Settle Your Personal Injury Claim or Go to Trial?

You feel like you have an open and shut Virginia personal injury claim where you or your family member has been seriously injured by a negligent driver. The negligence is clear; the injuries are undisputed. A settlement offer is made, but you think the case is worth more money. You and your lawyer decide to take the case to trial because you can get more money at trial, right?

Not necessarily. According to a recent study which examined the results of over 2,000 cases that went to trial from 2002 to 2005, researchers found that the injured parties (and their lawyers) were WRONG 61% of the time they decided to go to trial rather than take the sure thing in settlement. These plaintiffs netted less money from their trials than they had turned down in settlement negotiations, after taking into account the expenses of trial. On average, plaintiffs lost about $43,000 when they erred by going to trail. Interestingly, defendants made the wrong decision to try their cases 21% of the time, but the average cost of their “mistake” was much higher — nearly $1.1 million.

What does all this mean? Some cases will have to be tried because the offer is zero or simply not a fair one. But, be wary of the attorney who tells you that you have a “slam dunk” case or who promises you a pile of money after you have just told him what happened Law schools don’t hand out crystal balls with their law degrees, and no lawyer can predict how every case will end. Go with experience, go with a lawyer who has tried cases, is not afraid to try cases and knows the positives and the negatives of putting your case in the hands of a jury.

To see a sample of Pierce & Thornton’s recent successes in settlements and trials, click here.

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