The Big Question: Do I Settle Now or Go to Trial?
Most personal injury cases settle before the case reaches trial. Out-of-court settlements can occur at any stage of the claim. I always advise my clients on settlement at the appropriate stages taking the following into account:
Trials are unpredictable
Evidence that you may believe is key may not be deemed so by the judge, witnesses may come across as unreliable and inconsistencies in the evidence may be exposed. The legal system is designed to take surprises out of the trial process but it is not easy to predict how a trial will end. With a settlement, both parties have control over how much will paid and received.
The trial process takes time
The main advantage of settling your claim is that you will receive your compensation sooner than going to trial. At the outset of a personal injury claim it can be difficult to estimate the length of the claim. As settlement can occur early in the process, you can receive payment much sooner than if you go to trial. A trial will often not commence until more than a year after the initial claim is issued (started). Even with a relatively simple personal injury case, it is not uncommon for the entire process (i.e. from your first phone call to receiving damages awarded at trial to take two years or more). With a settlement, the parties know exactly when and how much money will exchange hands.
Trials are stressful
Although a typical personal injury trial will not last more than a day, the process can be stressful. Both parties will be cross-examined on the witness stand and have their character called into question. With a settlement, an agreement is negotiated, the other party pays damages and the matter is concluded.
A settling defendant does not need to admit liability
If the other party loses at trial, he/she will be officially proven liable (responsible) for the accident and your injuries. If the parties settle, the other party is not required to admit to liability. This may not be ideal for the claimant who is injured and would like proof of a defendant’s wrongdoing. However, it is sometimes easier to reach a financial settlement where there is no admission of liability.
Does a settlement mean the other side admit I am in the right?
It is possible that as part of a settlement the other side may admit that you are in the right, but in most of cases there will be no admissions and no apologies. It is important, however, to remember that even if you win at court, the other side still will not admit that they are in the wrong or be forced to offer an apology. A court cannot order someone to apologise, only to pay a sum of money.
Still got questions?
Call me for a no-obligation consultation – and I will be happy to discuss all aspects of your personal injury claim to decide the best way to proceed including when and whether you settle now or go to trial.
I am a London-based solicitor and an expert in securing compensation for people who have been injured in accidents that were not their fault. I work on a no win-no fee basis so you will never have to fund any part of your personal injury claim.