In the state of California, if you experience an accident due to someone else’s negligence, there are two ways in which you can get compensated: by being offered a settlement for your injuries and damages, or by going through the civil lawsuit process.
If you have been in an accident that resulted in injury, you may be wondering how to proceed. An excellent way to assess your options and weigh the legalities of your particular situation is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Your personal injury attorney will be able to help you negotiate a settlement or advise you in court, should your case call for it.
A lawsuit may result in better compensation for you. There are many different factors that you should consider before choosing to file a lawsuit or deciding to settle. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each.
Personal Injury Settlements
A settlement offer happens when a defendant or insurance adjuster offers to compensate you for being injured. A settlement transpires anytime after a claim is filed, but a trial hasn’t begun. A settlement can also be given when a trial has started, but no verdict has been reached.
Once an agreement on the settlement has been reached, the plaintiff is required to renounce all claims that have come from being in the accident or incident. The plaintiff will then be asked to sign a liability release.
Pros and Cons of Settling
When weighing your options, it is always important to know the benefits and the potential negatives of choosing one course of action over the other.
As the plaintiff, you and your attorney are in control of the negotiations. You will be free to accept or decline the offer that the defendant has given you and to negotiate a new amount if the offer doesn’t satisfy you.
Once you have settled, the deal is permanent. If further problems arise from your injury after a settlement has been accepted, there will be nothing else that you can do with the case.
A settlement is going to be much quicker than a trial. On average, you can have a settlement resolved in three to six months. A trial can last months or even years, in some cases. Settlements are more efficient, less costly, and potentially less stressful.
There is a chance you could get better compensation if you take your case to trial. An attorney will help you determine if a trial is worth the cost and time to litigate.
Pros and Cons of Going to Trial
You could be awarded better compensation if you take your case to trial. When going to trial, the judge is free to make a judgement based on the factors of the case and the evidence your attorney provides. When an impartial judge is involved, proving your case is the focus, rather than negotiating a settlement with a party whose financial interest is to pay out as little as possible.
When you go to trial, there is always risk associated. It’s not always guaranteed that you will win, nor receive any compensation. You could spend a lot of time and money on your trial just to lose the case.
If you are successful at trial, it could give you a better sense of justice. Due to the nature of the trial, the defendant could be found liable. However, in a settlement, the defendant never has to admit guilt to anything related to your personal injury.
Going to trial is often a long, extensive process. It is vital that you weigh your options and find an experienced personal injury lawyer. Trials can take years — make sure that the court costs and attorney fees are worth your time.
Why You Might Choose To Settle
There are several rationales to why you may elect to settle your case instead of going to trial.
Trials are Stressful
In a personal injury case, a trial is likely to only last for a few days or weeks. However, the process of a trial is often stressful for all parties that are involved. Anyone involved in the accident is subject to examinations and cross-examinations on a witness stand during a trial. Often, a person’s character and past are publicly surveyed.
The weeks leading up to the trial will be filled with interviews and labor-intensive questions for all parties. With a settlement, you will negotiate an agreement to get compensated, and the case is concluded.
Settlements are Private
If your personal injury case goes to trial, then all records of the trial will be on public record. The only way for this instance to not happen is if the judge orders to seal the records. This rarely ever happens.
This means that anything that is said, including testimonies and evidence used against each other, will be accessible for anyone to read. Settling your case out of court will ensure that this information stays private, leaving you in control of what information the public can get ahold of.
Trials are Unpredictable
A jury could rule in your favor and award you with a higher payout than what the settlement offer amounted to. It’s not guaranteed. When you go to trial, everything is unpredictable. The judge could exclude evidence, inconsistencies with testimonies, or a witness could be deemed unreliable.
What’s even more unpredictable is the amount that the jury will award to you as the plaintiff. Whatever money you receive is up to the jury’s discretion. This number will always vary and will never be more than an educated guess at the amount. When you settle your personal injury case out of court, both involved parties have control of the negotiation.
Hann Law Firm Can Help
If you have been injured in an accident in California and would like to learn more about your legal rights, Hann Law Firm is here to help.
We provide a thoughtful approach to personal injury cases and help you get the compensation you need while you focus on your recovery. We are seasoned litigators who know how to win – Contact us today to find out how we can help you get the justice you deserve.