Trial or Settlement? Things to Consider

Imagine that your car was rear-ended by a vehicle that was speeding on the highway. Not only was your car totaled, but you suffered back and neck injuries as a result of the impact. You have missed significant time at work and are dealing with a small fortune of debt in medical bills and property damage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company has offered you a settlement, which is a significant amount of money, but you are not sure how long your injuries will last. Should you take the settlement or push forward with trial in hope for a bigger payout?

If you or someone you know has been hurt in a Nevada car accident, this question will likely come up. Like most things involving the law, the answer is “it depends.” Because the more information you have, the better equipped you will be to make a decision, below we will explain the pros and cons of both options.

Settlement vs Trial

After a lawsuit is filed, there are two options regarding your case — a settlement or a trial. 

When the person or entity being sued (the defendant) agrees to offer the accident victim (the plaintiff) a certain amount of money to drop the lawsuit, this is referred to as a settlement offer. Oftentimes this settlement offer is made through the defendant’s insurance adjuster or legal representative. If a settlement is reached, the plaintiff agrees to dismiss the lawsuit.

If a settlement is not reached, then the lawsuit will proceed to a court trial. During this part of the lawsuit, a judge or jury will hear both sides argue their case and make a determination as to what — if any — monetary compensation should be awarded to the plaintiff. 

Benefits of Each

There are benefits to settling a case before going to trial. There are also benefits to going to trial when a settlement does not happen during negotiation talks. The benefits of settling your personal injury lawsuit out of court include:

  • Certainty of the outcome: When you settle, you know how much money you will receive as opposed to flipping a coin and letting a jury decide;
  • Faster resolution: Lawsuits take much longer than a settlement because you are at the mercy of the court’s calendar, trial preparation is time consuming, and the appeals process can take years;
  • Quicker payout: After a case has resolved through successful negotiations, it can take just a few weeks for an accident victim to receive settlement funds;
  • Minimal stress: Going to court means being examined and cross-examined, waiting on a decision from the jury, and running the risk of losing the case; and
  • Confidentiality: Unlike open court (which is accessible to the public), a settlement agreement is fully confidential so that no one will know the details of the accident.

There are, of course, several advantages of going to trial. While it may take longer and result in more costs prior to resolution, it is the best option for some personal injury cases. Despite most cases not making it to the inside of a courtroom, the benefits of going to trial include:

  • Possible greater award: While this is not a guarantee, it is possible to obtain an even higher monetary compensation award at trial than what is being offered by the defendant during settlement talks;
  • Fault is determined: A settlement does not mean the defendant admits liability, but when a defendant loses at trial liability is clearly established on the court’s records;
  • Publicity: Some injured victims prefer that their case be played out in a public forum to share their story and make an example out of the defendant in hopes that behaviors will change.

Our Attorneys can Help

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, accepting a settlement tends to be the best option for plaintiffs for the reasons stated above. The experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Matt Pfau Law Group have handled cases both in and outside of the courtroom. Contact us today. 

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