When you think of retaining a lawyer, you might imagine a big courtroom with your legal representative in the midst of a heated argument before a judge and jury. While this scenario is certainly possible, it’s unlikely. In fact, only about 4% to 5% of personal injury cases in the U.S. go to trial. The vast majority reach successful settlements during pretrial negotiations with the insurance company or another defendant. Keep this in mind when wondering whether your lawyer should have trial experience, and then consider these facts:
Yes, the odds of going to trial are slim; however, it is possible that pretrial negotiations won’t work for your claim, and the courts will need to impanel a jury to decide the case. The prospect of a potential trial will have a significant impact on your case and its value, regardless of whether it ever reaches the courtroom. In the event that pretrial hearings cannot resolve your case, your lawyer needs to be able to accept the responsibility of representing you during a personal injury trial. Imagine discovering your case needs to go to trial, only to find your lawyer has zero courtroom experience. This is why most plaintiffs want trial attorneys, not just personal injury lawyers.
You want the upper hand when it comes to negotiating your personal injury claim with an insurance company. Otherwise, the insurance agent or claims analyst can take advantage of you and offer much less than your claim is worth. One of the best ways to protect your best interests is to retain a trial-tested attorney for insurance negotiations. Why? If the insurance company knows your lawyer doesn’t typically go to trial, it can offer less because it assumes settlement is the only option. For maximum compensation, you want your negotiations to reflect the fact that if you cannot settle your case, it will go to trial.
Settlement negotiations can get intense. There is a lot on the line – the amount your lawyer secures you can greatly impact your financial future. A lawyer with trial experience will be thinking of your case in terms of a potential trial. The lawyer will be considering what evidence you need to prove your case, the best methods for presenting this evidence, how to respond to possible defenses, and many other aspects. Even if your claim never goes to trial, you will benefit from the mindset that it could. Trial-tested attorneys excel at juggling many difficult and complex elements of a claim, from beginning to end.
Keep in mind that just any trial experience might not help your particular case. You need to find an attorney with experience successfully handling claims that are similar to yours. For example, if you need to join a class action against a drug manufacturing company, you don’t want to retain a lawyer who has only gone to court representing car accident lawsuits. Look for a track record of winning cases and securing jury verdicts for clients in similar situations to your own. You always want an attorney with experience in your area of injury law.
Despite the benefits that go along with retaining an experienced trial attorney, it certainly isn’t a requirement. Sometimes, a lawyer with no trial experience is one who is exceptional at negotiating during pretrial meetings. This can work in your favor since settling pretrial is cheaper and faster than going to court. In the end, knowledge of how to successfully negotiate a settlement for maximum compensation might be more important than trial experience. The right lawyer for you depends on your specific claim.