You’ve probably seen advertisements from personal injury lawyers who claim they’ll get you a massive settlement – it’s as easy as calling a lawyer, snapping your fingers, and waiting for a check to arrive. As enticing as that sounds, they don’t tell you two things:
- It may not be in your best interest to settle; and
- You’re always better off if your case is prepared as if it will go to trial.
People often associate personal injury cases with settlements rather than trials because these cases do frequently settle and, frankly, going to trial is hard. It’s much easier to settle than to try a case and obtain a favorable verdict from a jury. Plus, no matter how strong a case may be, trial is always a gamble.
So, it’s no wonder why many personal injury lawyers, and even people who are injured, seek settlements. Settlements can be quicker and easier, but like most things in life, quick and easy isn’t always best. Sometimes it’s not in your best interest to settle, but it’s always in your best interest for your personal injury attorney to work up your case as if it will go to trial.
Insurance adjusters work with personal injury lawyers every day. They know which firms typically seek settlement and which firms prepare each case as if it’ll go to trial. Insurance companies make more fair settlement offers to injured people whose attorneys are looking ahead to the ultimate end game – trial.
NOT ALL CASES CAN BE SETTLED
Your personal injury case may be fairly straightforward and may feature a reasonable insurer on the other side who is willing to pay to make things right. If that’s the case, a settlement may be the way to go.
However, those “simple,” “straightforward” cases can be few and far between. Truth be told, there are many cases that simply can’t be settled. Either the case is too complex and has issues that need to be resolved during the discovery process leading up to trial or the case isn’t complex at all and the other side just won’t budge.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE
Trials certainly involve risk. You can’t guarantee an outcome. Even when your attorneys are confident, we still can’t say for sure what will happen. However, preparing even small injury claims as if they’ll go to trial will almost certainly yield a better result. If the case settles in the meantime, that’s great! If the case doesn’t settle, it’s fine because you and your attorney have kept your eyes on the prize all along.
WHAT DOES PREPARING FOR TRIAL REALLY MEAN?
Hire a personal injury lawyer who willfully works your case rather than just sign you up, order your medical records, and hope the insurance adjuster will make a good offer. “Working up” a personal injury case may involve a vast array of things depending on the nature of your case. It may include interviewing witnesses and obtaining statements, investigating accident scenes and hiring an accident reconstructionist or consulting with medical experts, a life care planner or an economist.
Working up a case as if it will go to trial means peeling back the layers on the surface of your case to reveal everything that happened leading up to and causing your injury through your medical treatment.
Consult an experienced lawyer for an assessment of your case. Communicate with your attorney all along the way. Trust your team to handle your case while you focus on your medical treatment and getting better. Expect your case to go to trial and expect your attorney to work your case as if it will try.
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