When you’re the victim of a personal injury, you may wonder about the process to get compensated. Do I have to go to court? Will I be grilled on the witness stand?
Maybe you’re looking forward to your day in court. Maybe you’re hoping that day never comes.
Is Your Personal Injury Case Going to Trial?
However, it’s unlikely that any personal injury case will go to trial. A case is the most likely to go to trial if there is an unresolved, disputed issue that has a significant impact on the possible outcomes of the case.
How many personal injury cases go to trial?
According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, only 3% of personal injury cases go to trial. Most cases are resolved through settlement, and many are uncontested.
10 Circumstances That a Personal Injury Claim May Not Settle Out of Court
From the Honolulu injury lawyers at Recovery Law Center, here are ten circumstances that a personal injury claim may not settle out of court:
Evidence is conflicting
A witness may have changed their story. Two witnesses who were both able to observe may say different things. A witness may contradict an expert report.
There are many ways that evidence may conflict. The defense is going to point to the evidence that is favorable to them. It may take a court to weigh the credibility of the evidence.
Negligence isn’t obvious
In some cases, the defense admits they’re at fault. In other cases, it’s obvious based on their actions even if they don’t admit it. In a car accident, the party that violates a traffic law is likely at fault, for example.
But there are some situations where it’s not clear that negligence occurred. The defense may raise an excuse or justification for their actions. It may take going to trial to determine negligence.
There is comparative negligence
Fault may be shared between parties. Remember that being accused of negligence by the defense doesn’t mean that you were negligent. Unless the parties can agree, a trial may be needed to determine what percentage of fault to assign to each party.
Questions of law
There may be a legal issue that is outcome determinative. There may be a legal issue where a party is asking the court to interpret law or develop legal precedent. Legal issues may require a ruling from a court during trial.
If the defense doesn’t have insurance, they may be responsible to pay compensation out of their own resources. That may make them more likely to contest their case in court.
Multiple parties at fault
When there are two or more defendants, it can make a trial more likely to sort out the respective liability of each party.
One of the things that a plaintiff must prove in a personal injury case is that the defendant’s actions or inaction caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If there are questions about intervening factors, the case may be more likely to go to trial.
There may be several reasons that damages are in dispute. The victim may claim future damages, or damages may simply be high because of severe injury. Uncertainty about damages can make it harder to agree on an appropriate settlement.
You want to take your case to trial
Some people want their day in court. As a plaintiff, you have that right. You don’t have to agree to a settlement offer from the defense.
Sadly, insurance companies don’t always do the right thing. They simply refuse to settle cases, hoping that you’ll give up. You may need to take your case to court to enforce your rights.
Pros/cons of having a case go to court
When your case goes to court, someone else decides what you receive in compensation. It’s possible that you get it all – but it’s also possible that you get nothing.
When your case settles, you know exactly what the result is going to be. A case that goes to court is fully in the public record, and that may be a pro or con depending on your perspective.
As your lawyers, we can help you weigh the pros and cons of having your case go to court.
How Can You Avoid Going to Court?
Ways to avoid going to court include:
- Build a strong case, gathering evidence of each element of the case
- Anticipate where the defense may dispute the case and prepare your response
- Having a realistic understanding of the value of your case
- Carefully prepare legal documents and follow legal procedure, so you don’t give the other side any technicalities for their defense
- Use settlement negotiations and alternative dispute resolution effectively
- Determine your goals for litigation
- Be willing to go to court if necessary
It seems counter-intuitive, but thoroughly preparing for court can make your case less likely to go to court. When the other side knows you’re willing to go to trial, they’re more likely to seriously consider a fair settlement to resolve the case.
Why don’t personal injury claims go to court very often?
The court system exists to resolve disputes. Before a case goes to trial, the parties can build their cases and exchange information to narrow the issues in dispute. If a party has insurance to pay compensation, they know that they are not personally responsible to pay a judgment.
Parties can, and are sometimes required to, participate in alternative dispute resolution proceedings to facilitate a settlement. Courts also have the power to dispose of cases in a summary fashion in certain circumstances. The result is that only a small percentage of cases remain in dispute and require going to court.
Our Honolulu Personal Injury Attorneys Can Determine If Your Case Will Go to Trial
At Recovery Law Center, we pursue justice for our injured clients in Hawaii. If that means going to trial, we’re ready. We work to resolve the case in the right way for each client and their personal circumstances.
For your consultation, contact us now.