Why You Should Consider Not Settling Out Of Court.
Why You Should Consider Going to Trial
It is common for plaintiffs to have the option to settle out of court without having to go to trial. In fact, it is estimated that only 5 to 10 percent of legal cases go trial.
This is largely due to the benefits of settling a case out of court. Aside from resulting in a more pronounced and immediate outcome, there are additional benefits to settling a case without proceeding to trial.
- Privacy: When a case is settled out of course, details are kept private and do not become a matter of public record.
- Flexibility: Unlike in court, attorneys representing both the plaintiff and defendant can address issues without typical procedural rules.
- Finality: A court decision can be appealed, whereas an out of court settlement is considered final when both parties agree to it.
There are certainly a number of drawbacks to settling, as well. Many times a plaintiff will find his or her attorney encouraging a settlement for unethical reasons.
Since a trial does not have a definite outcome, an attorney who lacks trial experience may encourage his or her client to settle. When this happens, it penalizes the plaintiff by surrendering a portion of the monetary compensation he or she could have received.
Myths Surrounding Going to Trial
In addition to attorneys who lack trial experience, there are a number of myths surrounding the process of trying a case. It is often the result of those myths that a plaintiff may agree to a settlement substantially below what he or she deserves.
Myth #1 – Trials Go On Forever
A plaintiff is often concerned that going to trial will result in months of extensive questioning, cross examination, and expert witness testimonials.
In actual fact, most trials last only four or five days.
Myth #2 – Settlements Are Just as Effective
A settlement may be effective in recovering some of the money a plaintiff would have won in court, but are they effective in bringing about change?
In a settlement, the plaintiff can request that the defendant make an apology for his or her actions. For instance, perhaps negligence was the cause of serious injury.
But without taking that cause to court, no precedent is set to influence policy changes. There is also no public record of the matter to bring about significant change in the future. This means that others may continue to suffer.
Myth #3 – Trials Are Expensive
A plaintiff may decide to settle of out court against the advice of his or her lawyer for financial reasons. He or she may rationalize, “It is better to accept a smaller amount of money now than endure the expense of a trial for a larger payout.”
While this may seem like sound reasoning, it is worth noting how your attorney is compensated. This is especially true in cases where you have retained a personal injury attorney.
For example, the law offices in Florida and Baltimore representing attorney Big Al do not charge fees in personal injury cases until money is recovered.
If your attorney is working on a similar compensation system, it is worth following his or her advice. After all, if your attorney knows that he or she will only get paid if you win your case.
The Benefits of Going to Trial
Ultimately, the decision to settle is entirely yours, as the plaintiff. But before you decide, consider a number of the benefits of going to trial:
- Compensation – Get the compensation you are rightfully entitled to. Settling often means forgoing the amount of money you actually deserve.
- Guilty Verdict – A court can find the defendant guilty. For many plaintiffs, this can be cathartic and help to bring closure to a painful ordeal.
- Create Change – All matters heard by the court become a matter of public record. This can result in positive changes made by the guilty party.
- Unbiased Outcome – Since a case brought before the court will be decided by a third party, a judge or a jury, you can be certain that justice will be served without bias.
If you have retained a personal injury lawyer in Florida, Baltimore, or elsewhere, you will need to give careful consideration to your particular case before deciding whether or not to settle.
In some cases, it may be the best option; however, you need to know that there will be pros and cons on either side of the coin.