Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

Glenn Honda | | Personal Injury

Facing the consequences of an accident or injury in Hawaii can be very uncertain, especially when making personal injury claims. Whether you’re dealing with medical bills that seem to pile up endlessly, lost wages due to time away from work, or the emotional toll of recovery, the complexities of personal injury cases can feel overwhelming. This is where the help of an experienced personal injury attorney becomes invaluable.

Most personal injury cases rely on the details—understanding who the at-fault party is, how insurance company negotiations play out, and determining the best strategy for your situation. A personal injury lawyer doesn’t just offer legal representation. They provide solutions for fair compensation and a path toward reclaiming your life. From the initial step to filing a personal injury lawsuit to legal proceedings, a personal injury attorney is crucial in complex cases like personal injury. However, it’s unlikely that any injury case will go to trial. A case is the most likely to go to trial if there is an unresolved, disputed issue that significantly impacts the possible outcomes of the case.

While the thought of a personal injury trial may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that the process can be much more manageable with the right legal support. In this article, we will explore the answer to whether a personal injury case can go to trial, critical aspects of injury cases, and how an experienced personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Can a Personal Injury Go To Trial?

Yes, a personal injury case can go to trial, although it’s relatively uncommon. Most personal injury cases are resolved outside of court, primarily through settlements between the parties involved. This is due to the time, expense, and uncertainty associated with trials. Settlements allow parties to reach an agreement on compensation without needing a trial.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, only about 3% of personal injury cases proceed to trial. The low percentage underscores the preference for settlements in resolving disputes over personal injuries, whether due to accidents, negligence, or other causes. This preference is driven by several factors, including the desire to avoid the unpredictability of jury verdicts, the costs associated with prolonged litigation, and the potential for expedited resolution through settlement.

Settlements allow both plaintiffs and defendants more control over the outcome, often leading to quicker resolutions that can be more satisfactory to both sides. However, going to trial is an important legal right. It may be pursued if the parties cannot agree on a settlement or if the plaintiff believes the trial is the best avenue for seeking justice and fair compensation.

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 in which 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 will 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, for example, the party that violates a traffic law is likely at fault.

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 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

A legal issue may be outcome-determining. This happens when a party asks the court to interpret personal injury law or set a legal precedent, or when a court ruling during trial is necessary.

No Insurance

If the defense doesn’t have insurance, it may be responsible for paying compensation out of its own resources. This could mean it’s more inclined to dispute the case in court.

Multiple Parties At Fault

When there are two or more defendants, a trial can be more likely to determine each party’s respective liability.

Causation Questions

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.

Damages Disputes

There may be several reasons that damages are in dispute. The victim may claim future damages, or damages may be high because of severe injury. Uncertainty about damages can make it harder to agree on an appropriate settlement.

You Decide 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.

Bad Faith

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.

Settling Out of Court vs. Going to Trial 

Settling out of court and going to trial are two different ways to resolve a legal dispute. Each path has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between them can depend on various factors, including the nature of the case, the potential costs, the time involved, and the parties’ preferences for confidentiality or public resolution. Here’s a brief overview of both options:

Settling Out of Court


  • Cost Efficiency: Generally, settling a dispute out of court is less expensive than going to trial. The legal fees, court costs, and other related expenses can add up quickly during a trial.
  • Time Savings: Settlements can often be reached quickly compared to the trial duration and the potential appeals process.
  • Predictability and Control: When parties settle, they negotiate mutually agreeable terms. This predictability can be comforting compared to the uncertainty of a trial outcome.
  • Confidentiality: Settlement negotiations and settlement terms can be kept confidential, unlike trial proceedings and outcomes, which are public.
  • Preservation of Relationships: A more collaborative approach to resolving disputes can help preserve business or personal relationships that the adversarial trial process might further strain.


  • No Formal Legal Precedent: A settlement does not result in a judge’s ruling or jury verdict, so it does not create a legal precedent.
  • Perceived Injustice: Sometimes, parties may feel that settling out of court doesn’t entirely protect their rights or accurately showcase the strengths of their case.

Going to Trial


  • Legal Precedent: A trial can set a legal precedent, which is important for establishing legal principles that affect future cases.
  • Public Record: Trials are public, which can be important for parties seeking to highlight an injustice or make a public statement.
  • Potential for Full Vindication: Going to trial offers the possibility of fully upholding a party’s rights, as decided by a judge or jury, which may be more fulfilling than reaching a settlement.


  • Cost: The costs associated with going to trial can be significant, including attorney fees, court fees, and the expenses of gathering evidence and preparing witnesses.
  • Time: Trials can be lengthy, often taking months or years to conclude, especially if there are appeals.
  • Uncertainty: The outcome of a trial can be unpredictable, and even cases that seem strong initially can result in an unfavorable verdict.
  • Emotional distress: The process can be stressful for the parties involved, with public scrutiny and the emotional toll of a contentious legal battle.

The choice between settling a personal injury out of court or filing a lawsuit and going to trial should be made after carefully considering the case’s specifics, the potential costs and benefits, and the strategic goals of the parties involved. A personal injury attorney can provide crucial advice in this decision, considering the case’s strengths and weaknesses, the legal landscape, and the client’s best interests.

How Can You Avoid Going to Court?

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 they are not personally responsible for paying 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 tiny 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

It’s essential to remember that each case is unique, and the journey toward full and fair compensation often involves navigating a complex claims process. When you file a personal injury claim, the timeline can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of the accident, the extent of your medical expenses, and the nature of the insurance claim involved.

Personal injury lawsuits, particularly those from car accidents or other causes, require meticulous attention to detail to establish who is legally responsible.

Most personal injury cases settle out of court. This means that through negotiation, most parties seek compensation for those who seek medical attention for physical injury, lost wages, and other damages without needing a trial. The goal is always to secure a personal injury settlement covering your needs, from medical expenses to ongoing medical treatment.

If your case is headed for trial, it’s crucial to have an experienced personal injury attorney by your side. The Recovery Law Center specializes in assisting clients from the time the accident happened through the entire claims process. We are committed to guiding you through every step. Schedule a consultation with us to help you understand your rights and options.

Glenn T. Honda

For over 29 years, attorney Glenn Honda has helped people injured in accidents throughout Hawaii get the best outcome for their case, whether it’s maximizing their settlement, or balancing costs and risks vs. putting the whole experience behind them. As the founding attorney of the Recovery Law Center, he is passionate about helping his clients with their physical, emotional and financial recovery. Mr. Honda will fight to get you coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property and other costs related to your accident.

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