If you are involved in a personal injury case, you may have to decide whether settling out of court or going to trial is the best option. While over 90 percent of personal injury cases are settled, there are situations where going to trial is necessary—most commonly when the insurance company of the responsible party refuses to accept a reasonable settlement offer.
When deciding between settling and going to trial in Burlington County injury cases, an experienced attorney could provide valuable advice regarding the most prudent path to take. Contact a Burlington County personal injury lawyer for more information.
Negotiating a Settlement in Burlington County
At the beginning of any personal injury claim, the injured party—or their attorney if they choose to retain one—attempts to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company of the defendant, the party responsible for the accident. Once an acceptable settlement is negotiated, the plaintiff knows exactly how much money they will receive.
Generally, the settlement money is available within 30 days of the settlement agreement. Settlements are usually private, so there is no public record of the agreed-upon amount.
Once the settlement is signed, the plaintiff agrees not to pursue any further action. The defendant also does not have to admit wrongdoing. The entire process, including payment, is generally faster than going to trial.
The downside of settling is that the injured party may not receive as much money as they would if they went to trial. However, there is also the chance that a jury might not award any money at all. Put more colloquially: a bird in the hand may be worth two in the bush.
Going to Trial
It is not uncommon for personal injury cases to settle on the courthouse steps without actually going to trial, when the insurance company realizes that litigation expenses and the possibility of a large damage award make settling their best option.
Actually going to trial can be expensive, often resulting in higher advance costs and litigation fees. That means any award, even one larger than what would have been gained through a settlement, may have these additional costs deducted.
There is also no such thing as a civil case that is guaranteed to succeed. Even if all the evidence appears on the side of the victim, it is the job of insurance company lawyers to sow doubt in the minds of the judge and/or jury.
Finally, it is important to bear in mind that trials are public, and all related information is part of the public record, including the amount of any damages awarded. However, if the defendant is found responsible, that also becomes part of the public record, which may be an important issue for some plaintiffs.
How a Skilled Attorney Can Help
In Burlington County injury cases, the choice of settling versus going to trial can be a critical one. If you or a loved one suffered serious injury because of another party’s actions and are not sure what to do next, a Burlington County attorney could help you get on the right track towards compensation.