Personal Injury Case: Settlement vs. Trial


A high percentage of personal injury cases are settled out of court. When you take the defendant to court, the chances are that the case will go on for a long time. At times this lengthy process might be inconvenient for you as appearing before the court for the hearing is not convenient for everyone. When you decide to settle out of court, the trial will not be publicized, and you will also save a lot of money that you would have spent on the trial. A personal injury lawyer in Portland like Johnston Law Firm can present you with all your options, and the final call is always yours. If you are confused about whether you want a settlement or a trial, this article will help you make a decision.

Settlement vs. Trial

Lawsuits are expensive, as both parties are paying their attorneys on an hourly basis. It is important to remember that the sooner the case is settled, the more money both parties will be able to save. Trials can be expensive, but the settlements don’t necessarily have to be as expensive. When the case goes into court, things are out of the hands of both parties. It will then be dependent on the court and its procedures. It is safe to say that both parties will benefit from an early settlement.

Trials are Taxing

For an ordinary person, the mention of court and a case is enough to cause stress. It can be very stressful for both parties when a trial begins, even if it only takes a few days to get a judgment. Both the parties will be required to present in court, stand in the witness stand and give statements. A court case often has a deep impact on the family life of the defendant and the plaintiff. Your job can also suffer if you are required to be present in the court one day after another.

However, if you decide to settle the matters out of court, it will be time-saving as well as a cost-effective decision. When a settlement is made out of court, both parties also have the room to settle on their own terms.

The Unpredictability of a Trail

The modern legal system is full of surprises and that is why people often settle for a settlement rather than a trial. A plaintiff can go to court thinking that all the evidence is present and by no means the judge will be able to refute them but at times, the most obvious evidence is not enough to get a verdict. The plaintiff, often in the hope that the decision will be in his favor, decides to take the defendant to court but ends up suffering a financial dent from all the money spent on the proceeding.

In out of court settlements, both the parties can negotiate and control how much the defendant will be paying as a result. The system is not foolproof and if your case falls through the cracks, it might take years before you get a judgment.

Trials and Appeals are Time Consuming

An open and shut case can be prolonged in the court and it might take years before you finally get to a settlement. The only winners, in this case, are the attorneys in both cases who continue to make money.

If you decide on a settlement and come to a mutual decision on how much money will exchange hands, the issues can be settled in a matter of hours without paying anything extra. However, the court can hold the defendant accountable if he at some time refuses to pay up or doesn’t own his mistake.

The Breach of Privacy

Unless the judge seals the records, all the details of your trial will be public and can be accessed by anyone. Trials are dirty business; both parties try their best to make the other party look bad. A lot of bad things are said and done and this information is available for anyone’s eyes. A famous personal injury case between the Coca-Cola company and Escola, the waitress, dragged the Coca-Cola company to court after a beverage bottle exploded in her hand, leaving her severely injured. Escola was awarded compensation and the beverage company was held responsible for neglect.

Since the trial was public, the Coca-Cola company’s reputation suffered a blow. For companies as big as Coca-Cola, any such case has a direct impact on its sales as well as the stocks.

A Settling Defendant Doesn’t Have to Admit Liability

This is one of the most imperative reasons that a plaintiff tries to settle out of court. When a defendant is taken to court, he doesn’t only accept liability for the case but the case is also associated with his name. But in case of an out of court settlement, the settling defendant doesn’t have to admit to the liability of the accident. If a plaintiff is looking for the defendant’s guilt, this might not be enough, but this might be all they need if they are looking for a good settlement.

In many cases, insurance companies are involved, and they push the plaintiff you settle out of court as it will save the costs of the trial.

Less Monetary Benefits

If you decide to settle out of court, you might end up getting less monetary benefits than you would’ve gotten if the case had been taken to court. Your attorney will be the best judge of what is better after going through all the details of your case.

Settlements are Permanent

Once you decide on a settlement, it is permanent, and it cannot be renegotiated. If an injury worsens after a few days or months or a new injury is discovered, you cannot claim settlement for that.

Choosing whether to go for a settlement or taking the defendant to court is a decision you should take after consulting an experienced attorney. If you decide to go to court, you should be mentally prepared to be cross-questioned and put in the line of blazing questions.