Whether You’re Hoping for Your Day in Court or Dreading the Ordeal of a Trial, Here’s What You Need to Know
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The Odds of Taking the Case to Court
Every year, hundreds of thousands of tort lawsuits – suits over harm suffered because of someone else’s behavior – are filed in federal courts. State courts see hundreds or thousands of additional tort lawsuits.
How many actually go to trial? Just 2 percent, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
Based on the statistics alone, your case isn’t likely to go to trial. And it might surprise you to hear this, but that’s a good thing.
The Disadvantages of a Trial
You have the right to take your civil dispute to court. The seventh amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees you the right to a trial by jury. But having your day in court often isn’t what’s best for you or your case.
The Time Cost
Taking a case to trial draws out the already lengthy process of pursuing a lawsuit. For claimants who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of their accidents already – and even for those who just want the closure of putting the whole ordeal behind them – this is a definite drawback.
Then there’s the cost of a trial. There are administrative expenses to pay, like copying fees and the cost of hiring a court reporter. Filing fees alone can add up to thousands upon thousands of dollars. Expert witnesses may charge thousands of additional dollars to testify in court on your behalf.
All of that money comes out of the compensation a jury awards to you – assuming it awards you anything at all.
A trial is a gamble. You could get more than what the defense has offered to settle the case. But if jurors don’t believe your account of the accident, doubt the severity of your injuries and how much they affect your life, or blame you for the accident, they may award you less than you deserve – perhaps even nothing at all.
Jurors enter the courtroom with their own prejudices, and sometimes they make decisions that could affect your future based on those beliefs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether their opinions are right or wrong – they can still keep you from getting the money you deserve.
Why Go to Trial at All?
Of course, there are situations where it’s better to take the case to trial – when the defendants aren’t budging no matter how hard an attorney tries to reach a fair settlement, when they try to hide evidence that could help your argument or hurt theirs. Your attorney should always discuss the risks and the benefits with you when you decide whether to settle your claim or take it to court.
What’s more important than whether or not your case actually goes to trial is whether it’s prepared for trial. Let me explain.
Preparing for Court
Trials aren’t easy to win. Juries today are cynical. For years, they have heard the insurance industry’s propaganda about frivolous personal injury lawsuits. Unfortunately, that makes them suspicious of even the most legitimate claim – yours included.
To succeed in a trial, your case must be thoroughly researched and prepared. Your attorney must have painstakingly investigated the accident and have evidence that the other party is at fault. He or she must have gathered medical records that show the severity of your injuries. At trial, your lawyer must present your case in a way that makes jurors side with you. Otherwise, you could lose the case and walk away with nothing.
Some firms might not worry about building your case this thoroughly until it actually goes to trial. By that point – often years after the accident – tracking down and organizing all of the evidence that supports your claim may be more difficult. The time crunch makes it easier to miss pieces of information that could help you and harder to prepare compelling arguments in your favor.
What We Do Differently
Here at our firm, we begin preparing your case for trial from day one. We conduct a full investigation of your accident from the start and carefully compile every piece of evidence we need to support your claim.
There are two benefits of doing this:
- When the defense sees that we’re already prepared for the courtroom, its lawyers think twice about whether or not they really want to take the case to trial. This preparation can itself help us reach a settlement – and that means you get to avoid the time, cost, and hassle of going to court.
- If your lawsuit does end up going to trial, you won’t have to worry that we’re rushing to build your case at the last minute. We’ve been working on it for months, even years, and we’re prepared for whatever the defense throws at us.
What Alternatives Are There to a Trial?
Even if your attorneys and the defendant’s lawyers aren’t able to easily reach a settlement that’s agreeable to everyone, there are alternatives to a trial that your case may go through. After all, trials can be expensive for defendants, too, so it’s often better for both sides to avoid going to court.
Other ways of resolving your claim include:
- Arbitration, in which a neutral third party, called an arbitrator, decides how the case should be resolved
- Mediation, in which a third party, called a mediator, tries to help the plaintiff’s and defense’s sides reach a resolution or settlement
So, Will Your Case Go to Trial?
The odds aside, some personal injury cases will make it to the courtroom. Without knowing more about your situation, I can’t tell you if a trial is in your future.
What I can tell you is that you want your claim in the hands of an attorney who understands the importance of preparing your case as if for trial from day one as well as the benefits of avoiding an unnecessary trial. This is the kind of lawyer who will do what’s best for you and your claim – not just what’s easiest or what will most impress other attorneys.
When you let us handle your claim, we plan for an eventual trial, but we’ll do everything we can to get you the settlement you deserve sooner. As your advocates, we know how to build your case so that most adjusters will settle out of court rather than face us in one. After more than 25 years of helping people with their personal injury claims, we’ve helped a lot of people. If you’re thinking about filing a personal injury claim, consider hiring Console & Associates P.C.