When you suffer injuries in a personal injury accident, you may seek compensation for your accident-related medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress. Although some personal injury cases end up in court, you can also pursue a settlement from the responsible party’s insurance company without involving the legal system.
Deciding whether to take a settlement from the insurance company or pursue damages in court can affect the amount you receive and the time it takes to get the payment. Work with an experienced attorney at Great West Injury Law to understand the pros and cons of each option and help you decide how to proceed with your case.
The Pros and Cons of Seeking an Out-of-Court Settlement
Pursuing a settlement with the insurance company offers several advantages over litigation and a potential trial. Benefits include fewer costs, quicker payment, and more control over the outcome.
- Settlements require less preparation and fewer expert consultation hours than trials, resulting in lower legal costs. Your lawyer will send a demand letter outlining your claim to request a settlement amount. If the insurance company agrees, you avoid taking the case out of court, saving you money.
- Settlements cause less stress than going to trial. Unlike a public trial, working with the insurance company lets you settle in private and avoid sharing your medical records. It also means you don’t have to testify before a jury, give a deposition, or go through cross-examination.
- The court system moves slowly, and waiting for a court date can take months or years. You and your legal team can negotiate a settlement in a matter of weeks, allowing you to receive your compensation much more quickly than a jury award.
- Once agreed upon, settlement decisions are final. You know how much money to expect and when to expect it. This knowledge allows you to plan your finances and relieves stress.
Despite the benefits of seeking a settlement directly from the insurance company, there are a few disadvantages:
- The agreement might bar you from speaking publicly about your case. Most settlements include a non-disclosure agreement or statement of confidentiality. If your case involves a matter that could help others, such as a medical malpractice injury, this can prevent you from aiding other victims.
- You likely won’t receive as much money as you could get at trial. Insurance adjusters offer settlements for less than juries award plaintiffs in similar cases. They also factor in your chances of winning at trial.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Going to Court
A trial offers some advantages over a settlement, including the potential for a higher jury award, publicizing the other person’s wrongdoing, and holding them accountable.
- A trial allows you to pursue maximum damages rather than agree to a reasonable settlement. Your attorney can help you seek economic damages like lost wages and medical bills and non-economic damages like loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering.
- If the negligence in your case is especially malicious, you may also pursue punitive damages. Utah only limits damages in medical malpractice cases, so you can potentially win a large award in a jury trial.
- A trial makes the actions of the person who caused your injuries public. Trials allow the public to know the details of what occurred, forcing the negligent party to defend their actions. Settlement agreements usually include a clause that doesn’t make the responsible party admit guilt or wrongdoing. A trial can give you a cathartic experience if you want to share your story.
However, the trial also has disadvantages, including:
- Juries are unpredictable, so you risk losing the case and receiving zero compensation. Insurance companies count on this factor to influence most people to settle, and you should consider the risk involved in your case.
- Your actions and past will be subject to public scrutiny during a trial. Anything that gets entered into evidence becomes part of the public record.
- Even when you win, you may face appeals. You don’t know when you can expect to receive any payment. Courts don’t require defendants to send payments when appealing the verdict.
- You must deal with Utah’s comparative negligence statute, which says you must prove you were less than 50% responsible for the accident. If the other side proves you bear half the responsibility for your injuries, you won’t receive damages.
The Role of Your Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney knows the benefits and drawbacks of negotiating with insurance companies versus taking a case to court. They can review your case details to help you determine which path is likely to give you the best outcome.
Your lawyer will want you to receive maximum compensation as quickly as possible and advise you accordingly. However, you retain the right to take whichever legal action most aligns with your reasons for pursuing compensation.
Your lawyer will aggressively pursue compensation once you decide on your course of action. If you decide on a settlement because you need money quickly, your attorney will negotiate with the company to maximize your compensation. If you choose a trial, your lawyer will work with an expert team to prepare the most robust case.
Seek Legal Representation with Great West Injury Law
Idaho personal injury lawyers with Great West Injury Law want to help you get compensation for your injuries as soon as possible. We’ll look at the specifics of your case and tell you the pros and cons of seeking a settlement versus going to trial. We are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies for fair settlements and building a case to win maximum damages at trial.
We believe you should receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn your options.