Many people are unaware that most lawsuits settle out of court, never seeing the inside of a courtroom or the faces of a judge and jury. There are a few reasons why this is the case. Economic efficiency, speed, and risk aversion are all benefits that result from an early pre-trial settlement. Because each case is as unique as the parties involved, some personal injury cases can only be settled by working through the entire litigation process while others can be settled out of court. When it comes to a personal injury case, settling out of court will not only save a victim time and money, but it will also reduce the amount of stress involved, protect his or her privacy, and can allow the paying party to avoid admitting his or her negligence.
It is common practice that the injured party bringing the personal injury lawsuit, also known as the plaintiff, will enter into a contingency fee arrangement with the attorney. This means that the attorney is only paid a fee if the plaintiff wins the case. Conversely, the defendant generally pays an hourly rate for legal services. For the defendant, the earlier in the process the case settles, the lower the legal fees he or she has to pay. A plaintiff, on the other hand, has little to no risk except for reducing costs – and therefore, increasing his or her overall net recovery – if a case does not settle early.
Pre-trial discovery costs can add up quickly for both parties. Often, they include costs such as expert witness fees, deposition costs, and court expenses. If the parties can propose and accept a reasonable settlement instead of proceeding through litigation to resolve their case, all involved parties can usually walk away from the case in a favorable financial position.
During the trial process of a personal injury case, both parties and their witnesses are subject to cross-examination on the stand. During this process, the character’s credibility of anyone on the witness stand is fair game. Before even going to court, the weeks leading up to trial are labor-intensive for all parties involved. Once each side has presented its best case, it is in the jury’s hands. Juries can be unpredictable. Although a plaintiff can be awarded a larger compensation amount through a trial than he or she might receive through a settlement, there is also a real risk that he or she can walk away with a lower amount than he or she sought or even nothing at all.
Generally, a personal injury trial begins more than a year after an initial complaint is filed. Once a judgment is issued, the losing party has the right to appeal the case. This occurs fairly frequently. An appeal further delays the closure of the case. Unless the court order stipulates that the records be sealed, which is a rare occurrence in personal injury cases, the details of the case are public record. In contrast, parties who settle their cases enjoy the following benefits:
Moreover, the guilty party doesn’t have to admit liability in a settlement agreement.
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Rockford personal injury attorney today to learn about your rights under Illinois law. Personal injury cases can be complicated and stressful. The attorneys at Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, Ltd. will protect your interests every step of the way. Call (815) 315-9845 today to schedule your initial free consultation with our firm.
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