The majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. While there are many advantages to not going to court, there are some situations where a fair settlement cannot be reached between both parties. If that is the case, it may be necessary to head to court and have a judge or jury decide the case.
In today’s post, NOVA Injury Law will be helping Atlantic Canadians understand when their personal injury claim is likely to go to court and if it is in their best interest to do so.
Why Should I Settle my Personal Injury Claim out of Court?
If you are surprised to hear that approximately 95% of personal injury claims will settle prior to the need for a trial, you are not alone. Many people are under the impression that courts, trials and judges are a part of every legal claim.
This belief is often accompanied by the misguided view that justice can only be served once you “have your day in court,” and out of court settlements are a mere second-best alternative. This could not be further from the truth.
Before considering the factors that make it likely or preferable that your case will go to court, it is important to understand all of the benefits and reasons why people choose to not go to court.
Litigation Is Expensive
Litigation is the process of taking your case through the civil court system, and it can be expensive.
In most personal injury cases, a lawyer’s services are offered on a “contingency fee basis” which means that your lawyers’ fees will be deducted from the final damages award after a favourable verdict. In other words, they don’t get paid until you get paid.
However, even though the cost of a personal injury lawyer is usually contingent on winning, most fee agreements allocate a greater percentage of your award to the lawyer if your case goes to court rather than if it is settled before trial.
Lawyers can be expensive for the other party too. Insurance companies do not have the luxury of a contingency fee agreement, so they will typically be paying their lawyers at an hourly rate. This can become very costly as time goes on. Moreover, both parties will incur additional expenses through the litigation process, such as expert witness fees, court filing fees, travel costs and administrative fees such as photocopying, transcription and delivery fees.
Trials are Time-Consuming
The entire trial process can take years to get through, meaning it may be years before you are actually compensated for your losses.
A trial will often not commence until more than a year after the initial lawsuit is filed. Even after one party wins at trial, the other party can prolong the process further by appealing the outcome.
Negotiating a settlement is typically a much faster process that allows victims to not only receive their compensation more quickly but also provides closure and allows them to move on with their life.
Liability and Damages are Unpredictable at Trial
Trials can be extremely unpredictable. When you go to trial, there is no guarantee that a jury or judge will award you with greater damages than what the other party had offered to settle or that you will be awarded damages at all.
The process can be challenging for everyone involved as both parties will be subject to examination and cross-examination on the witness stand, where they will have their past, character, and reliability questioned and publicly scrutinized. Even minor inconsistencies in witnesses’ testimony could make them appear unreliable.
One of the most unpredictable things at trial will be the amount that a judge or jury decides to award the victim. Even if your case is strong and the other party is clearly liable, there is still uncertainty as to the amount of damages you will be awarded at trial. Settlements carry less risk than a trial and they allow you to have more control over the outcome.
Reasons Why a Case Would go to Court
Although most disputes about accident liability, injuries and other losses can be resolved through informal negotiation and settlement, it is not always the case. While a timely and inexpensive out-of-court settlement is typically the most desirable course of action for all of the parties involved in a personal injury claim, it is not always feasible. Some of the common reasons as to why a case would head to court are listed below:
Disagreements about Liability
In some cases, the other party or insurance company may be unwilling to admit fault for the accident. They may believe that your own actions caused your injuries or that it was another party entirely. In any event, if the party you are bringing a claim against will not accept liability for the accident and injuries, you may be forced to proceed with a trial.
Disagreements about Compensation
Another issue that could cause you to go to trail is when you are unable to reach an agreement on a settlement amount with the other party. If you’ve been injured as the consequence of another’s actions, you should never be forced to accept less than what is fair. If the other party is unwilling to make a reasonable offer or negotiate any further, going to court may be the next step.
Choosing to go to Court
At the end of the day, it is the victim’s decision about how they choose to proceed with their claim. If they are not interested or satisfied with an out-of-court settlement, then it is within their rights to pursue justice through the courts. Nevertheless, it would still be within the law firm or lawyer’s discretion as to whether they continue with the case or choose to drop it.
How can NOVA Injury Help?
Navigating the legal system can be confusing, especially when you or a loved one has been injured. Whether or not you are interested in pursuing a personal injury claim or are just interested in learning more about your legal options, an experienced lawyer at NOVA Injury Law is available to review your case for free and give you an honest opinion about what your claim might be worth.
If you are in need of legal advice or representation for your personal injury claim, want to know if your claim is likely to go to court or want more information on the negotiation and settlement process, we are here to help. Contact NOVA Injury Lawtoday for FREE CASE REVIEW or call 1-800-262-8104.