Should I Settle or Go to Court?
September 11th, 2023
When you are injured in an accident and someone else was at fault, you want justice and deserve compensation. Many people believe that a trial is the only way to receive fair compensation for their injuries. But did you know that over 95% of personal injury cases are resolved without going to trial? There are several reasons it might be better to settle your personal injury claim instead of going to trial. Of course, the answer to the question, “Is it better to settle or go to court “?” is “It depends.” There are situations when settlement is in your best interests, and there are other scenarios when taking your case to trial is the better option.
The personal injury lawyers at Muth Law, P.C. are here to provide advice and help you understand and evaluate your options. We will protect your interests and fight for your rights. We have the experience, resources, and expertise to take your case to trial when necessary.
What Is Settlement?
Settlement occurs when a case is resolved before going to trial. Parties to a dispute can reach a settlement at any time during the litigation process. They can settle a case before a lawsuit is filed, on the eve trial, or anywhere in between.
While every case is unique, the process of settling a personal injury claim is fairly consistent. The plaintiff’s lawyer sends a settlement demand to the defendant and their insurance company. The demand letter identifies the damages the plaintiff is seeking and includes supporting documents, such as medical records and bills, and evidence of lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses.
The defendant and their representative respond, often with a number significantly lower than the plaintiff’s demand.
Then, the parties negotiate, moving closer to a settlement figure they all agree on.
Understanding the Court Process
Litigating a personal injury case can be a long and tedious process. A lawsuit begins by filing a Complaint. The defendant responds with an Answer. The parties then learn about the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases through Discovery. Once Discovery is complete, the case is scheduled for a Pre-Trial Hearing, followed by the Trial. From filing the lawsuit until trial, most Michigan personal injury cases take about one year to complete.
A typical trial lasts between two days and two weeks, depending on the complexity of the case. Most trials involve six phases: voir dire, opening statements, witness testimony and cross-examination, closing arguments, jury deliberation, and announcing the verdict.
Trial can be a stressful and uncertain process, and taking a case to trial can be expensive. But sometimes a trial is the only way to achieve justice.
Should You Settle or Go to Court?: Pros and Cons.
Only you can decide whether to accept a settlement or take your case to trial. Muth Law can help you make the right decision. We have decades of experience handling personal injury claims in Michigan, and we will help you understand and evaluate your options.
Benefits of Trial
If you take your case to trial, the jury could return a verdict that is significantly larger than the defendant’s best settlement offer.
A jury verdict can also send a message to the defendant and give victims a sense of justice and closure.
In some cases, taking a case to trial will set a precedent and can help create laws protecting the public.
Disadvantages of Trial
Juries can be unpredictable. There is always a chance a jury could return a defense verdict or a verdict that is less than what the defendant offered.
Trials can be expensive. Even though most personal injury cases are taken on a contingency fee with plaintiffs’ lawyers paying litigation expenses up-front, after fees and the litigation expenses are deducted from the verdict amount, you could receive less money than if you had accepted a settlement.
Taking a case to trial can take years. Even in the best-case scenario, it can take more than a year from when the Complaint is filed until the trial is over. And even if you win, the defendant can still appeal the decision, which can add even more time until your case is resolved.
Benefits of Settlement
When you resolve your case without going to trial, you retain control over how much the defendant will pay. You can decide to accept or reject a settlement offer, and you have the option to try to negotiate a better deal. Once a case goes to trial, you lose control and must accept whatever the judge or jury decides.
Settling a case is usually faster than taking a case to trial. Many personal injury cases are settled in less than a year, while it can take at least a year before your case goes to trial.
Settlement is less expensive than going to trial. Taking a case to trial involves expert witness fees, costs for investigation and discovery, and other trial expenses. You avoid many of these expenses by accepting a settlement offer.
Disadvantages of Settlement
Accepting a settlement could mean you receive less money, more money, or exactly the same amount of money than if you went to trial.
Once you decide to accept a settlement, the decision is final. You cannot ask for more money or re-negotiate the deal, even if your injuries worsen or new injuries are detected.
Muth Law Can Help You Decide Whether to Settle or Go to Court
Deciding whether to settle or go to court is challenging. The lawyers at Muth Law have decades of experience negotiating, litigating, and trying personal injury claims throughout Michigan. While no lawyer can predict exactly what a jury will do, we can help you evaluate your case and make a decision that is best for you and your family.
To put our experience to work for you, contact Muth Law today by calling 743-481-8800, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or completing our online contact form. We look forward to discussing how our firm can help your family.