Accident Injury Claim: Settle or go to Court?

Although a large number of injury claims settle before they reach the courtroom, there are some that cannot be agreed without resorting to litigation and therefore proceed to trial. People sometimes consider in injury claims that settling out of court means a less lucrative deal than after a court battle, but this is not the case.

Why Settle Out of Court

If your attorney considers that it is in your best interests to settle the case out of court they will advise you of this fact. That said, it is always important to research your attorney’s record prior to entering into an agreement with them. Make sure that they are suitably qualified to represent you in your case, and that they have taken other injury claims to trial before. If you know that they have a track record of settling cases, the insurance company undoubtedly will too, and this may mean that the insurers offer a lower settlement figure because they are confident that the case will not proceed to court. This is particularly the case in injury claims in which the compensation at stake is substantial. Conversely, some accident lawyers have reputations for being tough opponents in court and this can deter others from wanting to take a case to trial.

Reasons to go to Court

However, there are also many good practical reasons for avoiding going to court. Litigation is stressful, onerous and tiring. It takes a lot of preparation to get a case ready for final hearing, and the costs associated with litigation can be very high. You are likely to be required for questioning in the case and this involves the opponent’s lawyers asking you questions that are specifically designed to trip you up. However, if a trial is required in order to decide your claim, a good accident attorney will brief you as to what to expect in court beforehand so that you are well prepared. Some cases, however, cannot be settled out of court and must proceed to trial for determination by jury. This is usually where there is a dispute as to a major element of the case such as whether the injuries were caused by the accident, and if there are highly conflicting accounts as to blame apportionment.

Checking Retainer Agreement with your Lawyer

When you choose your accident claim lawyer, check the retainer agreement with them to see whether or not your case can be settled without your consent. If your lawyer has agreed a settlement figure without your consent, and you have not yet signed a settlement and release document, simply communicate to your lawyer that you are not content to agree that figure.

If you have no Attorney

Even if you haven’t spoken to an attorney about your case yet, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a specialist accident lawyer before accepting any settlement offered by an insurance company. You may think that the offer the insurers have made is generous and acceptable, but it could be that the insurers are offering you the lowest possible amount