Advantages and Disadvantages of Out-of-Court Solutions – Part II: What Does a Trial Offer?

August 17 2018 | Blog
  • Even though a settlement has some clear advantages, a trial may be more beneficial for the injured party in some circumstances. We explore the key differences in part II of our article.


    In part I of this article which you can read here, we discussed two factors that a plaintiff should consider while weighing the decision whether to agree to a settlement or not. We mentioned that settlements can be more cost effective and time efficient than trials. We also pointed out that settlement negotiations give both parties more control over the final outcome of the claim while trials can be largely unpredictable. In this week’s blog post, part II,  we will talk about privacy and finality as factors in deciding whether to settle. We will also point out some advantages of bringing a case to trial. Finally, we will also offer a word of caution to all those who have been offered a settlement and are considering whether they should accept it.

    Privacy and Finality

    The circumstances of the case, the details of the negotiations, and the ultimate terms of a settlement can be kept completely private. On the other hand, whatever happens during a trial becomes a matter of public record. Witness testimony, evidence, and many private details of both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s lives,  along with whatever spin the other party’s attorney give to them, are available for anyone to see and form an opinion about. The only way to avoid this is if the judge orders the records of the case to be sealed.

    In addition, a settlement is in most cases final and it is only possible to appeal under very unusual, limited circumstances. A jury verdict, on the other hand, can be appealed by the party who lost and the whole process may start all over again in a higher court.

    Why Go to Trial?

    Even though a settlement does have some advantages over a trial, it is not always advisable or beneficial for the injured party to settle out of court. For example, the compensation amount proposed in a settlement may be far lower than the actual worth of all the damages sustained by the plaintiff. In some cases, both the defendant and their representatives may be completely unresponsive and the insurance company behind the at-fault party may try to avoid any financial responsibility. In such circumstances, it is natural that the injured party should press on and attempt to assert their rights to compensation in a court of law.

    Sometimes a person suffers due to particularly reckless or irresponsible behavior of another party or group. For example, a group of medical patients may suffer health damage because a pharmaceutical company blatantly ignored and hid the risks of using a medicine or a medical device in order to protect their profits. If the injured patients decide to bring their case to a court, the jury may award a high amount of compensation along with punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter them, and others, from engaging in similar behavior in the future. By contrast, no punitive damages can be part of settlement negotiations because parties do not concede do any wrongdoing or admit guilt in a settlement.

    When Should You Not Agree to a Settlement?

    In the majority of personal injury claims, it is the at-fault party’s insurance company that ultimately bears the financial costs for compensation. Of course, when an insurer pays out compensation to an injured person, they take a loss. Therefore, some insurance companies try to avoid financial responsibility or get the plaintiff to accept a settlement amount worth far less than the value of their injuries and losses.

    A person should never enter into settlement negotiations without first contacting an experienced personal injury attorney. He or she will be in a position to analyze the accident, your injuries, and your financial losses and come up with a general estimate of the worth of your claim. An attorney will also see through any dishonest practices of the insurance company and other parties involved and skillfully navigate settlement negotiations. Ultimately, the decision whether to accept a settlement or pursue a trial should be made only after a careful consideration and under a direction of a trusted personal injury lawyer.

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