When faced with a legal dispute, such as a personal injury claim, one of the crucial decisions to make is whether to pursue a settlement or proceed to trial. This choice carries significant implications for the outcome of the case and the rights of the parties involved. Seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is invaluable during this decision-making process. An attorney can provide a thorough analysis of the case, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and offer valuable advice on the best course of action. Whether advocating for a fair settlement or representing the client in court, an attorney’s guidance ensures that their client’s interests are protected and maximizes the chances of achieving a favorable resolution. By understanding the potential risks and benefits of settling versus going to trial, individuals can make informed choices with the support of a skilled attorney.
Pros of settling your injury case
Whether you are filing for compensation due to an injury caused by a car accident or medical malpractice, choosing between settling a legal dispute and going to trial is a critical decision with potential consequences. You want the choice that benefits you the most. There are several pros and cons to consider when making this decision. The benefits of settling include:
- Settling a case provides certainty in terms of outcome, as both parties agree to a mutually acceptable resolution. It eliminates the uncertainty and risks associated with going to trial.
- Time and cost savings. Settling generally takes less time and costs less than going through a full trial. It avoids the lengthy court process, including pre-trial preparations, court hearings, and potential appeals.
- Control. Settlement allows the parties to have control over the outcome of the case. They can negotiate and agree upon the terms, rather than leaving the decision to a judge or jury.
- Settlements often involve confidentiality clauses, keeping the details of the dispute private and protecting the parties’ reputation.
Cons of settling your injury case
Agreeing to a settlement in a legal dispute can offer certain benefits, but it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks before making a decision:
- Potential for lesser compensation. The settlement amount may be lower than what could be awarded in a successful trial verdict. The opposing party may offer a lower amount to avoid the risks and costs associated with trial.
- Incomplete resolution. Settling may not address all aspects of the dispute or provide a complete sense of justice. Certain non-monetary considerations or specific remedies may be difficult to obtain through a settlement agreement.
- Precedent and principle. By settling, the opportunity to establish legal precedent or make a statement on an important issue may be missed. Some individuals may prefer to pursue a trial to assert their rights or advocate for a broader cause.
- Admitting liability. In some cases, settling may require the plaintiff to accept a portion of the blame or relinquish certain legal claims. This can be a disadvantage if preserving one’s reputation or establishing fault is important.
Pros of going to trial for an injury case
Going to trial may seem like a big step, but it can be one with big benefits. With the help of an attorney, it is likely that you will be grateful you decided to go to trial. Some of the benefits of going to trial include:
- Full compensation potential. In a successful trial verdict, the compensation awarded may be higher compared to what is offered in a settlement. The court can consider all relevant factors and provide a comprehensive remedy.
- Legal precedent. Going to trial sometimes allows for the possibility of establishing legal precedent. A favorable court decision can set a precedent that benefits others facing similar issues in the future, shaping the interpretation of laws and promoting fairness.
- Principle and justice. Some individuals may prioritize seeking justice and holding the responsible party accountable. Going to trial can provide an opportunity to present their case before a judge or jury, allowing them to assert their rights and advocate for what they believe is fair.
- Discovery and presentation of evidence. Trials involve a formal discovery process where both sides can gather evidence, depose witnesses, and present their case in a structured manner. This process can uncover crucial information and potentially strengthen the case.
Why a trial may not be right for your personal injury case
Just as with settling, there are possible drawbacks of choosing to go to trial instead of settling. These include:
- Time and cost. Trials can be lengthy, involving pre-trial preparations, court proceedings, and potential appeals. This can result in significant time and cost expenses for both parties. Legal fees, expert witness fees, and court expenses can accumulate throughout the trial process.
- Uncertainty and risks. Trials are inherently uncertain, as the outcome depends on the judge or jury’s decision. There is always a risk of an unfavorable verdict, which could result in no compensation or a lesser amount than what was initially sought.
- Emotional impact. Going to trial can be emotionally draining and stressful for the parties involved. The adversarial nature of litigation, cross-examinations, and potential challenges to credibility can take a toll on individuals and prolong the resolution process.
- Loss of privacy. Trials are public proceedings, and the details of the case become part of the court record. This may result in a loss of privacy, as personal information and sensitive details could be exposed during the trial.
Ultimately, the decision to go to trial or settle depends on the specific circumstances of the case, the desired outcomes, and the risks and costs involved. Consulting with an experienced attorney can provide valuable advice and help individuals weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision that aligns with their best interests.
How can a Richmond-based injury attorney help?
An attorney can provide valuable guidance and assistance in helping you decide whether to settle or go to trial. Your injury attorney will thoroughly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. They will review the evidence, consider legal precedents, and analyze the potential outcomes of both settlement and trial scenarios. This evaluation will provide you with an objective assessment of your case’s merits and the likelihood of success in court.
If you choose to settle, your attorney will leverage their negotiation skills to engage in discussions with the opposing party or their insurance company. They will advocate for your best interests and work towards securing a favorable settlement agreement. An attorney’s experience in negotiation can help ensure that you receive fair compensation. At Phelan Petty, we prepare every case for a trial, which often leads to a more just and fair settlement negotiation from the start.
By providing you with an objective analysis of your case, legal advice, negotiation skills, trial preparedness, risk assessment, and client advocacy, a Richmond-based injury attorney from Phelan Petty can help you make a well-informed decision about whether to settle or go to trial, ensuring your interests are protected and your goals are pursued. If you are considering whether to settle or to go to trial, we can help. We want to work to ensure that whichever course forward you decide on, you will receive as much compensation as possible. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your options, call us or use our contact page. We serve clients in Richmond and throughout Virginia.
Michael Phelan is a Virginia trial attorney who practices with a special focus on traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases, pharmaceutical and medical device claims, product liability cases, and truck accidents. Michael’s peers have consistently recognized him for his excellence as a trial lawyer, and his clients have praised him for his commitment to deep research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication.