Every personal injury claim is different. Depending on the nature of your slip-and-fall, vehicular accident or other injury-related claim, you may have options. Your Indianapolis personal injury lawyer will evaluate your case and advise you on settling a personal injury case, or going to court.
Despite what you may see on TV, only a small percentage of personal injury cases make it to trial. Courtroom drama may look exciting, but it can be very difficult for victims to handle. The uncertainty is also a turn-off for the individual or entity facing legal action. That’s why most parties come to an agreement out of court. Usually, the at-fault party makes a payment to the victim to avoid trial.
Deciding how to approach your claim is a big decision and you shouldn’t make it lightly. Some individuals prefer to settle the matter quickly so they don’t have to deal with a prolonged trial. Others want a judge and jury of their peers to decide on the case since they may get a higher award. Often, the trial is a last resort. Attorneys may choose this option if negotiations are at a stalemate. Sometimes individuals, businesses and insurance companies refuse to make a fair offer. When this happens, trial is the only route for recourse. There are pros and cons to each approach and we’ll discuss them below.
Advantages of Settling a Personal Injury Case out of Court
There are good reasons why some personal injury victims choose not to see the inside of a courtroom. These include:
- Privacy – Court documents become public records when a case goes to trial. When you settle your case, you can keep the details of your injury private. Victims who suffer embarrassing or severe injuries often prefer not to talk about it in front of strangers.
- Reduced stress – Court proceedings can be emotionally difficult for victims to handle. Going to court frequently may also be a physical burden on an injured individual. Out-of-court settlements don’t require as much involvement from the victim and this can help to ease their minds.
- Guaranteed compensation – When you settle out of court, you are guaranteed to get a specified amount in damages. If you take your chances in court, there’s a possibility that the ruling may go in favor of the defendant. You may, therefore, end up leaving the courtroom emptyhanded. Usually, lawyers won’t take a case to trial if it’s so risky. However, there’s always a possibility that you won’t get full compensation.
- Faster resolution – Negotiating a settlement usually takes less time than a trial. Trials can go on for months or even years. Victims often don’t have the time or the desire to put their life on pause for such a long time. If you just want to collect your compensation and move on with your life, a settlement is best.
- Lower attorney fees – Personal injury attorneys in Indianapolis have a lot to do to prepare for trial. If they have to find expert witnesses, take depositions and travel for your case, this comes out of your compensation. Attorneys usually charge more for cases that go to trial. However, expenses are reduced considerably if you settle. If you want to reduce your costs, you may opt for a settlement.
Disadvantages of Settling a Personal Injury Case Out of Court
While there are many benefits to opting for an out-of-court settlement, this decision has drawbacks. There are two main reasons why lawyers advise their clients to sue. These are:
- The possibility of lower compensation – Sometimes settlements result in less compensation than a trial would. If you have severe injuries or your medical treatment exceeds the amount offered, it’s best to go to court.
- No access to punitive damages – Courts often impose punitive damages on defendants whose actions were willful or grossly negligent. Settlements often don’t include this additional sum which is designed to act as a deterrent.
Let Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers Help You to Make the Right Decision
Some personal injury victims believe that attorneys advise them to settle when they want the easy way out. However, this is not typically the case. Some claims are simply better handled this way. At Stewart|Phelps|Wood, we take the time to understand each client’s circumstances. When we advise you on how to proceed, it’s because we believe it’s in your best interest. We have several years of experience in handling personal injury cases and we understand the pros and cons of each option. If you were injured due to someone’s negligence and you want to get compensation, contact our Indianapolis Personal Injury Law Firm today.