Anyone who suffers from a personal injury caused by the negligence of another can take their lawsuit to court if they so choose. The judge and/or jury will then determine the outcome. However, in the majority of personal injury claims in Pennsylvania, the case never has to go to court.
There are many different phases to a personal injury claim, with the primary stages being pre-lawsuit filing and post-lawsuit filing, which can ultimately lead to trial. Someone who has been injured in an accident will need to discuss with their attorney whether or not settlement is possible in the pre-lawsuit filing stage. If not, then they have to decide if the case should be taken to trial.
When Should You Take it to Court?
You need to carefully consider your claim and relevant factors before deciding whether or not you should take the case to court. It is up to you whether you accept a settlement, but it helps to have the assistance of a personal injury attorney to decide if settling is your best course of action.
One thing you’ll need to think about is the nature of the settlement offer. If it is fair and meets your requirements for a reasonable recovery on your case, then you may want to simply accept the settlement and avoid involving the courts. However, if you cannot reach a fair settlement agreement with the defendant, then you may need to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean that the case is going to make it to trial, though you should be prepared for this. In many cases, simply filing a lawsuit gives you enough leverage negotiation to receive a fair settlement.
Why Most Cases Don’t Go to Trial
Most cases don’t go to trial because the plaintiff and defendant are able to reach a settlement agreement that meets the needs of the plaintiff. 80% to 90% of all personal injury cases are settled before they ever make it to trial. There are many reasons for this, with the most common being the risk of losing, the cost of litigation, delayed compensation, and the possibility of appeal.
The Risk of Losing
For both sides of a personal injury claim, a trial is a risky move. If the plaintiff loses, then he or she receives nothing, and might regret choosing not to accept a settlement. While most personal injury attorneys in Pennsylvania work on a contingency fee (so they don’t get paid unless there is a recover), there may still be legal expenses for the plaintiff to cover. If the defendant loses, then he or she may end up having to pay much more than the plaintiff requested for a settlement. There is no way to accurately predict what a jury is going to decide, no matter how experienced your attorney might be.
The Cost of Litigation
It costs a lot of money to take your case to trial, with attorney’s fees and court costs growing more and more expensive for both the plaintiff and defendant when this happens.
For many plaintiffs in personal injury cases, there is not a lot of breathing room when it comes to their financial needs. When a plaintiff needs their money as quickly as possible, it may be worth it to settle for a lower amount than to take the case to court and risk waiting a long time to receive any compensation. When you’re facing medical expenses, time off work, and various other debts and needs, it can be very difficult to choose to wait longer than you have to in the hopes of a higher settlement.
The Possibility of Appeal
In a settlement agreement, both parties agree to a binding contract that states that the case is closed and that neither party has a right to pursue the matter any further. In a trial, on the other hand, there is the possibility of lengthy appeals that can stand between the plaintiff and his or her recovery. Nobody wants to return to court multiple times and wait longer than necessary for the case to be closed.
Sometimes Trial Is Necessary
Whenever you are unable to reach a fair settlement agreement in a personal injury case, you may have to take the case the trial. If the defendant is clearly liable, the damages are documented thoroughly, and there is precedent for similar cases with verdicts in your favor, then going to trial is probably a wise choice. When it comes to weighing the various factors that will affect your case, it helps to have a knowledgeable Philadelphia personal injury Lawyer on your side.