The Bureau of Justice Statistics states that only 4% of personal injury cases make it to court. A whopping 96% opt for an out-of-court settlement, which seems to be the easy way out.
Negotiations are a crucial aspect of out-of-court settlements. Both parties will hold several meetings to communicate and compromise on their offers until they can come to a middle ground.
Victims often wonder if this course of action is the best option for them. The truth is that it depends on the nature of your case. Your attorney has solid experience with personal injury cases, and they’ll tell you whether or not it’ll be better to settle out of court.
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Why Out-of-Court Settlements Are Better
Here are some of the reasons why out-of-court settlements are better for victims:
Settling out of court can be significantly faster than going through a full trial, which can take months or even years. This allows victims to receive compensation sooner, helping them cover immediate expenses and focus on recovery.
Reduced Stress and Uncertainty
Trials can be stressful and emotionally draining for victims, who may have to relive the traumatic event in front of a jury.
Even before the case goes to trial, a lot of effort is required to build a solid defense that can withstand the poking of the defense attorney. Settling out of court avoids this and provides a sense of closure and certainty.
Going to trial is often expensive, with legal fees, expert witness fees, and other associated costs. Out-of-court settlements typically involve lower costs, saving victims money and potential financial burdens.
Control over the Outcome
In a settlement, both parties have more control over the outcome than in a trial, where the verdict is up to the jury. This allows victims to negotiate a settlement that meets their specific needs and avoids the unpredictability of a court decision.
Personal injury cases often involve sensitive personal information. Settling out of court helps keep these details confidential, as opposed to a trial where all proceedings are open to the public.
Avoiding the Risk of Losing
There’s always a risk of losing a trial, even with a strong case. Trials are unpredictable. One second, all the odds are in your favor, and another second, they’re turned against you. Settling out of court eliminates this risk and guarantees some compensation for the victim’s injuries.
Focus on Recovery
Settling out of court allows victims to focus on their physical and emotional recovery without the added stress and disruption of a trial. This can be crucial for their overall well-being and healing process.
Should I accept the first offer?
No. The first offer, no matter how juicy it may seem, is always a starting point. They can always offer more. Do not handle negotiations without your lawyer. Consult them to evaluate how this first offer compares to your injuries, expenses, and emotional toll. Don’t feel pressured to accept quickly – remember, negotiation is expected!
How can I maximize my settlement?
You’ll need strong evidence to establish liability and the validity of your claims. Then, you’ll need a skilled lawyer who has mastered the art of negotiation.
Is the settlement the final verdict?
Once signed and approved by the court, a settlement is final. You cannot sue for the same injury again. Be sure you’re satisfied with the terms before agreeing.
Is an out-of-court settlement different from an Alternate Dispute Resolution?
Yes. While both avoid trial, out-of-court settlements involve direct negotiation between parties. ADR involves a neutral third party (mediator or arbitrator) facilitating the settlement process.
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