.
Of course, you may not reach an agreement on settlement terms. If this is the case, you may end up in court. However, this is rarely in anyone’s best interest, and there are other options to explore, such as third-party mediation, which can avoid this outcome.
What Happens After Filing a Lawsuit
Most personal injury claims do not result in going to trial. The parties involved will typically reach a settlement before a court date is deemed necessary.
Many people resolve personal injury cases in settlements rather than in trials because trials inherently pose a risk of losing. You can reject a settlement and still run the risk of ending up with nothing, depending on the outcome of your trial. It may seem like you have a solid case on your hands, but trial outcomes are impossible to predict.
Trials also can be quite costly. After the court costs and legal fees, you’ll also likely have steep medical expenses as a result of your injury. The costs will just keep adding up. If you need money in a hurry, foregoing a trial and aiming to reach a settlement may be more appealing, as you’ll avoid the very lengthy process of court.
When a Trial is Necessary
There are, of course, times when there is no fair resolution to be reached in an injury lawsuit without taking it to court. You have a higher likelihood of getting a court decision in your favor if you have sufficient evidence documenting the defendant’s liability, documentation of your damages, and a jury decision history to back you up. If you have all of this and the defendant still refuses to settle, or fairly settle, it may be time to go to court.