Many lawyers get asked by their clients if their personal injury case will go to trial. Whether a client is dealing with a broken bone following a car accident, a small dog bite, or a severe injury at their construction job. Some clients might even be apprehensive about seeking a lawyer for fear of their case being presented in front of a judge or jury.
However, while trials make for great television, most personal injury cases never go before a judge or jury. Some estimates show that only five percent of cases make it to trial. However, just because a case doesn’t make it to trial doesn’t mean a victim won’t receive justice. Instead of trying to help your case go to trial, most personal injury lawyers emphasize helping you receive a larger settlement.
What’s the Difference Between a Trial and a Settlement?
There are two ways to seek and gain compensation following a personal injury. The first is when the negligent party — such as the insurance company — grants the plaintiff a settlement that both parties agree on. The other method is by going to trial.
A personal injury results in a civil lawsuit; however, such a case hardly ever goes to trial. There are a few reasons why:
- Time and money: A trial takes considerable time and money for both parties. Even an insurance company or corporation often decides that a trial isn’t worth it.
- One party knows they don’t have a good defense: There might be more than enough evidence to show that a defendant is at fault and trying to exhaust resources for a good defense might not be worth it.
- Trials can be risky: Although trials can help victims receive greater compensation, there’s no guarantee. Instead, there can be unexpected outcomes for both parties.
Reasons Why a Case Would Go to Trial
While a personal injury case going to trial is rare it does sometimes happen. It’s no surprise that insurance companies will try to avoid paying as much as they can. Victims are often offered an amount that doesn’t begin to cover immediate expenses like their medical bills let alone factors like pain and suffering.
Having a personal injury lawyer on your side is normally enough to force an insurance company to pay its fair share. However, some insurance companies might still try to use tactics like refusing to negotiate, being unavailable, or simply offering an inadequate amount. In these scenarios, going to trial might be the best option.
A famous example is the widely misunderstood Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants case. In this case, McDonald’s knowingly served coffee that was too hot, resulting in the plaintiff suffering from third-degree burns. She then sought $18,000 for damages and lost wages, but McDonald’s only offered $800. After negotiations, McDonald’s still refused to settle, resulting in a trial in which Ms. Liebeck received, in the end, $640,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
While there are some rare exceptions, most personal injury cases don’t see a courtroom. However, a successful personal injury case often requires assistance from a personal injury lawyer. Our lawyers at David & Philpot, P.L. can help!