Settling vs. Taking your Case to Court: The Pros and Cons of Each

Like any other decision, you have several options to weigh when choosing whether or not to settle your car accident case or take it before the court. Now more than ever people are deciding to settle their cases out of court, and although you may feel that your attorney is taking the easy way out if he advises you to do the same, settling could actually be the most beneficial choice for you and your case. It really depends on how much time, money, and effort you and your legal team are willing to spend on your lawsuit. The following are a few pros and cons of settling your case as well as taking your case to trial.

Settling Out of Court

Pros

  • Reduced Burden – Depending on when you are able to settle your case, you will most likely have less of an obligation to make appearances at various parts of the litigation process, such as the mediations, depositions, and of course, the trial.
  • Collection Certainty – You will also be more certain that you will receive the money you have been promised. Defendants have the option of avoiding their payments from a trial if they declare bankruptcy or hide some of their assets.
  • Faster Settlement – When you settle out of court, you can usually assume that the case will take considerably less time, which means that you will see your money much sooner than if you had taken your case to court. In addition, you will save your family as well as yourself from the stress that can oftentimes ensue from going through a trial.

Cons

  • Less Money – It is very possible that you are settling for a lower amount than you could potentially be awarded by the court. It is up to you to decide whether the risks of going to court are worth the extra money you may receive.
  • No Punitive Damages – More often than not, the amount settled upon out of court doesn’t take into account the punitive damages caused by the car accident such as emotional suffering or a poorer quality of life.
  • Lack of Publicity – If your goal with this case is to see the defendant exposed for their wrongful acts, you may feel that the lack of public attention with a settlement is a disadvantage.

Taking Your Case to Court

Pros

  • More Money – It is very possible that you could get more money if you decide to go to trial.
  • Gives off a Serious Impression – When the defendant sees that you are serious about your case and that you aren’t willing to settle for less than you deserve, they may be willing to give you a larger amount than they would if you settled out of court.
  • Public Attention – Many plaintiffs in these types of cases simply want the public to know about the defendant’s wrongdoing. With the right publicity strategy, a trial can do just that.

Cons

  • Jury Uncertainty – You really never know what kinds of people are going to be placed on the jury. This group of 12 people, as well as the judge, are going to decide your fate, and it is very possible that you could get a much lower amount than you expected if you win your case. Additionally, you could even lose your case and receive nothing at all. The fact is that you don’t know how they are going to react to the presentation of your case.
  • Higher Attorney Fees – The amount of time spent on your case directly correlates to how much your attorney will charge you in fees. Most lawyers will charge a higher fee if they take a case to trial, and those costs will continue to add up the longer it takes to resolve your case in court.
  • Time – Going to trial is a huge time commitment, and you may have to take off of work in order to be there when you need to. This will in turn cause you to earn less money during this time, and could also create a conflict between you and your superiors.

Conclusion
The choice of whether or not to take your case to trial will highly depend on your situation. At the end of the day the decision is ultimately yours, but it is always a good idea to discuss each option thoroughly with your attorney before making up your mind about which route to take.

An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to assist and help you lead your case the right way, whether it be a settlement or a court hearing.

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