While it’s true that most personal injury claims settle out of court, it is also true that many other cases do not. One of the most difficult decisions our clients sometimes have to make is whether they should accept the settlement they have been offered or reject it and proceed to trial. As accident lawyers with decades of experience, we have learned what factors our clients should consider when deciding whether or not they should settle their claims. 

Consider the Complexities of Your Case

There is an old saying among lawyers - hard cases make bad law. For the client, this can mean that a difficult case can result in an unfavorable outcome. When considering whether or not you should settle your case, you need to think carefully about the following: 

  • Are you and the other party in sharp disagreement over the fundamental facts of the case?
  • Does your case present novel legal issues with no precedent? 
  • Do you and the other party disagree over how the law should be applied to your case? 

In many cases that go to trial, the only issue remaining is how much the claim is worth. Challenging legal issues and major disagreements over the facts can make it difficult to predict the outcome of your case. If you are uncomfortable with a potentially unpredictable outcome, settlement may be the better option. 

Is the Settlement Offer Reasonable? 

Insurance companies will rarely pay the amount demanded. The claim process is often a negotiation, a back-and-forth process whereby the parties meet in the middle on an amount to be paid. Of course, meeting in the middle is an oversimplification, but your attorney can provide guidance as to what amount would be a reasonable settlement. 

That said, insurance companies will often make low-ball settlement offers in the hope that they can settle the claim for as little as possible. If the insurance company is refusing to make an offer that even comes close to what would be fair, you should consider going to trial. 

Consider the Time Factor

Sometimes, litigation is the only option to get the compensation you are owed, but it can take a long time to get the result you are hoping for. It can take several months or even more than a year from the time you file the lawsuit until you get to trial. For clients who need their compensation to pay bills and cover other losses, waiting this long may not be an option. 

Covering Your Economic Losses

Whether it is a car accident or a slip and fall case, the two biggest losses that people experience are their medical bills and their lost income. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your medical bills can be exorbitant. Even if you have health insurance, your deductibles and copays could be significant. If you are considering whether or not to settle your claim, you should first make sure that your medical losses are covered. 

Lost income is another factor to consider. If you have been unable to work due to your injuries, your lost income may only be recoverable through your personal injury claim. Depending on the length of time you have been out of work, your losses could be significant. You should make sure that you are compensated for your lost income so that you can pay your bills. 

Are You Facing Long-Term or Permanent Disabilities?

Another factor to consider is whether you may be partially or totally disabled for the foreseeable future. Your disability may make it difficult or even impossible to earn a living. You may require daily in-home assistance to manage basic living activities. If you have a permanent or long-term disability, you may have future medical expenses, future lost income, and other future financial difficulties that you may deserve compensation for. In other words, you need to consider not just your present needs but any future needs you may have when deciding whether or not you should settle. If the insurance company is refusing to pay for your future losses, your best option may be to go to trial.  

What About Your Pain and Suffering? 

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to be made whole under the law. This includes your economic damages, such as your medical bills and lost wages, as well as your non-economic losses, such as your pain and suffering. Pain and suffering represents your physical pain and emotional anguish that you experience as a result of your injuries. This can include feeling anxious about your future, feeling sad or depressed because you cannot take care of yourself or your family, or feeling a sense of loss. 

Generally speaking, the more severe your injuries, the greater the compensation you can expect for your pain and suffering. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove the pain and suffering portion of your claim since there is no defined economic value. As a result, pain and suffering claims are one of the areas where an insurance company may try to pay as little as possible. You will need to, therefore, decide whether it is worth going to trial in order to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. 

The Risk of Losing

There are no guarantees when it comes to litigation. The judge may make an evidentiary ruling that undermines your case. Juries can be fickle. While your lawyer may be confident that they can achieve a positive result, there is no way they can be totally certain. When deciding whether or not to settle your case, you need to consider whether you are willing to accept the risk that the case may not go the way you had hoped. 

Injured? Contact Powell, Powell & Powell Today

At Powell, Powell & Powell, we work with our clients every step of the way, giving them the guidance they need to decide what is best for them. To schedule your free consultation, give us a call at 850-682-2757 or contact us online to discuss your case and how we can help.