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Should I accept a settlement or take a case before a jury? – What are the parameters to help me decide?

Deciding whether to accept an injury claim settlement or take an injury case to trial can be a very difficult decision for some injured claimants and a relatively easy decision for others.

Personal injury lawyers understand there are some advantages in taking a case to trial when there is no chance the injured party will be assigned any personal fault, which is generally the situation when an injured passenger has filed an auto accident claim. Claimants who could potentially be assigned any amount of personal fault in causing the injury/accident have another consideration in North Carolina due to the pure contributory negligence law applied to injury cases in the state. If you were involved in an auto accident and driving at the time, there is a definite possibility of claim denial in a trial due to North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws, where a contributory fault of only 1% can result in the loss of your claim.

Advantages of Accepting a Settlement

The first and foremost advantage of taking an injury claim settlement is that the case will be concluded resulting in the release and dispersal of the claim funds. Many claimants go through a long and rigorous negotiation period even when a settlement has been reached, and the ultimate payment of benefits can bring some amount of closure depending on the severity of the injury and unique case factors.

It is common for other individuals to be involved in accident cases, and many times those are family members or other close friends who have perhaps been cited as key witnesses to the accident. A settlement acceptance means the case will not go through the public viewing process, and potential witnesses are relieved from the oftentimes harrowing experience of having to give testimony in open court. It is quite common for Insurance defense attorneys to try all means at their disposal to elicit conflicting testimony from witnesses, testimony which might result in the assignment of some blame against the plaintiff. Personal injury lawyers also understand these tactics, and a jury that has been persuaded even slightly could easily issue an unfavorable verdict. Trying an injury case in North Carolina brings inherent risks, and a settlement avoids all of those potential negative outcomes.

Advantages of a Case Trial

The fact is that the large majority of accident and injury cases are settled out of court. Trials will take much longer for final adjudication and many times a claimant does not want to wait that long when a settlement is on the table. The most appropriate time for taking a case to trial is in an egregiously serious injury case where there is zero chance the claimant will be assigned any personal fault in the accident, and there is a high probability that damages awarded by a jury will far exceed the offer made for an out of court settlement. Juries often approve more significant financial awards than that tabled for a settlement, and being made financially whole following an accident is a serious consideration.

In some cases, a client may find themselves at loggerheads with their personal injury attorney on which was to proceed. It may be that the client is disappointed with the tabled offer but the attorney is recommending against taking the case to trial. Or it could be that the client is uneasy at the prospect of a trial in open court, where their attorney is pushing strongly in that direction. The decision ultimately rests with the injured party, but that does not obligate the law firm to represent the client in court if it is the attorney’s belief that the successful prosecution of the case is unlikely.

Clearly it is important that you engage with the right attorney from the start, one with whom you share a common goal for the outcome of the case. The likelihood of a settlement or a case going to trial should be discussed as early as your initial case consultation, though it isn’t always possible for an attorney to gauge the best option without further examination of the facts.

Connect with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Kellum Law Firm and you’ll receive a no-cost no-obligation review of your case. We can represent you all the way through trial if a satisfactory offer is not presented by the defendant’s insurance company.

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