Car Accident Injury Claim: Settle or Sue in Court?
Deciding whether to head for court or settle in the aftermath of a car accident can be difficult. In most cases, it is far better to agree to a settlement rather than spend lots of time in court. This is usually the easiest, fast and by far the least expensive option.
The advantages of a settlement are that you’ll get your compensation faster and you’ll spend less time in court or avoid it altogether. This means no dealing with an unpredictable jury and fewer legal fees being taken out of your award.
While these advantages are very real, there are also advantages in some situations that can make court a more desirable option. Suing in court offers benefits that include the possibility for greater compensation, the opportunity to tell your story and have it made public record, and the opportunity to hold the at-fault party accountable for punitive damages when applicable.
How to Decide: Pros vs. Cons
The following are some of the considerations that will influence your decision of whether or not to accept a settlement or move forward with a trial.
Your First Steps
The first thing you’ll want to do after your accident is find legal counsel. The lawyer will tell you about your rights and your options. They will also help you gather evidence, speak to any potential witnesses, get in touch with medical professionals, and make the initial court case.
Once this is done, the lawyer writes a demand letter on your behalf. Click here if you want to learn more about what you should do after a car accident.
A Demand Letter
A demand letter is a legal document. The letter lays out the facts of the case. This is where you’ll be asked to provide a chronological accounting of what happened, why it happened, and how it happened. It’s also where you explain the impact of the accident on your life.
This letter will also ask for compensation. Compensation is designed to do things such as replace your lost income, pay for the cost of damages to your car, and pay any outstanding medical bills.
This letter is sent to the other party’s insurance company. If they’ve hired legal counsel, it will also go to the defendant’s lawyer. After a period of time, usually a week or two, you can expect a response. The insurance company will typically give you a detailed response in writing. This includes any legal issues that might apply to your case. It will also include the amount of compensation they are going to offer.
Getting It Over With
Even a minor car accident can lead to serious injuries. You might have broken bones and other problems that can make it hard to get to work or even do your work at all. A settlement gets you funds faster. It also means you can avoid paying lots of legal fees. There’s no need to get access to medical documents or spend money working with a team of experts over a period of months. You don’t have to worry about keeping track of court dates and taking time off from work that may not be compensated.
The Opportunity to Move Forward
While a settlement offers the chance to move past the accident, the court system allows for the redress of grievances directly. Heading to court means your voice will be heard. It also means you can confront someone who hurt you directly. Your lawyer will spell out what happened and how it has impacted your life. Unlike an insurance company, juries are not bound by company policies, nor are they wishing to preserve a corporation’s profits.
At the same time, the jury may be swayed by factors other than the evidence. Unlike a settlement, there is no guarantee of compensation. You might walk away with less than you anticipated or even with nothing at all. Going to court is far riskier than accepting the money from an insurance company. Careful consideration of all of these factors will help you make the right choice.