Settlement vs. Trial—The Pros and Cons
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make, should you be injured because of someone else’s careless act, is whether to present your case to a judge and jury or try to resolve your dispute through a negotiated settlement. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The ultimate decision should only be made through consultation with your attorney, based on the merits of your case and your individual needs. Here, though, are some of the fundamental differences between settlement and trial.
The Amount of Time Involved
Taking your case to trial must be viewed as a long-term commitment. Once your complaint is filed, the defendant will have a certain amount of time to respond. You’ll then conduct discovery, where evidence is gathered and preserved (a process that can take months or even years). After discovery, there are customarily hearings regarding evidence, motions to dismiss and other matters. Even when the trial finally begins, you’ll have jury selection, direct and cross examination, and oral arguments.
With a negotiated settlement, you’ll receive your award shortly after you reach agreement.
Your Control Over the Final Result
There’s always risk any time you take a case to a jury. You may believe that your facts are compelling, but juries can surprise you. Even if they rule in your favor, they may not award you the compensation you believe you deserve.
With a settlement, while you may need to make concessions or find compromise, you won’t be at the whim of a jury. You can accept or reject the offer made by the defendant or propose a counter-offer.
Because your lawyer will likely bill you on a contingent fee basis, the extra time required to take your case to trial won’t equate to additional billable hours. You can, however, typically expect more out-of-pocket costs, should your case go to trial. Furthermore, many personal injury attorneys take a larger percentage of a jury verdict than a settlement.
The Potential Recovery
Studies show that, on average, a person who successfully recovers a jury award will get more than a person who settles a claim before trial. If you’re willing to take greater risk, you are likely to get greater reward.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
At the Law Offices of Howard D. Popper, we can help protect your rights. For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after any type of personal injury, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton.
We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.