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How do I decide whether to sue or settle?

If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you are probably wondering if you should fight in court or accept a settlement offer. This decision is yours to make and you should think carefully about the advice of your attorney before making it..

In simple terms, you must decide whether you are willing to risk the amount in the offer for a chance at a higher award from a jury verdict. The problem is that you could lose some or all of the money you could have gotten in a settlement if you fight and lose. This guide breaks the process down and helps you choose a path that makes sense for you and your needs.

Settlement Offer

The amount the defendant offers in a settlement agreement is one of the most critical factors in your decision. You have to determine if you would be happy to accept the settlement and walk away from the legal battle.

Your personal injury attorney can tell you the value of your case and the amount of time and additional expense it will likely take to complete if you go to trial. You can use this information to select a path. Even though you may still have some doubts, receiving this advice will prepare you for your decision and allow you to move forward with the least amount of stress.

Costs of Going to Trial

You must consider the total cost of going to trial when making your choice. You have likely considered your legal fees, but you may have forgotten to factor in the expenses that the attorney will pay to take the case to trial which are often deducted from the amount of the recovery. You must also consider the amount of time the legal battle will make you spend away from work, your family and other obligations. If you or your loved one were involved in a particularly traumatic event, you should also consider the pain and emotions from having to relive the event during testimony at trial. Some people settle because they find that going to trial costs more than what could be gained.

Odds of Winning at Trial

People often fall into two categories when it comes to legal battles; while some think that winning is a sure thing, others believe they have little hope of winning at trial. The answer is often somewhere in the middle, but some have trouble accepting that reality.

No matter how much evidence is on your side, one never knows what a judge or jury will decide after seeing the facts. A legal expert can help you determine the odds of winning but can never make guarantees. You need to be able to consider your odds and your risks and make the decision that is right for you.

The Time it Takes to Receive Funds

Many people believe that the defendant will pay their medical bills directly, but that is not how it works. Insurance companies and corporations do not pay as you incur bills and often will not pay anything toward your injury claim until the entire case is resolved through a settlement or trial. You are responsible for paying your medical bills and other fees as they occur.  

The compensation you later get is intended to make up for what you already had to pay, but not everyone can afford to cover the costs up front. Since litigation can last for months or years, opting for a trial usually delays receipt of any funds. Sometimes you may have more to gain moving forward with your case, but time is an important consideration to keep in mind when you are evaluating your options.

Your Short- and Long-Term Medical Fees

Taking a look at your short-term medical fees is easy because you have likely received a few of your medical bills. However, you might not have considered the long-term cost of your treatment. Your injuries could require you to have a future surgery, receive ongoing medical care, or to routinely fill prescription medication to ease your discomfort. Speak with your doctor to get an estimate of the total cost of the medical bills related to the accident. Going to trial could be your only option if the settlement is not enough to cover your expenses.

Final Thoughts

Although the decision to fight or settle is often hard, keeping these tips on hand will improve your odds of making the right choice. You may risk losing out on more money if you opt to settle and avoid going to trial, but you may risk losing everything if you take your legal battle to trial.

Take your questions and concerns to your personal injury lawyer to get guidance on which you can depend. Even though your lawyer can give you advice on what you should do, only you can decide what path to take. You should always take the path that gives you the highest chance of covering your expenses and moving forward with your life.

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