If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, you will likely be offered the chance to settle out of court. It would be surprising if you weren’t: an estimated 95 to 96% of such cases are settled pretrial. Whether or not you should accept the other side’s offer or proceed to trial depends on a variety of factors, as each personal injury case is unique. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action to take based on their experience with cases like yours and their understanding of the value of your claim.
Below is a general overview of the pros and cons of settling a claim vs. going to trial.
Advantages of settling
- The process is less expensive. Trials cost a lot of money, both in litigation costs and attorney fees. When you add the fact that it can take years for a case to be resolved, the final bill could be astronomical.
- More control over the outcome. Negotiating with the insurance company will give you more control over how much money you receive. Jury decisions can be impossible to predict: you could be awarded more damages, but getting less is equally possible.
- The claim is resolved more quickly. When a case is settled out of court, matters conclude much more quickly than if it had proceeded to trial. You receive your check within weeks after negotiations conclude, allowing you to pay your bills more quickly.
- Matters remain private. Unlike court records, which are public documents unless sealed by a court order, all settlement negotiations remain private.
The biggest advantage of settling is that you’re assured some degree of compensation. With a trial you always risk losing.
Disadvantages of settling
- Amount offered may be too low. If your injuries are catastrophic and/or the party responsible for them acted with extreme negligence, the amount that the insurer is willing to offer you in a settlement may simply not be enough. While jury actions remain difficult to predict, if you have a compelling case that includes vivid photos and witness statements, then you may receive more in a jury award.
- Punitive damages don’t apply. Settlements do not include punitive damages, which can be substantial if awarded at trial. The purpose of such damages is to deter the defendant from acting so negligently in the future.
When you engage a New York personal injury attorney to represent you, they will advise you as to whether or not you should accept the settlement being offered or go to trial. Although the choice is ultimately yours, your attorney’s goal is to secure the best possible outcome for you, so their advice should be given the consideration it deserves. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, New York accident and personal injury attorney who has more than 34 years of legal experience. He has helped obtain millions of dollars in compensation for his clients and offers free in-person consultations. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more or call 718-329-9500. Saturday appointments are available.