Whether you’re pursuing a personal injury claim for injuries following a car or vehicle accident, slip and fall incident or other result of someone else’s negligent behavior, the process of gathering evidence, building your case and negotiating takes time. Many plaintiffs have questions about what to expect as the claim unfolds. In this blog post, we’ll review the advantages and disadvantages of a trial versus a settlement in a personal injury case.
How Personal Injury Settlements Work
It’s important to note that the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court -- meaning a trial never takes place. Complex cases involving severe injuries and/or multiple at-fault parties are the types of cases most likely to go to a trial. Regardless of the likelihood of a settlement versus a trial, many victims choose to hire a personal injury lawyer like Brandon J. Broderick to represent their best interests in the negotiation process with insurance companies and at-fault parties.
Once your personal injury attorney has gathered evidence and your medical prognosis is known, they will begin the claim process by filing a demand letter that outlines your case and the total compensation you are seeking. This demand letter will then serve as a starting point to begin negotiations with the insurance company.
In some cases, the at-fault party will not be contested but the insurance company will dispute the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Even in no-fault car insurance states like New Jersey and New York, a car accident victim’s own insurance company may deny or devalue a claim. Your personal injury attorney will handle all of the negotiations with the insurance companies and at-fault parties to seek the maximum compensation you deserve.
Benefits of a Personal Injury Settlement vs a Trial
One of the biggest challenges when filing a personal injury claim is the patience and perseverance required during the process. It can take time to understand the full extent of your injuries and your expected medical outcome but it's critical to do so in order to make sure you’re compensated for future needs. Insurance companies are known to offer initial lowball settlements and then pressure victims into agreeing to the settlement.
Once you agree to and sign a settlement, you cannot reopen your claim related to the accident for any reason. If you take the first offer but realize that you’ll need months of rehabilitation, physical therapy or extended medical care, you cannot go back and file another claim for those additional expenses. That’s why it’s so important to understand the full extent of your losses before agreeing to a compensation amount.
Assuming you have an experienced personal injury lawyer, like the attorney team of Brandon J. Broderick, the biggest advantage of a settlement may be the timeframe. Personal injury cases can take months and even years to resolve, and trials take more time than settlements. Beyond the financial compensation, many plaintiffs are anxious to put the ordeal behind them and move on with their lives.
Benefits of a Trial
Although avoiding a lengthy court case seems appealing, taking your personal injury case to a trial could result in higher awards for compensation. Verdicts in personal injury trials are rendered by either a judge or a jury, depending on the case. A jury or judge may sympathize with the victim and ultimately award a higher amount than what was offered during the settlement negotiations.
For some injured victims, it’s imperative that the defendants admit fault or that the settlement is made public. In cases of egregious recklessness or negligence, it may be possible to pursue punitive damages, designed to financially punish a defendant. While these types of damages are rarely awarded, a jury or judge's sympathies could make them more probable. Additionally, in a trial, the evidence and outcome is made public. Settlement offers typically do not require the defendant to not admit fault and do not make the settlement award amounts public.
Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, we can help. At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are by your side throughout the entire process. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve. Our attorneys will not hesitate to take a case to trial, if needed, and have extensive experience doing so. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Image of Bergen County, New Jersey courthouse courtesy of KForce at the English-language Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons