Injury Cases: When to Go to Trial and When to Settle 

Posted by Randy Andrus | Nov 16, 2021

Healing from an injury, whether caused by an accident or intentional act, can be a long and frustrating journey. Along the way, many difficult choices present themselves. Which injury lawyer do you choose? Do you submit an injury claim or not? Do you file a lawsuit? How do you decide the amount of compensation you need and deserve? A skilled lawyer will help answer many of your questions throughout your journey, and the decision of whether to settle or go to trial is no different. With your injury lawyer’s experience and the facts of the case, he or she will advise you to settle or to go to trial. 

In this article, we'll discuss the process of making the decision to accept the settlement offer or not and define relevant terms. If you're looking for advice on your case, give our personal injury lawyer in Utah a call today at 801-400-9860. Alternatively, you can fill out our secure online form, and we will reach out to you to set up an initial consultation.  

What Is a Settlement?

A settlement is an official legal resolution of a lawsuit. If a settlement is reached between a plaintiff, defendant and their lawyers, the matter does not have to go to trial. However, if a fair and appropriate settlement offer cannot be reached, it may make sense to let the court decide. 

A settlement may be reached at any point during the lawsuit. Sometimes settlements may be reached before a lawsuit is filed. Most cases are settled before a trial ensues. 

What Is a Personal Injury Trial?

If a case goes to trial, the parties will present their sides in front of a judge or jury. At this point, it will be left to the court to decide who should be held liable for the damages. The trial can last anywhere from a day to months, depending on the facts of the case and certain circumstances. 

While a plaintiff may receive more compensation, choosing to proceed to a trial is stressful and unpredictable. More compensation is never a guaranteed outcome of letting the court decide. Additionally, expenses may add up rapidly if a case goes to trial. 

The Timeline of a Personal Injury Case

While every case is unique, there is a general timeline of events that most cases follow. Many people don't understand this timeline, and they delay reaching out to a personal injury lawyer, which can have a negative impact on their case. This fear of the unknown can cost people a lot of money. Randy Andrus and his team keep clients updated from the first contact point to the last. The general process includes the following steps:

  1. Initial confidential consultation - This is the meeting in which you first bring your case to an attorney. During this consultation, we'll review the facts of your case and identify any legal options that may be available to you. 
  2. Compilation of the evidence into a legal strategy - An attorney will begin to collect the evidence needed to prove your legal claim. With this evidence and the details of your case, he or she will begin to develop a strong legal strategy to get you the legal justice you deserve. 
  3. A demand letter is sent - With a strong legal strategy built, your lawyer will typically send a demand letter to the other party's attorney or insurance company. This letter will present your case in the strongest possible way and include the calculated damages that you wish to be compensated, and relevant documentation (medical bills, property repair expenses, police reports, etc).  
  4. Negotiations commence - Once the letter is sent, the opposing attorney will likely send a response letter, which sometimes includes a counteroffer. From there the attorneys and insurance companies will go back and forth in an effort to reach a settlement. This communication and negotiation process may include meetings, phone calls, emails, letters, and pre-trial hearings. 
  5. A settlement is reached or not - Most of the time, during negotiations, a settlement will be reached. Your injury lawyer will advise you to accept the settlement or go to trial, depending on the specific case and situation. It's vital to have an experienced injury lawyer on your side to advise you in the right direction.  

Why Most Personal Injury Cases Settle Out of Court

There are several reasons most personal injury cases settle out of court. Depending on the goals of your case, reaching a settlement is often the best-case scenario for all involved parties. Here are some top reasons why, typically, a case won't go to trial:

  • Settlements are quicker. After a few weeks or months in negotiations (depending on the specific facts of the case), a compromise is reached. This saves the involved parties from having to go into a potentially lengthy and costly trial.
  • You and your attorney (and the opposing parties) have more control during settlement discussions. Once the case goes to court, it's out of your hands and left up to a judge or jury to decide. 
  • Insurance companies and defendants are more likely to want to settle. Just as it's risky for the plaintiff to go to trial because of its unpredictable and uncertain nature, it's risky for the other side for the same reasons. During settlement conversations, both parties have baseline numbers from which to negotiate. This is not true once the case has gone to trial – a judge could order the defendant to compensate a lot more, or a lot less, than the original settlement. 
  • Defendants may also be more apt to settle out of court because a settlement, typically, does not require the admission of liability. Settlements can also be private, while trials are not. 
  • Trials can be expensive. The fees tend to increase rapidly when a case goes to trial. No one wants to have those calculated into the final damages.  
  • Sometimes, depending on the case, just having a lawyer send a letter is enough to reach a worthy settlement.

Why Some Cases May Go to Trial

Regardless of the multiple reasons to settle before a case goes to trial, sometimes an appropriate and fair amount of compensation cannot be reached. In this case, your lawyer may recommend that you take it to court. Whether or not a case goes to trial may also depend on the plaintiff's goals. Is the case just about getting the compensation you need and deserve, or is it about seeking deeper justice by way of a public trial and potential punitive damages? 

Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

During the personal injury claim process, having a trusted and experienced attorney on your side is highly recommended. Your lawyer will play a crucial role in getting you the compensation you deserve, advising you on all of the many tough decisions that will arise throughout your case. From the calculation of the value of your case, to the decision of whether to settle or go to trial, your personal injury lawyer will be there to help you through it all. 

If you've been injured or wronged and wish to seek legal justice, give Andrus Law Firm a call today. We're ready to fight for you and get you back on the road to financial recovery. Reach us at 801-400-9860 to set up an initial consultation, or fill out this online form

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About the Author

Randy Andrus

BIO   Education University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (LL.M. 1987) Business and Taxation – Transnational Practice Courses and International Bar Association Convention, Salzburg, Austria Southwestern University School of Law (J.D. 1984) Dean's List American Jurisprudence...

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