An Insurance Settlement or a Jury Trial – Which Is Better?

An Insurance Settlement or a Jury Trial – Which Is Better?When you’re a victim of any type of accident, it can be hard to think long-term. You just don’t want to be in any more pain. You worry about who will pay for your medical bills. You think – how will you earn a living? How are my injuries affecting my family? Will I ever get better? Who will pay for the damage to my car? What’s the best way to hold the people responsible accountable?

Insurance companies make numerous calculations when deciding how much to offer. A critical calculation is knowing whether a lawyer is ready to try your case before a jury – instead of looking for a quick settlement. Insurance companies often look to settle claims with our firm because they know that they’ll likely have to pay much more if the jury understands just how irresponsible their client was, and just how much pain you’re in. We work methodically to ensure the jury has that complete understanding.

Why should clients consider settling their accident claims?

First, let’s understand what a settlement is. A settlement means that you waive all your rights to hold the defendant liable in return for a cash payment. The cash payment can be a lump sum payment. The settlement can also be a structured settlement where the funds are held back so they can be used to pay the medical bills as they become due. Structured settlements are often used for minors.

The advantages of a settlement for any type of accident are:

  • When you settle your claim, you know exactly how much you’ll be paid. With a jury trial, there’s uncertainty. Different juries can award different amounts even if they all agree the defendant is liable. In some cases, juries may decide the defendant is not liable.
  • A settlement normally occurs, as we mentioned, after the discovery phase of your case is complete. If the case doesn’t settle, then you have to wait for your case to heard to be heard by a jury. That delay is often months or longer.
  • Jury trials in Missouri are usually open to the public. Settlements are generally between you, the defendant, and the insurance company.
  • More comfortable. With a jury trial, you need to discuss your case in front of a judge, the jurors, and the defense lawyers. The defense lawyers will try to attack your credibility. With a settlement, your lawyer does the talking for you.
  • Legal fees. Before our representation of you starts, we’ll enter into a contingency fee agreement. Many contingency fee agreements provide that the legal fees are less if the case settles.
  • Witness fees. If you settle your case, you normally pay smaller witness fees. For example, doctors normally charge to prepare a medical report. If your case is tried before a jury, the doctor can charge an additional fee to testify in court.

A key factor in settlement discussions is the amount of insurance coverage. Generally, if the insurance company offers the policy limits, there’s little advantage to trying your case. If you have UM/UIM insurance, we may also seek a settlement with your own vehicle insurance company.

We generally only consider a settlement when it’s clear what your injuries are and what treatment you will need. We also want to know how much pain you’re in and how your injuries will affect your ability to enjoy life and earn a living. We begin settlement discussions only after we’ve investigated your case, spoken with your doctors, and questioned everyone who has knowledge about your accident.

We only consider settlement discussions with the insurance adjusters when we know what the policy coverage is – how much insurance coverage there is to pay your damages.

Why should clients consider trying their case before a jury?

A jury trial is your opportunity to have people in your community decide the merits of your claim. We help prepare you for the jury trial. We’ll explain how the process works. We’ll review the questions that we’ll ask and the questions the defense lawyer will likely ask. We meticulously explain to the jury how the vehicle, property, or another type of accident happened. We explain to the jury what injuries you have as a result of the accident and all the ways the injuries are making your life difficult/miserable. The trial judge acts as a neutral referee.

Some of the many reasons a client may consider a jury trial instead of a settlement are:

  • Juries who are sympathetic to your claim often award more damages, especially for the pain and suffering part of your case, than insurance adjusters.
  • Many jurors may have similar injuries so they understand what you’re going through.
  • A jury verdict is public. This means the defendant who slammed into your car while distracted or a property owner who failed to clean the snow is publicly held responsible for your injuries. A public award helps to impress on the defendant that they need to take safety much more seriously.

Another advantage of a jury trial is that you get to tell your story. For some St. Louis accident victims, telling their account of the accident and the difficulties they’re having can be therapeutic.

At The Hayden Law Firm, Amanda L. Hayden has an impressive record of settlements and verdicts. Her main rule is to always prepare your case for trial. Our St. Louis injury attorney advocates for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders. We represent those injured in a slip and fall accident, suffering from a physical or sexual assault, hurt at a construction site, or harmed in any accident. Our lawyers represent victims who suffer brain injuries, burns, spinal cord damage, broken bones, an amputation, dog bites, or other catastrophic or serious injuries.

At The Hayden Law Firm, we understand how scary the litigation process is. We answer all your questions. We guide you through each step of the claims process so you’re on sure footing. To make an appointment with a seasoned St. Louis accident attorney, call us at 314-668-3100 or fill out our contact form. We are located in St. Louis, Missouri, but our firm proudly serves clients throughout Missouri and Illinois.