Should I Settle My Personal Injury Case?

Settle my personal injury case out of court concept image.

Whether you were injured in a car crash, truck wreck, slip and fall, or any other type of accident, you might be wondering, “should I settle my personal injury case?” Deciding whether you should settle with the insurance company or go to trial can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case — and the amount of compensation you receive. While every personal injury matter is unique, there are many factors that should be carefully considered when determining whether it is in your best interests to accept a settlement offer.

What Does it Mean to Settle a Personal Injury Case?

If you are faced with the question, “should I settle my personal injury case?” it’s important to understand that there are two ways a lawsuit can be resolved: by settlement or verdict. When a personal injury case is settled, the injured party agrees to a specific sum of money in exchange for not pursuing the claim in court. However, it’s critical to be cautious if you are presented with a settlement offer — it is the insurance company’s job to pay out as little as possible on your claim.

The defendant’s insurance company might make a settlement offer shortly after the accident, but this is typically a lowball offer that will not adequately compensate you for your losses. Although it can be tempting to accept a settlement early on in case to secure a faster payout, this is rarely in an accident victim’s best interests. Unless a settlement is vigorously negotiated by an attorney, you will likely not obtain the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.

Should I Settle My Personal Injury Case or Go to Trial?

If you’re contemplating, “should I settle my personal injury case?” it’s essential to first consider whether your accident-related injuries have fully developed. A case should never be settled until the full extent of the damages are known. It’s best to wait to settle until a doctor has determined that your course of treatment is complete. You should also consider whether the settlement that is being offered is adequate — a personal injury attorney will know how to properly value your injuries and whether the amount of compensation offered by the insurance company is fair.

Some of the benefits that come with settling a personal injury case include the following:

  • Cost-effectiveness and efficiency — Settling a personal injury case can be faster than going to trial, and the expenses associated with the litigation process will not be incurred.
  • Less stress — The litigation process can take an emotional toll on an accident victim. Settling a personal injury case outside of court can be less stressful and reduce the impact on your mental health.
  • Certainty — In the event your personal injury case goes to trial, there is never a guarantee as to how much the jury will award you for your damages, or if the jury will award any compensation at all. Rather, with a settlement, you are guaranteed a specific amount that has been agreed upon in advance.
  • Privacy — A court proceeding becomes part of the public record. By settling a case out of court, the details of the case and your injuries are kept private and confidential.

Although the decision of whether to settle or go to trial is ultimately up to you, it’s vital to discuss the pros and cons with an attorney before signing a release from liability or any settlement paperwork. A personal injury attorney will know how to protect your rights and can best advise you regarding the advantages and disadvantages of settling your case.

When is it Better to Go to Trial?

Sometimes, a better outcome can be achieved in a personal injury case in court. In many instances, the jury will return a verdict that is for a much larger amount than the settlement that was offered. By going to trial, you can potentially recover the full amount of your economic damages, compensation for your pain and suffering — and even punitive damages may be awarded in certain cases. It is not possible to obtain punitive damages if you settle with the insurance company.

One of the most crucial things to understand when it comes to settling a personal injury action is that you will be releasing the negligent party from liability. This means that the defendant does not have to admit fault. However, by pursuing litigation, the at-fault party may be held accountable for their wrongdoing on the record in a public courtroom — this might be important to you if you suffered a serious injury. In contrast with a settlement agreement (which may be confidential), a trial takes place in open court and may help to provide the emotional closure you need to move forward.

Notably, by settling your claim, you are giving up any right you would have to appeal. When a case is tried in court, you may have grounds to appeal a verdict if an error was made during the trial that affected the outcome. You do not have this option when a case is resolved by settlement — an agreed upon settlement is final and typically cannot be reversed or overturned.

Contact an Experienced Alaska Personal Injury Attorney

If you’re questioning, “should I settle my personal injury case,” it’s best to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. The Trial Guy, Attorney Eric Derleth, can skillfully evaluate the specific facts of your case and discuss whether it’s in your best interests to settle your claim or pursue litigation. Proudly serving accident victims in Anchorage, Soldotna, Kenai, Palmer, Wasilla, and other areas of Alaska, The Trial Guy is committed to securing the best possible outcome in every case, whether by settlement or jury verdict. Call 907-262-9164 to schedule a free consultation at our Anchorage or Soldotna office, or contact us online. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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