Definitive Guide To Injury Claims:
When you need to file an injury claim, you may have a lot of questions about the claim process and what to expect. Is it better to settle or go to court? Do insurance companies want to settle out of court? How can you maximize the compensation you can recover for your injuries?
Take a look at some of the most common questions our personal injury lawyers get asked by injury victims often have about the process of going to court or receiving a settlement offer and how you can best navigate those challenging decisions.
Do insurance companies want to settle out of court?
In most injury cases, insurance companies prefer to settle out of court for several reasons.
Going to court can increase the insurance company’s legal costs.
Taking a case to court can substantially increase the overall legal fees associated with a case, often without significantly decreasing the compensation, the insurance company has to pay out. In the long run, insurance companies may find it easier and more cost-effective to agree to a settlement that does not necessarily fit the company’s needs than to take a claim to court.
Sometimes, taking a claim to court can mean bad publicity.
Settling a claim out of court often takes place relatively quietly, without much publicity either way. Even in the case of serious injuries, unless the accident became a high-profile concern, settling out of court can decrease the advertising associated with the case. Also, refusing to accept liability for an accident caused by the company can make the company look bad, so the company represented by the insurance company may prove motivated to settle out of court.
Insurance companies may find it practical to take a claim to court.
However, despite the risk of increased costs and potential bad publicity, insurance companies may not want to settle out of court in some cases.
They may prove more likely to push a case to court in the case of:
- Cases of disputed liability. The insurance company may want the court to rule on who bears the majority responsibility for a specific percentage of the accident since the balance of liability may substantially affect how much the insurance company ultimately pays out for the accident.
- Cases in which the victim asks for substantial financial compensation for an accident. The more compensation you have to ask for, the harder it may prove to settle your claim out of court since the insurance company may fight harder to minimize the amount it has to pay.
- Cases in which the insurance company disputes the extent of your injuries. In some cases, you may end up in court because the insurance company wants the court to determine the severity of your injuries and how much liability the company bears for paying out compensation for those injuries and your medical care.
Having a lawyer on your side can prove incredibly beneficial if you do have to go to court. A lawyer can help present your case to the court, making it easier for you to establish the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Is it better to settle out of court or go to court to settle your claim?
When it comes down to whether it is better to settle or go to court, it may depend on the specifics of your case.
The Benefits of Settling out of Court
Several benefits may come along with settling out of court, when possible.
You will often receive the funds you need from your claim faster when you can settle out of court.
Going to court can extend the time needed to reach a reasonable settlement regarding your claim. Often, you will have bills to take care of that need immediate attention. You may not have time to wait for a slow settlement process, especially in cases where you have serious injuries that prevent you from working and make it difficult to deal with your ongoing bills and expenses.
If you need to go to court over your claim, you may have to:
- Set a mediation date and go through mediation
- Wait for a court date
- Present your case in court
In many cases, especially if the court system has suffered delays, you may wait longer than anticipated to go to court over your claim. As a result, you may have a harder time managing your expenses related to the accident. While a lawyer can issue a letter of protection indicating your intent to take care of your medical bills once you have received the funds from your claim, you may experience delays in treatment or other challenges. These challenges could interfere with your healing if you have to wait for a court date.
You cannot always predict how a trial will go.
In many cases, a trial will go your way: the insurance company will have to pay out the compensation you deserve for your injuries, and you will end up with the compensation you need.
However, a trial can go either way. In some cases, the insurance company may convince the court that you do not deserve the full compensation you have asked for as part of your claim. Sometimes, you may receive less compensation for your injuries by going to court. In most cases, the court will issue the final decision about your injury claim, so once you have received the verdict, you may not have the chance to go back and seek additional compensation.
A courtroom trial can substantially increase the stress involved with a claim.
Many accident victims find going to court incredibly stressful. They may dread having to speak publicly about the accident or feel the liable party’s insurance company puts a great deal of pressure on them, including accusing them of faking their injuries or extending their time off work more than necessary.
Dealing with that stress can complicate your recovery or lead to challenges as you deal with the injuries you may have sustained because of the accident. In many cases, settling out of court can decrease your stress levels and make a claim easier to handle.
Going to court may, in some cases, feel like a violation of your privacy.
Some people do not like going to court because they know they will have to put many of the issues they have dealt with on display. You may want to avoid that experience, especially regarding your injuries. When you pursue an out-of-court settlement, on the other hand, you can keep the details of your claim more private.
When You May Prefer to Go to Court
In some cases, you may prefer to handle your claim in court. Going to court can benefit your claim and may help you achieve your goals as part of the claim. Always talk to an attorney about your goals, including how much compensation you should expect from your claim and whether going to court offers the best chance of achieving the financial resolution you deserve as part of an injury claim.
You have struggled to get the insurance company to accept liability for the accident.
In some cases, it may be challenging to establish the balance of liability in an accident claim. You may find it difficult to convince the insurance company to accept fair liability for your injuries, or you may have a hard time in cases where multiple parties share liability for the accident.
Your attorney may advise going to court when it is challenging to get the insurance company to accept reasonable liability for the accident and your injuries. In some cases, you may end up in court because cases in which multiple parties share liability for the accident may want a court verdict related to the percentage liability each party bears.
The insurance company insists you do not deserve the compensation you claim for the accident.
As part of putting together your accident claim, your lawyer will look at:
- The insurance policy covers the liable party and how much compensation it offers for accident claims like yours.
- The extent of your injuries and the compensation you likely deserve.
- The financial losses you have sustained because of the accident.
Then, your lawyer will submit that information to the insurance company, and the insurance company will use that information to put together the compensation package it will offer. In some cases, however, the insurance company might refuse to consider the full extent of your losses when offering compensation. If the insurance company keeps making low offers, you may decide to go to court to get the compensation you actually deserve.
You want your claim to receive more attention and visibility.
In some cases, you may want to share information about your claim more publicly due to your desire to raise awareness about what happened.
Suppose, for example, that you suffered severe injuries due to a property owner's negligence. During your lawyer's investigation, you might discover that many others have suffered similar injuries on that property, but the property owner has done nothing to fix the problem. You might go to court to raise more overall awareness about the issue.
Likewise, if you suffer injuries due to a defective product, and that product remains on the market, you may want to take your claim to court to raise more awareness about the dangers and, in some cases, encourage the company to stop producing that product.
Will you get more compensation by going to court or settling out of court?
For some people, determining whether to go to court or settle out of court may ultimately depend on the compensation they can recover for their injuries. You need to recover as much compensation for your injuries as possible.
That compensation goes to settling your medical bills and providing compensation for the wages you may have lost due to your time out of work. Without those funds, you may struggle to pay your bills and manage other financial challenges you may face during your recovery.
Can you get more compensation by going to court or by settling out of court? It may depend. Sometimes, you may find it more cost-effective to settle out of court since going to court to settle your claim may lead to higher overall expenses. In other cases, however, you may need to go to court to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Talk to a lawyer about the challenges you faced and the compensation you might acquire. Your lawyer will let you know if you have a good chance of acquiring additional compensation by going to court.
In addition, keep in mind the other goals you may have related to your injury claim. For example, if you need the money from your claim as soon as possible, it may make more sense to settle out of court.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Claim
If you suffered injuries due to the negligence of another party, consulting a lawyer can give you a better idea of what compensation to expect and whether you will benefit more from settling out of court or going to court to handle your claim. Talk to a personal injury attorney about the anticipated progression of your claim, including what you can expect to come next.