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Stand Your Ground: When Not to Settle in Personal Injury Cases

When to Take Your Personal Injury Claim to Court

Settling a personal injury claim can often seem like the quickest and least stressful solution, but there are times when taking your case to court could be much more beneficial. As an injury victim, you need to understand when you have a lot of leverage in a case so that you can avoid prematurely settling for less than you deserve.

Understanding When Not to Settle

The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled outside of court. And, in many of these cases, it’s actually within the best interests of both parties to get the claim settled. However, not every case should be settled. 

Here are some of the different reasons why you might be better off taking the claim to court:

  • When Offers Are Too Low: Often, initial settlement offers may not be enough to cover all your long-term needs, such as ongoing medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost wages. In a lot of cases, the initial offer is worth just 20 to 50 percent of what the insurance company believes your case is actually worth. They do this to leave room for negotiation. If the initial offers for compensation don’t align with the severity of your injuries and your future financial needs, going to court might be your best option.

  • Clear Liability: If the evidence strongly supports that the other party was at fault, and their liability is clear, this can work to your advantage in court. When the defendant’s responsibility is undeniable, jurors might be more sympathetic, which can increase the potential compensation awarded.

  • Underestimated Damages: Sometimes, the true extent of your injuries and their impact on your life can be underestimated or downplayed by the opposing side. Court proceedings allow you to fully present the damages – both economic and non-economic – ensuring that the less obvious or long-term effects of your injury are also accounted for and valued correctly.

  • Punitive Damages: In cases of gross negligence or malicious intent, pursuing a trial can lead to punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior. These are rarely included in settlement negotiations but can significantly increase the financial compensation you receive.

Choosing the Right Legal Support

It’s important that you hire a lawyer who is prepared to take your case to court if necessary. While many personal injury lawyers may push for settlement to avoid lengthy trials, you need someone who isn’t afraid to fight for your best interests in front of a judge and jury. (Not all attorneys are willing to go to court. Most would prefer a quick settlement, which requires less of their time. So be willing to do your due diligence and look around.)

It’s also important that you find an attorney who has a solid track record of securing favorable verdicts in court. This not only shows that they have the necessary experience but also that they are capable of managing the complexities of a trial.

3 Strategic Considerations

As you consider whether to take your case to court, there are some additional strategic considerations that you’d be wise to mull over. Here are three of them:

  • Strength of Evidence

The strength of your evidence can definitely influence the decision to go to trial. This includes everything from medical records and expert testimony to proof of lost earnings and other financial impacts. You might be correct in the fact that your claim should be worth more than what the insurance company is offering to settle for, but if you don’t have strong evidence, taking it to court might not be the best option. Judges and juries like provable facts – so make sure you have them on your side.

  • Credibility of Witnesses

The credibility and availability of witnesses who can testify on your behalf are also crucial. Their testimonies can help strengthen your case and influence the outcome in your favor. Are the witnesses in your case willing to testify in court? This is another determining factor.

  • Emotional and Financial Costs

While pursuing a trial can be beneficial, make sure you consider the emotional and financial costs. Trials can be lengthy and stressful, and there’s always a degree of uncertainty regarding the outcome. Ensure you are prepared for the duration and the potential costs involved – emotionally and physically.

Putting it All Together

Most personal injury cases are settled outside of court. However, if you feel like going to trial is necessary, don’t be afraid to find an attorney who is willing to go down this path with you. It could be the right decision in the long term!