FAQ: How Do I Decide Whether to Sue or Settle?
An accident may leave you with neck, back or head injuries that may never fully heal. While you deal with the pain caused in the aftermath of a wreck or a hard fall, you also have to decide how you will hold the party that caused your injuries financially liable. In some cases, it may be easier to settle than to pursue a lawsuit. How do you decide which path to take?
Is the Other Party Negotiating in Good Faith?
Ideally, a lawsuit will be a last resort that you use as incentive for the other side to offer a fair deal sooner rather than later. In the event that both sides are talking and a fair deal can be reached, it is generally better to settle out of court. For you, the main benefit of settling is that your money gets to you faster. This means that you can pay bills and have money to live on until you get back to work. The main benefit for the other side is that there is generally a confidentiality clause in most settlements, which means there is no need to formally accept responsibility.
Which Path Leads to the Largest Award?
A jury may be willing to give you more after a formal court case than you could get in a settlement. However, this depends on what type of case you bring and whether you did anything to contribute to your injuries. For instance, if you got cancer because a major corporation polluted the water, there is a good chance a jury would award you millions to send a message to that company. However, if you were driving too fast for road conditions when you spun out on a poorly designed highway, it may be best to settle for what you can get.
Does the Person or Entity That Hurt You Have Insurance?
If the driver who hit you with his or her car has insurance, you may be able to get a settlement check from that insurance company in a timely manner. However, if the insurance policy only covers some of the damages in your case, it may be necessary to take legal action. The same is true if the other side either doesn’t have insurance.
Do You Want to Settle Quickly?
A trial could drag on for several months or years. In the meantime, you are faced with paying medical and other bills while also facing the possibility of testifying in your case. If you are called to testify, you could be asked to spend hours answering questions about events that you may not remember. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to settle the case and obtain closure as opposed to dragging it out and dealing with the stress longer than you need to.
What Is Your Attorney Telling You
Your attorney will tell you whether he or she thinks that you should settle or proceed with a lawsuit. While you are under no obligation to take his or her advice, it may be in your best interest to do so. Your lawyer generally has a better understanding of the law as well as experience with cases such as yours. Therefore, he or she may be able to give you good insight into the best way to resolve your matter.
If you have been hurt, you have the option of settling the case through a trial or outside of court. However, you have to determine for yourself which option best helps you get your desired outcome. Before deciding, it may be a good idea to talk to your Los Angeles personal injury attorney who can provide guidance and relevant advice that may help you make this decision.