Why Are Most Personal Injury Cases Settled Out of Court?

Why Are Most Personal Injury Cases Settled Out of Court

If you’ve recently suffered major injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be trying to mentally prepare yourself for a possible lawsuit. While personal injury claims do go to trial sometimes, a much larger percentage are settled out of court before the trial begins. In many cases, an out-of-court settlement is a win-win solution for each party. That’s because the injured person would receive an appropriate settlement check while the other party saved time, money, stress, their reputation, and so much more. Below, our Chicago personal injury lawyers break down the specifics of why so many personal injury cases are settled out of court.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, call a Chicago personal injury lawyer at 312-321-1111 today.

What is a Settlement?

A settlement is a mutual agreement between multiple parties involved in a legal issue, and it generally occurs before or after a court case. Settlement agreements often involve a money transfer of some sort for the wronged or injured person (AKA: the plaintiff). If the plaintiff wins, they could receive a large sum of money up front for their physical injuries/damages. Or the two parties could agree on invoicing and payment schedule. That way, the injured person could receive multiple payments for economic damages, non-economic damages, and even punitive damages over the course of several years.

Settlements often produce win-win solutions for everyone involved. Pursuing litigation is incredibly stressful, expensive, unpredictable, time-consuming, and public. In most cases, it’s better when the parties reach some kind of private settlement that benefits each other in some way. For example, one party could benefit from obtaining compensation for their injuries and the other party could benefit by protecting their image and saving time.

What is an Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is similar to a settlement agreement, but different. ADR is when a legal dispute is resolved without court involvement. There are several types of ADR mechanisms including mediation, arbitration, conciliation, negotiation, and transaction.

The two parties involved could resolve their dispute with or without a neutral third party (a lawyer), but many choose to bring in a professional opinion in order to best protect their legal rights.

out of court settlement personal injury

Why Are Most Personal Injury Cases Settled Out of Court?

A very small percentage of personal injury cases – usually less than 10% – actually proceed to trial. Why is that?

There are so many reasons why two parties agree on an out-of-court settlement. Below, Chicago personal injury lawyers at Curcio & Casciato break down the most common reasons why most cases don’t go to trial.

Avoiding Unpredictability

The first reason why so many parties settle out of court is due to unpredictability during the lawsuit. New information and new claims can come to light at any time, which can threaten the outcome for both the plaintiff and the defendant. This generally happens during the “discovery phase” of a lawsuit, which is when both parties exchange information about their witnesses and evidence before a trial takes place.

There’s lots of unpredictability during the actual trial too, not just before the trial. Witnesses can get so nervous and flustered during an intense cross-examination, which can really change the outcome of a case. Witnesses can also choose to just not show up. Meanwhile, judge and jury verdicts can be completely wrong despite clear and convincing evidence.

So an injured plaintiff could go into a trial feeling good, like they have an excellent chance at winning, and yet the other party could still somehow win due to a variety of unexpected factors. The chances of this happening are lower with an excellent personal injury lawyer, but still, outcomes like this can and do happen.

Saving Money

Settling out of court also allows everyone to save money in the long run. Lawsuits are incredibly expensive. This is especially true for complex cases – like medical malpractice cases, for example – which requires one or more expert witnesses. In medical malpractice lawsuits, the expert witnesses are usually other doctors in the area whose time is very valuable. It takes lots of money to bring them in.

Not to mention, the attorney’s time and effort is expensive. Attorneys on both sides have to gather evidence, prepare evidence, prepare pleadings, argue in court, ensure that all witnesses are prepared, and more. They may have to do all this for days or weeks, depending on the length of the trial. Because of all this, legal fees alone are usually astronomical for both parties.

That’s why it’s so much easier for defendants to pay large sums of money to plaintiffs in order to just put the matter to rest. Even if the settlement amount ends up being in the thousands or hundreds of thousands, everyone will still probably save money in the long run.

Saving Time

You know the saying: time is money. If you’re saving time, you’re probably also saving money in our capitalistic society.

The reality is that lawsuits can go on for a long time, especially if the personal injury case is complicated. It can take a year or longer to reach a verdict. Sometimes, a party will appeal a verdict, which can easily tack on several more years to the whole process. By the time it’s all said and done, it could take years before a plaintiff actually receives financial compensation for their injuries.

In short, everyone will save time with an out-of-court settlement agreement.

Reducing Stress

Not only are lawsuits time-consuming and expensive, but they’re also incredibly stressful. For many plaintiffs, there is so much at stake: their physical health, their mental health, their finances, their relationships, their jobs, etc. Not to mention, the accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was likely very traumatic, and litigation requires them to quite literally relive it for weeks, months, and even years. Reliving trauma while still trying to recover is naturally very stressful. Most of the time, an out-of-court settlement agreement directly equals less stress.

Reducing Workload

Resolving legal issues in court requires weeks, months, and sometimes years of work. Think about it: if every single case that a lawyer took on went to trial, they would likely never have time to eat, drink, or breathe. Law firms would need to have dozens of lawyers on staff if every single case went to trial. Preparing and negotiating an out-of-court settlement agreement requires far much less work for everyone, especially the lawyers.

Increasing Privacy

The information revealed in lawsuits is available for anyone’s prying eyes via public records. This can be a very bad thing if the liable party is a well-known person or corporation. When a case settles outside of court, most personal injury case information stays out of public record. That way, everyone’s reputation and ego can stay largely intact.

what percentage of personal injury cases go to trial

Call Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers at Curcio & Casciato Today

If you or someone you love suffered catastrophic injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you may have grounds to pursue legal action. Chicago personal injury lawyers at Curcio & Casciato can examine the facts of your case and help you determine the best course of action, whether that be negotiating a settlement with an insurance company or with the negligent party. Our goal is to always protect the legal rights of our clients and help them obtain the compensation they deserve. Call 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation at our law firm today.

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