If you were injured by the negligence of someone else, such as another driver, an employer, or a business, you may have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. While it’s true that this means you’ll need a lawyer, it does not always mean that you will have to go all the way to a trial in order to resolve the case.
In fact, the overwhelming majority—more than 90 percent—of personal injury cases are settled outside the courtroom. Most injured plaintiffs are pleased with this because enduring a stressful court case while dealing with the aftermath of an injury is the last thing they want to do. In this post, the attorneys of Dallas-based Ted B. Lyon & Associates want to explain some of the reasons why so few cases ever get to trial, and who benefits from a system where most cases are never presented to a jury.
Who Proposes a Settlement?
When an injured person (the plaintiff) sues a negligent party (the defendant), typically what really happens is that the defendant’s insurance company steps up to handle the defense. This is called the “duty to defend,” and it’s one of the benefits we all gain when we pay our insurance premiums. There are several exceptions to the rule, but we’re speaking in generalities for the purposes of this discussion.
Insurance companies are motivated by money. The company knows you are injured and that their insured caused all or part of the damage, so the company knows it will likely have to pay you something. The question for the insurance company is how much they can limit the amount they pay you while still providing an amount that satisfies you.
After the personal injury claim is filed, the insurance company reviews all the facts and evidence and its legal team makes a series of decisions and calculations. Typically, they will offer a settlement to the plaintiff.
Why Would the Insurance Company Want to Settle?
Television has conditioned us to think that every legal dispute turns into a dramatic trial. But real life is more complicated. People and insurance companies have to juggle several realities at once, money being one of the big factors. Insurance is a massive, successful industry because the people involved know how to handle money, which means:
- They realize paying litigation costs on top of your damages is not the way to make a profit.
- They know they have to pay you something, and negotiating an amount is much cheaper than fighting about it.
- If a case does go to trial, the insurance has no control over the outcome. That kind of unknown is extremely risky for their financial health.
What Are the Benefits of Settling?
Interestingly, both a plaintiff and defendant can benefit from settling out of court. For plaintiffs, settlements happen faster than trials, which means they can collect compensation sooner, relieving the financial burden associated with the injury. For defendants, settlements are a way to avoid paying court costs while gaining certainty as to their expenses—certainty they would not have if the case were put in the hands of a jury.
When Settlement Isn’t an Option
If you were offered a settlement by an insurance company, never accept it without speaking to a lawyer first. The company may give you a lowball offer that doesn’t adequately compensate for your losses. Occasionally, the insurer will refuse to negotiate a settlement that truly accounts for the damages you suffered. In these cases, your personal injury lawyer will be ready to push the claim further, all the way through trial if necessary.
The Dallas injury attorneys at Ted B. Lyon & Associates are proven negotiators and litigators who have recovered millions of dollars for injured people all over Texas. If you would like to talk about your potential legal claim, please call 877-Ted-Lyon / 877-833-5966 or contact us online.