Personal injury cases, or tort cases, give victims injured by negligence or wrongdoing the opportunity to obtain compensation for damages. When a victim files a personal injury lawsuit, this does not mean that the injured plaintiff will end up having to go to court. In fact, the vast majority of injury cases are settled before a jury ever hears a word from either the plaintiff or defendant.
If you are injured and want to take legal action, you should not hesitate out of fear of a long or contentious trial. If settling is important to you, an experienced injury attorney can negotiate with the insurer or person who hurt you and help you come to an agreement for out-of-court compensation.
Pretrial Settlement Percentage
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 2 percent of tort claims are decided by either a trial before a judge or a trial before a jury. Nine out of 10 tort trials involve personal injury cases including claims arising from auto accidents, medical malpractice, boating accidents, and defective products – among others. When a case does go to trial, a jury is much more likely to decide the case than a judge.
A case will go to trial only in limited situations where a plaintiff and a defendant are not able to come to an agreement on a settlement and a plaintiff decides to move forward with a lawsuit. A plaintiff and defendant can negotiate a settlement at any point, even after a lawsuit has been filed with the court. This means settlement negotiations may be ongoing through the pretrial phase and can continue even after evidence is presented to a judge or a jury.
There are advantages for plaintiffs who decide to go to trial. A jury may be sympathetic and award a larger amount of compensation than an insurer or defendant may otherwise have offered for losses. Jurors in some claims could even award punitive damages that are designed to punish the defendant for wrongdoing and deter future bad behavior.
There are also some disadvantages associated with going to trial. If your case goes to trial, it is going to take a longer period of time before your claim is resolved and you receive money to cover the losses caused by your injuries. You will have the burden of proving that the defendant is legally responsible for harming you, and you are going to have to present evidence in compliance with all of the procedural rules for the court where your trial occurs. There is also a chance that the jury will find for the defendant and you won’t obtain compensation.
Your lawyer can help you decide whether to take your case to trial or not. Since so few cases end up being decided by a judge or a jury, you should never be afraid to make a personal injury claim out of fear of ending up in court. Almost all personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, meaning any legal fees will be paid only when your case is won as a percentage of the settlement or verdict.