In an interesting and well-researched article published in the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal in 2002, the author explained a host of reasons for why there are remarkably fewer cases being taken to trial every year. As the author notes, when it comes to civil cases, the reasons are pretty complicated. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is that judges prefer to see cases resolved without a trial. Plus, litigation is time-consuming and expensive. For many cases, it simply doesn’t make sense. This is especially true for smaller-value cases.
Nevertheless, when you’ve been injured by someone else, there can be a lot of emotional factors involved in the decision. So, to help you with this difficult choice, let’s look at a few things you should consider when deciding whether a settlement is right for you.
Honestly Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Case
Your attorney’s job is to honestly assess your case. You don’t want a lawyer who will give you false hope or just tell you what you want to hear. Instead, you and your lawyer should sit down and seriously look at the ways that your case is strong and the ways that you may have problems if you go to trial.
For instance, say you slipped up and told the police officer on the scene that you looked at your radio for a second and didn’t even see the other driver before he hit you. While the wreck may be entirely the other driver’s fault, this statement may be used to cast doubt on your story or make it look like you share blame. Most people are very aware of Missouri distracted driving laws, so this could make a jury think you were guilty of something, even if this is completely untrue.
If a jury buys this argument, your award could be much less than you expect. Consider these types of facts when deciding whether to take a chance at trial.
How Long Are You Prepared to Wait?
Time is a big factor. A settlement is a compromise that allows you to be paid now, rather than later. If you decide to file suit, your case will not go directly in front of a jury. Instead, your attorney will file a formal complaint, which becomes public record. This document starts the lawsuit. From that point, a judge will manage the flow of work. Many civil cases take years to reach trial. In the meantime, there will be depositions and court appearances, and a number of other procedural steps. You should strongly weigh this when deciding whether to settle.
Take a Good Look at Your Costs
Is the settlement going to leave you with unpaid expenses, lost income, or medical bills? If so, then you may seriously want to consider filing suit. By the same token, filing suit costs money. At the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm, we never make our clients pay these costs upfront, because we advance all the costs. If we win money for our clients, then we get reimbursed for those expenses. Still, filing suit increases the amount that will come out of your final payment.
How to Assess Your Case
No attorney can guarantee you will recover money. There are simply too many variables. Typically, however, an experienced personal injury lawyer can give you a good idea whether you have a case or not. The further along the case gets, the better you and your attorney will be able to assess the likely recovery amount. For a free case evaluation, call or visit the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm online today. There is no charge and no obligation.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.