July 12, 2024

Thousands of plaintiffs and defendants are currently involved in personal injury cases across the country. Fortunately for the state and federal courts, most of these claims will be settled before trial. There are several reasons.

Easing Stress

The personal injury lawsuit (litigation) process is unpredictable. This is especially true during the “discovery” period when the parties share material and strive to develop their case for trial.

Witnesses might falter during cross-examination, judges can make errors in evidence, and the court can appoint a rogue jury. An appeal is possible, but an appeals court cannot overrule all trial rulings, even if they are incorrect. Undeniably, an appeal can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take years.

Investing

Litigation is costly, especially in personal injury cases involving expert witnesses whose time is valued. Preparing reports, traveling, and testifying can cost a lot of money. In some cases, one party will have multiple expert witnesses, and injury attorneys often hire some. (Read about expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases.)

Personal injury claims are also costly since they consume an attorney’s time. A lawyer preparing pleadings, assessing discovery, scrutinizing documents, preparing witnesses, and fighting motions in court might easily spend thousands of hours. Each side can save thousands of dollars in legal bills by lowering trial preparation and trial time.

Time Saving

To get a verdict, you must file a personal injury complaint (the lawsuit’s commencement document) (sometimes several years). Injured parties must wait two years for compensation even if they win at trial. Then there’s the possibility of an appeal, which might add years to a personal injury lawsuit.

Working Less

For attorneys, settlement is usually best (and occasionally required) because most attorneys could not adequately manage all of their clients’ matters if they went to trial. The workload would be overwhelming, and many law firms would run out of attorneys to present in court.

Besides that, many plaintiffs’ law firms are volume-driven. Or, they take on many cases, expecting most to be settled. Even if the settlement amounts are small, an attorney can make money with enough cases.

Avoiding Extra Stress

Litigation is difficult for all parties. It annoys corporate defendants. Employees and corporate officers must set aside time to prepare for depositions, gather documents for discovery, or consult with the company’s lawyer.

Then there’s the plaintiff, who may have to experience a traumatic event several times before trial. During a trial, the plaintiff may be exposed to the public in an emotional state. Then there’s the uncertainty we mentioned previously. Plaintiffs will readily give up the possibility to raise their damages award to save worry and receive a guaranteed payout.

Not all claimants face these challenges. For some, litigating is all about going to trial. It’s their chance to be heard in court. The trial procedure probably matters more to them than the money. But these plaintiffs are rare, and if a settlement offer is large enough, even litigants may opt to take it.

Most settlement agreements allow the defendant to deny liability while agreeing to pay the plaintiff. This is significant for a defendant who wants to keep a certain public image.