Have you ever been told that settling a claim out of court is “complicated” or “wrong” because it doesn’t get the input of the court? We are here to tell you that you heard incorrectly. The truth is that there are benefits and disadvantages to settling a claim without the need for litigation.
Before deciding for or against a settlement, you should consider:
- Injury severity: When a claimant has catastrophic injuries, the responding insurance company might be less willing to settle because the amount required to take care of the claimant fully could be steep. You might need to rely on a jury’s compassion to be compensated fairly in such a case.
- Associated costs for care: You also need to consider the total costs for your care so far, which does not mean only medical costs. If you have made purchases to improve your comfort, like installing a wheelchair ramp at your home, then they must be a factor in your decision.
- Time taken off work: How much time have you already missed off work due to your injuries? If it already feels like too much and you are falling behind on important projects, then settling could be better because it doesn’t require you to spend multiple days in court.
- Pain and suffering: Do not overlook your own emotional turmoil and hardships caused by the extent of your injuries. Insurance companies would like to ignore them, so work against them by making certain they are part of your decision-making process.
Pros & Cons of Settling a Claim Out of Court
Every case is different, so, depending on your situation, choosing to settle may be the right choice for you. If you hate dealing with court, taking extra time out of your life and job, and giving up your privacy, then settling may be the choice for you. How you decide to handle the case is based on your personal preferences and this list of pros and cons should help you determine whether you want to settle out of court or not.
- Guaranteed settlement money. When you settle outside of court, the party is required to pay the agreed-upon settlement at a required date. There is no waiting and wondering when you will be getting your money.
- Less money spent on the process. Let’s face it, legal expenses can add up quickly. There will be no court fees and other fees for the time spent trying to settle the dispute.
- Less time. You won’t have to take extra time out of your life or from work. You may need to appear in court at unexpected times and have to take more time off work, which could create bigger problems.
- More privacy. Instead of revealing your private business to a room full of strangers, you will be able to set a private meeting to settle your dispute. Even better for your privacy, cases that end with a mediated settlement and never go to court never need to go public at all. Court records are public records, but mediations are entirely confidential. If you have a reason to want to keep the details of your claim on a need-to-know basis, then you should talk to your attorney about trying to settle first.
- Reduced amount of stress and burden. Fighting an insurance company is going to be stressful unless you are a skilled lawyer yourself who knows what it is like to manage a claim in the courtroom. Even if you are confident that your attorney will represent you well, it is likely that you will feel stress each day that your case is pending. Reaching a settlement will wrap up all loose ends sooner than later, letting you relax again and put the entire situation behind you.
- Less money. When you settle, you might not get as much money as you would if a judge were to decide. The settlement amount is almost always less than what you would get in the courtroom if you won.
- No admittance to guilt by either party. There would be no one admitting guilt and there would be no public record of the wrongdoing.
- Give up rights to pursue any further legal action. When you settle, you are giving up any rights to pursue any further legal action towards them.
- Dissatisfaction with the result. Some people do not want to settle their injury claim out of fear that they will always be dissatisfied with the result, even when it is an objectively great one. They find themselves frequently questioning what a judge would have ordered the defendant to pay had the claim gone to litigation and ended in their favor. It is important to remember that the other side of this line of thinking is what would have happened if the case went to court and the defendant won? Talk to your attorney if you are feeling reluctant to settle because you are worried you might not like the result no matter what.
Have More Questions? Consult an Attorney
Settling your claim can ease the legal process overall, and once a settlement is reached, you are promised that amount of money. But do not rush into a settlement just for the sake of avoiding litigation. You should always consult with a trusted personal injury lawyer before making such an important decision.
For further questions, call the Brothers at Law at (757) 330-3425 or fill out the online contact form.
*Note these are generalities about the settlement process and exact circumstances will vary case by case.