That will depend upon the value of your case and your personal goals. Most claims settle out of court, but that doesn’t always mean that settling is the better option 100% of the time.
Whatever route you ultimately end up choosing, one thing is certain: accepting the first offer may not be in your best interest. A personal injury attorney may encourage you to reject the initial offer and keep negotiating. That way, the insurance company will increase what they’re offering because they want to avoid a lawsuit; however, if they refuse to budge on paying what is owed, taking the case to trial may be necessary.
Learn more about the pros and cons of settling your claim below:
Pros of Settling Your Claim Out of Court
- Guaranteed settlement – By settling with the insurance company out of court, you are guaranteed to receive some sort of compensation for your injuries. If you take the case to court, however, there is a chance the judge will rule in the defendant’s favor and you won’t be compensated for your damages at all.
- Reduced Stress – Accepting a settlement means less time and effort dealing with the case as well as relieving the burden of having to appear in court. This often translates to less stress overall. Furthermore, you can rest easy knowing you will at least receive some sort of compensation without having to put forth too much effort.
- Time – The average out-of-court settlement takes three to six months from start to finish. This is less than half the time the average trial takes, which often lasts months, if not years. This is because when going to trial, both parties are convinced that they are in the right, which means that there is a lot of back and forth, appearances in court, and doing whatever it takes to convince a jury.
- Privacy – Settling out of court means that the details of your case are also kept out of the public eye. For example, a court case is made public knowledge and it could feel invasive for strangers to know the details of your injury and how much you are seeking for your injuries. Some people may want to keep those matters private.
- More control – A trial means you are handing over control to the jury to decide who is right. With settling things outside of the courtroom, you and your lawyer have the power to accept or refuse a settlement offer, negotiate for a better value, and overall remain in control over the outcome of settlement negotiations.
- Less Money – Settling your case may guarantee compensation but insurance companies purposely offer low settlement amounts in the hopes that you will accept it and move on—but this amount is often not as much as you’re rightfully owed. Taking a case to the court means a jury of your peers might side with you against the big insurance company and you can receive an amount that is larger than the original offer.
- No Punitive Damages – Depending on the case, settlement amounts may not take into consideration certain punitive damages, such as emotional suffering. This could definitely be a deciding factor as to whether or not to go to court, especially if you and your family suffered severe emotional damages as a result of the accident
- Voice is not heard – Sometimes your injuries or property damage are so severe that it warrants a trial case so that the negligent party can be brought to justice. In an out-of-court settlement, they never have to admit fault.
- Cannot pursue further action – Once you accept a settlement, you may not be legally eligible to pursue any further action. You cannot renegotiate a better deal later, even if your injuries worsen. You can appeal a lost trial, however.