Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
When you are injured in a slip and fall accident, auto accident, or another type of personal injury situation, you may be entitled to compensation for damages related to the incident. Filing a personal injury claim is generally the first step in recovering compensation for damages.
If the at-fault party refuses to negotiate a fair settlement offer, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. That is the judicial process for holding a party liable after an accident or injury.
Like most people with a personal injury case, you may wonder if your case will go to trial. Going to trial for a personal injury claim is unlikely, but it all depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Filing Personal Injury Claims with Insurance Companies
Most personal injury cases begin with an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. The insurance company will investigate the claim and determine whether its customer is liable for damages. If so, it may offer to settle out of court.
The insurance company may be interested in reaching a settlement agreement to avoid going to trial. It may recognize that the evidence of liability is strong. Therefore, it would likely rather settle the claim than take the chance of a jury verdict that could be higher than the settlement amount.
Filing an insurance claim is different from filing a personal injury lawsuit. An insurance claim is handled between the accident victim and the insurance provider. The parties negotiate to agree upon a value for the accident victim’s damages.
Your personal injury attorney prepares a settlement demand letter and outlines the facts of the case, the legal arguments for liability, and your injuries and damages. It ends with a specific monetary settlement demand.
The insurance provider often denies the original settlement demand. Instead, it may make a counteroffer for a lower amount. Your lawyer and the insurance company may go back and forth for several weeks negotiating a settlement agreement.
However, suppose the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith or refuses to accept liability for the claim. In that case, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit and take the matter to court.
Additionally, you might need to file a lawsuit if the statute of limitations is about to expire. The statute of limitations is a deadline for filing lawsuits. If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline, you cannot pursue a court case against the party who caused your injury.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant’s insurance company generally hires a defense trial lawyer to represent its insured (the defendant) during a personal injury trial.
Most Personal Injury Lawsuits Settle Prior to Trial
Even if you file a personal injury lawsuit, it does not mean that your case will go to trial. Approximately 95% of personal injury cases settle without going to trial. Only four to five percent of cases go to trial.
The only way that your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial is if you and the insurance company cannot reach a settlement before trial. However, there are numerous opportunities to settle the claim as the case proceeds through the judicial process.
Each party engages in discovery. Discovery is the process of gathering information and evidence to use during trial. Parties may use various discovery tools to gather evidence, including depositions, interrogatories, requests to produce, and subpoenas.
After completing the discovery process, the court encourages parties to engage in pre-trial negotiations. The parties will have a better understanding of the other side’s case after completing discovery. Therefore, the parties may be more willing to compromise to reach a mutually agreeable settlement instead of taking a chance with a jury trial.
The parties may agree to enter mediation to settle the lawsuit in some cases. Mediators are not judges. They do not decide the case or offer opinions regarding the settlement. Instead, the mediator is a neutral party who facilitates the negotiations between the parties to move toward settlement.
Why Don’t More Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?
The main reason parties decide to settle is the cost of a trial. The legal fees, court costs, and trial costs of a lawsuit are expensive. The longer the case goes without settlement, the more money it costs for both parties.
Therefore, parties may agree to accept a settlement that is not exactly what they want, but the cost of pursuing a lawsuit outweighs the monetary benefits of avoiding settlement.
Another reason lawsuits settle before trial is a risk. Going to trial is risky. You can have the best case with overwhelming evidence and still not receive the desired outcome. Juries are unpredictable, so insurance companies settle claims to avoid paying high jury verdicts.
With a settlement, the accident victim has guaranteed payment. Going to trial means you could get less for your case or receive nothing.
Lawsuits could take more than a year to go to trial. Large claims could take several years to settle. Furthermore, either party could appeal the decision if they desire, which drags the lawsuit out longer.
Settling a personal injury claim means that the accident victim receives their money faster than if the case goes to trial.
What Types of Damages Could I Receive for a Personal Injury Claim?
Regardless of whether you go to trial or settle your claim outside of court, you are entitled to compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. The types of damages you could receive include:
- Reimbursement of loss of income and benefits
- Compensation for future lost wages and reduction in earning potential
- Reimbursement for medical bills and ongoing medical treatment
- Compensation for the cost of personal care and nursing care
- Pain and suffering damages, including loss of enjoyment of life, physical discomfort, mental anguish, and emotional distress
- Compensation for permanent disabilities, scarring, and impairments
- Reduced quality of life
Some accident victims could be entitled to punitive damages if they file a lawsuit. However, these damages do not compensate the plaintiff for damages.
A jury decides to award punitive damages to “punish” the defendant for gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Unfortunately, punitive damages are only awarded in a very small number of personal injury lawsuits.
The value of your damages depends on many factors. A personal injury lawyer in Gainesville, FL documents your damages and calculates the maximum value for your damages. That amount is the starting point for negotiations.
If someone injured you or your family member, you deserve a fair settlement amount for your injury claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer for help with your claim.