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The pluses and minuses of settling out of court

Settling a personal injury or product liability case can happen a number of ways.  Some of those ways involve a trial, a jury and a courtroom while others do not. An out of court settlement basically states that the involved parties wish to avoid a long and costly trial where the outcome is unknown.  Often times, this happens when both parties and their lawyers (occasionally with the help of a mediator) negotiate a settlement that both parties feel is fair. The specific circumstances of each case is different and the preferences of the parties to the case certainly matter.  However, listening to an experienced personal injury attorney can help you make the decision as to whether you want to take a case to trial or you wish to accept an offer of settlement. Many cases are settled out of court in a fair manner because both parties ultimately accept the facts of the case.  However, we’ve come up with a good list of pros and cons for you to consider when you think about whether you should settle your case or take it to court.

Advantages:

  1. Fewer Costs. The cost of a jury trial can multiply quickly.  Between hiring experts, travel costs and display materials the fees add up fast.  This doesn’t include the higher attorney costs incurred as well. You could also miss a great deal of time away from work and be tied up for months or even years before seeing any real payoff in your case.  You could even end up in a worse financial position than you were in before the trial.
  2. Less Stress. The pressure of taking a case to trial isn’t just on the attorney, it’s also experienced by the client.  This stress can take a serious toll on people. An out of court settlement reduces that stress significantly.
  3. Privacy. Taking a case to court involves a great deal of disclosure and if privacy is a concern of yours, know that trial documents in a case that actually goes to trial are a matter of public record.  If there are potentially embarrassing things that you don’t want made public, you can keep a great deal of that out of the public eye by settling the case out of court.
  4. Finality. A lot of people do not realize that the outcome of a trial can be appealed by the losing party. However, when settling out of court, the final outcome usually can’t be appealed. Additionally, if a case does go to appeal, it will certainly drag the case out over a substantially longer time, which will only lead to more time between you getting the money you deserve and significantly higher legal expenses.

Disadvantages:

  1. Fear of Settling. Occasionally, you just can’t get the satisfaction you want out of settling a case.  This can lead to people being unfulfilled with the settlement for reasons that don’t even involve money.
  2. The Unknown. Perhaps one of the biggest negatives of taking a case all the way to a jury trial is the fact that a group of complete strangers will decide the outcome of your case.  You can NEVER predict a jury and anyone who tells you they can is lying and you shouldn’t hire them. With an experienced attorney they can however more easily predict a settlement.  A good PI attorney has experience in settling and trying cases. As the song, “The Gambler” goes, you gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. A good PI attorney knows.
  3. Purpose. Each case has its own unique merits and many lawsuits are filed for very personal reasons. Some cases involve circumstances that deserve to be made public for the good of the country as a whole or the challenging of a unjust law. If a case is settled out of court, the awareness of the issue can often go unnoticed.

At Harmon and Gorove, our attorneys have each client’s best interests in mind and will be transparent with advice given. Our lawyers have many years of experience in both trial cases and out of court settlements and will work with you to not only giving you peace of mind during the process, but will also work valiantly in making sure you achieve the justice that you deserve.