The ultimate goal of any plaintiff’s attorney filing a lawsuit is obtaining the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. There are many ways in which to achieve this outcome. A lawsuit can end in a settlement or a judgment from a trial. Each of these results has their advantages. Your attorney will help you decide if it is in the best interest of the case to settle or go to trial. There are various considerations in determining whether a settlement or trial is best for you.
How much Time will the case take?
There is no limit on the time that a lawsuit can take. From the initial filing to a judge or jury verdict, years can elapse. One reason for this vast amount of time is because the discovery process in complex cases can take years to complete. Discovery is the process of each side providing documents to the other side in support of their claims. The more complex the case, or the more issues at stake, the longer discovery can take. Taking a case to trial generally takes longer than if a case settles. You must decide if you are able to wait years for a trial to conclude, or if taking a settlement offer earlier in the case is the better option. The lawyer will advise the client on settlement or go to trial, but the ultimate decision is the client’s to make and not the lawyer.
How much is a case going to cost me?
Another consideration is that the cost of going to trial is more expensive than if a settlement is reached. Attorney fees, expenses, court costs, travel, and witness costs add up quickly. While you are usually not paying these costs up front because of a contingency fee agreement, these expenses will be deducted from your award. If you are in a financial situation in which you need payment sooner than a trial would result in, a settlement offer could be better for you.
The unpredictability of case results
There is a lot of preparation done for both trials and settlement conferences (called mediation). A settlement conference will likely result in a settlement offer. You will know exactly what the other party is offering and leave nothing to chance. In a trial, there is no guarantee that a verdict will be reached in your favor. It is up to the judge or jury, and the outcome is unpredictable. There is a wise old saying among trial lawyers: “Two things in life you never can know are what a little boy has in his pocket and what a jury might do.”
The Value of Your Case
Finally, you must consider what you think your case is worth. Generally speaking, a case will settle for less than the full amount that could be awarded at trial. This is because the opposing party is attempting to reduce their costs and expenses by settling with you prior to trial. If you receive a settlement offer, you must weigh that against what you (and your attorney) think you can receive should you go to trial.
If you have an automobile accident, workers’ compensation, or personal injury case, Double Aught Injury Lawyers offers a FREE consultation to answer any questions you have. The experienced trial attorney will guide you through your lawsuit and, when the time comes, help you determine if a settlement or trial is best for you.
Bryan Ramey is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in the upstate of South Carolina. He graduated from The University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 27 years now. Bryan Ramey believes in representing the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.