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Is settling a strong personal injury case out of court best?

Is settling a strong personal injury case out of court better than taking it to trial? While only your own attorney can advise you about your case, there are some specific advantages to hiring an attorney who is willing to take a case to trial, particularly if you have a pretty clear-cut case showing that the other person is at fault for the accident.

Statistics indicate that about 95 percent of injury lawsuits end in pre-trial settlements. If your attorney is more inclined to settle a case than take it into the courtroom, he or she may spend the majority of pre-trial preparation actually building a case designed to entice the insurance company into settling instead of focusing on the potential demands of a trial.

That can get you a faster settlement, but it may not actually be in your best interest. If you have a strong case, statistics indicate that going to trial could be advantageous—a whopping 90 percent of cases that go to trial end up favoring the plaintiff.

Why would an attorney focus on settlement over trial, if trials tend to favor the plaintiff? Simply because of risk: Personal injury cases are usually taken on a contingency-fee basis. That means that unless there's a payout on your claim, your attorney doesn't get paid. Settlement offers surety for your attorney as well as you. Nobody wants to be in that group of 10 percent of that end up losing their case at trial.

It's also potentially cheaper for an attorney to settle a case out of court. If an insurance company can be lured into a settlement, there's no need to pay for expensive expert medical witnesses, accident scene reconstructionists, or vocational experts to testify.

An attorney who keeps his or her eye on the potential trial ahead, however, shows the insurance company that he or she is fairly confident in the strength of your case. Keep in mind that insurance companies face the exact same expenses if they have to go to trial that you do—so knowing that your attorney will move forward to trial if necessary can induce an insurance company to settle for far more than they might otherwise.

Hiring a trial attorney for your car accident case doesn't mean that you will go to trial. Instead, it means that you are willing to go to trial—which can result in more favorable compensation for you.

Source: FindLaw, "Proving Fault in Accidents," accessed Dec. 02, 2016

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