When you first file a personal injury claim, you may not know what to expect. You may first assume that you’ll go to trial, which is a long and harrowing process that may grant you compensation for your injuryor leave you with nothing. Rather than take that risk, the party you’re suing for injuring you with their negligence may offer to settle out of court.
But should you settle? Most personal injury cases don’t go to trial – only 4% to 5% make it to trial. Instead, many reach settlements. If you’re unsure of when it’s a good idea to settle, contact the personal injury attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. We can explain.
To settle a case means to reach an agreement with the opposite party involved in a dispute. Most settlements are usually agreed upon outside of court before a trial starts but they can be agreed upon during.
For personal injury cases, this typically involves one party (the plaintiff) who is seeking damages from another party (the defendant). The plaintiff would agree to accept an amount of money in exchange for dropping the charges and not taking the case further. This agreement is often less time-consuming and costly than going through a trial. By settling out of court, both parties can avoid long, costly trials and surprise outcomes.
Additionally, if there is a settlement outside of court, the matter is usually kept private. This is unlike a trial where the events are recorded and reported on, which is often something the defendant doesn’t want to happen in order to save their reputation. The plaintiff may prefer to hurt the defendant’s reputation more than gain damages.
There are several reasons why someone would want to settle their personal injury case out of court, as either the plaintiff or the defendant.
Why someone may not want to settle a personal injury case depends on whether they are the plaintiff or the defendant. If you’re the defendant, you may want to avoid taking any public responsibility. While most settlements have confidentiality clauses, you’ll always be under suspicion. If you win in court, that can potentially clear your name of wrongdoing.
If you’re the plaintiff, you may want to take your case to trial due to feelings of anger and frustration over how events unfolded during the incident. Having the entity who hurt you face punishment that is public is more satisfying than a monetary payout for some people. A plaintiff may also feel that the settlement amount they are offered is too low to accept.
Some reasons apply to both sides though. For example, a plaintiff or defendant may choose not to settle out of court because they believe their case would be stronger in front of a judge or jury. When that’s the case, there isn’t much incentive to settle.
While a settlement offer can be made at any point in the litigation process, there is a time when it is best for the plaintiff or defendant.
Sometimes, this can be just before filing a lawsuit or after an initial complaint has been filed. A defendant may offer to settle once there has been some discovery and/or exchange of evidence between the parties.
Settlement negotiations usually take place throughout the pre-trial phase as each side tries to come to an agreement before going to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, more than one settlement negotiation session may occur.
If you suffer a personal injury, you may receive an immediate settlement offer. This can happen if the one who caused your injury believes you would have an easy time proving their guilt, or they can’t afford the negative publicity. Don’t automatically accept their offer. Make sure you have an experienced attorney review the settlement offer first. Consider your options and the evidence you can collect. If you’re unsure of how to do this or need an attorney, the personal injury attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. have the experience you need. Contact us today.