What It Means to Settle Out of Court
Over 90% of cases will settle out of court—but what does that mean? It doesn’t mean that your claim has no merit or that it wasn’t “worth” going to trial. Instead, it indicates that the parties involved in your case decided to settle on a particular amount of money to complete your case.
Once you settle, you often waive your right to continue with your case or any other claims that you may have had against the opposing party.
Why Do Cases Settle?
Settlements are often advantageous for both parties, but not always. Some defendants settle because they want to compromise a valid claim. They do not want to pay for attorneys’ fees and other costs associated with taking a case all the way to court.
Other cases settle because the defendants are worried about the risk of a much higher award at trial. Insurance companies and other businesses are sometimes afraid that a jury will award significant damages in certain types of cases and they want to avoid the risk of that happening, so they decide to settle a lawsuit.
Some cases will make a company look bad, which can threaten their business. They want to avoid the bad press of litigation, so they settle before the case goes to trial.
When Can a Case Settle?
A case can settle at any time. You don’t even have to have a lawsuit on file to settle a case. In fact, many cases are resolved before the victim goes through the formal process of asserting a suit. Early settlement can mean fewer costs, but it does come with some risks as well.
In many personal injury cases, for example, it takes time to truly understand the extent of your injuries and how they are going to affect your life. If you settle too early, you may not realize how much additional costs you may incur for medical expenses. In some situations, you may not understand immediately that you will not be able to go back to work or can no longer work in the same job. That type of change will significantly affect your potential damages in a case, which makes your claim worth more overall.
Settling right before trial certainly happens, but that may not be ideal either. It takes a great deal of time and effort to plan and prepare for trial. Personal injury victims likely have to endure prodding and prompting into their personal lives to get that far—and all of that could have been avoided with a settlement.
Timing is everything. Settling too early may mean not getting the full value of what your case is worth. Settling too late may mean that you already put in all of the time and effort of getting ready for trial for nothing. Your personal injury lawyer will help you decide when the right time to settle your particular case may be.
Why Don’t All Cases Settle?
In some situations, it may not be appropriate to settle a case. You never have to settle. You have a right to have your case heard, often in front of a jury in your community. Some victims want to be able to tell their story and warn others about a particular injury through the litigation process. In other situations, the other party may simply not want to pay a victim the real value of their case to compensate them for their losses.
Every case is different. Whether a case settles will depend on the facts of the situation, the type of case, and how juries in your area react to cases like yours. It may also depend on the attorneys involved as well. Some lawyers work well with others and can reach a settlement that will work for everyone. Other attorneys are more conflict-driven and will push toward trial because they feel that is how they will get the most benefit for their client.
Is Settling the Right Choice for You?
Settling may not be an option in every situation, and it may not be a good idea in other circumstances. Your attorney will be able to help you determine when a settlement is a good idea for you.
If you are considering a settlement that has been offered by an insurance company, you need to talk to a lawyer before you accept. Call Yardley Law today for more information on how we can help.