One of the most common questions we receive at Holzman & Associates, LLC is, “Should I settle or go to court for my personal injury case?” We understand that you want the best possible outcome for your personal injury case, which is why we are going to dig a little deeper into this topic.
What is the personal injury case process?
Personal injury cases can be a bit unnerving. For most people, you probably never pictured yourself being involved in one. Now, you are hiring a personal injury attorney and hoping that you get the compensation you deserve.
Each personal injury case will look different from the next. However, most cases will follow the process we outlined in an earlier blog, What To Expect With The Personal Injury Case Process:
1. Medical Care. First and always foremost, you will seek medical attention for any injuries sustained and will follow through with the recommended treatments.
2. Consultation. Then, you will speak with a personal injury attorney to determine the best course of action.
3. Investigation. Your personal injury attorney will investigate your case and collect the necessary evidence and records.
4a. Demands. Depending on the case, your attorney may recommend starting with a demand for a settlement.
4b. Lawsuit. If your attorney does not believe you received a fair settlement offer, they will file a lawsuit.
An experienced attorney can look at the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and advise you whether you should accept a settlement, or whether you can get more money by filing a lawsuit and going to court. At Holzman & Associates, LLC, we will advise you based on our decades of experience handling personal injury law cases. And if we believe you should file a lawsuit and go to court, we are always ready and able to take that next step.
What is a settlement?
A settlement is a legal resolution to a lawsuit before it goes to court. In a personal injury case, this means your attorney has submitted a demand letter to the defendant, which is typically an insurance company. The demand letter will include how much compensation you are asking for, the reasons why, and evidence supporting your case.
Then, the defendant will offer compensation they believe to be fair for your specific case in the form of a settlement. You and your attorney will review the settlement together to decide if it is worth accepting. If your attorney believes the settlement is unfair and you have a strong enough case to go to court, they will recommend you file a lawsuit.
What is a lawsuit?
A lawsuit means you, as the plaintiff, and your attorney, as your legal representation, have filed your case with the court against the people that hurt you, the defendant. The defendant, who usually has an attorney paid for by an insurance company, will be required to go through a discovery process before any trial begins and answers questions about what they know. Your attorney can help you to ask the right questions. Your case will then be tried in front of a judge or jury, with both sides offering arguments for and against your case. A trial has complicated rules of procedure and requires an experienced trial attorney to put on your best case for you. Once the trial process is complete, the judge or jury will make the final decision.
We must note that not every personal injury attorney is willing or has the necessary experience to file a lawsuit and put on a trial in court. Some attorneys focus on settlements only. And in some cases, settlements will result in a lower compensation value than you deserve. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting personal injury lawsuits in court and are always willing to fight your battle in court if we think it will get you more money.
What are the pros and cons of settling vs. going to court?
Settlements are much quicker than trials, normally lasting between 3-6 months from start to finish. Filing a lawsuit might mean you don’t get to have a trial for 6 months to a year, or more depending on the court. However, going to court is sometimes the best option we think your settlement offer is too low. Settlements can sometimes mean receiving less compensation than you could potentially get if you waited to have a trial. However, trials are uncertain. Anything can happen and there are no guarantees. The benefit of a settlement is not only that it is quicker, but it is permanent and you know the amount of money you will get. You are not leaving it up to a judge or jury to decide.
Despite the length of time a trial may take, if your attorney believes you have a good case, trials can be worthwhile. If you win the trial, you could potentially receive higher compensation than offered in the settlement. Also, most personal injury attorneys only charge fees if they win your case, so there should not be extensive legal bills on your end. And if you win the trial, you will feel a sense of justice and satisfaction for getting the compensation you deserve.
There are no guarantees at trial. No attorney can tell you for sure what will happen if you choose to take your case to court. You could lose, or you could win but get more or less than was offered in the settlement. No case is the same and every decision has certain risks.
Remember, regardless of your case or the attorney you hire, you ultimately have the decision of whether you want to settle or take your case to court. Just make sure you hire an attorney that has experience in court and is ready to take that step with you.
For more than 75 years, Holzman & Associates, LLC has obtained substantial verdicts and settlements for injury victims throughout Maryland. Ask around about us! If you believe you are entitled to compensation, contact us at 410-539-4222 for your free consultation.