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When Is It Best to Take a Settlement vs. Going to Trial?

Posted in Personal Injury on June 28, 2021

There are two main ways to resolve a personal injury case in Texas: a settlement or a trial. Settlements are more common and generally more popular, as they are faster and cheaper than injury trials. Certain circumstances, however, require injury trials. Both legal options have potential advantages and disadvantages. Determining which is the best for you generally requires discussing the pros and cons of each route with a personal injury attorney in Dallas.

Pros and Cons of Settling Your Personal Injury Case

A settlement is a legally binding agreement made between you (the plaintiff) and the other side of the case (the defendant). Most often, a settlement is made between the plaintiff’s attorney and the defendant’s insurance company. A settlement is an out-of-court agreement that typically happens through one-on-one meetings with the parties involved. These meetings often take the form of mediation or arbitration – meetings before third-party moderators that help facilitate compromises.

The pros of settling an injury claim include:

  • It is faster than going to trial.
  • It costs less in court costs and attorney’s fees.
  • It is generally less stressful than a full-blown trial.
  • You can stay in control of the outcome of your case.
  • You can keep your settlement private.

The number one con of a settlement vs. a personal injury trial is that it typically results in less money given to the plaintiff. As a general rule, personal injury settlements are worth less than judgment awards. In addition, once you reach a settlement, it is permanent. With only a few exceptions, you cannot reopen your case or renegotiate for a different amount. With a personal injury trial, however, you can appeal a jury’s decision.

Pros and Cons of Going to Trial

Going to trial means to state your case before a judge and jury. You and your personal injury lawyer will go to court and give an opening statement, provide evidence and testimony from witnesses, and give a closing statement during your trial. The defendant’s side will also have the chance to state their case. Then, a judge or a panel of 12 jurors will determine whether you met the burden of proof.

The burden of proof is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant more likely than not caused your injury. If you did meet your burden of proof, you will be given a judgment award. If not, the defendant won’t be found liable for your damages. Some of the pros and cons to consider with a personal injury trial are:

  • Pro: the possibility of a greater financial award.
  • Con: more time and money spent on the legal process.
  • Pro: the ability to appeal a lost trial.
  • Con: a trial is part of public record.
  • Pro: a trial can give you a greater sense of justice and closure.
  • Con: you have no control over the outcome of your case.

With a trial, prepare for a longer and more in-depth legal process; a trial can take a year or longer to finish, while the average settlement takes only a few months. However, a trial can come with advantages such as greater financial compensation. You could be eligible for pain and suffering damages with a trial, for instance, as well as punitive damages.

Which Is the Right Choice for You?

There are many pros and cons to consider with both legal options. The best way to choose the option that is best for you is by consulting with a personal injury attorney in Dallas. An attorney can review the benefits and drawbacks of a settlement vs. a trial in relation to your particular case. Then, your attorney will recommend which route is best for you according to the specific facts of your case and your unique goals. With a lawyer by your side, you can rest assured you are making the right choice.