Settlement vs. Trial - A Personal (Injury) Decision

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Settlement vs. Trial - A Personal (Injury) Decision
Written By: Josh Lowell ~ 9/27/2021


Insurance companies do not always like to play fair. Sometimes that means fighting tooth and nail over a case that - to you - seems like a slam dunk. Settling your case, informally or through mediation is a great option, but trial often becomes a necessity. Having a personal injury lawyer by your side can help you understand the costs and benefits of settlement versus trial, so you can make an informed decision.

By the time you are negotiating with an insurance company, you have already been subjected to a motor vehicle collision, often unbearable pain symptoms, restrictions on your life, and tedious doctor appointments. The last thing you want to do is file a lawsuit just so you can recover your fair damages. Insurance companies do not see case value the way we do. They see you as a number that can be tracked and manipulated in their system. So, lawsuits are the unfortunate reality to force insurers to be fairer.
Settlement can come informally. In other words, after filing a lawsuit, the insurance company (typically at the behest of their new attorney) becomes willing to extend a larger settlement offer. We work out the details, resolve the case, and you move on with your life. In many cases, mediation becomes necessary where the parties hire an independent negotiator to help them work out their differences. Whether you settle or proceed with trial is a personal decision, but it usually comes down to two ideas.


Proceeding with trial may often be prohibitively expensive. Some medical experts may charge $1,000 to $1,500 per hour to support your case. By the time trial is complete, you may have costs exceeding $20,000 or $30,000. With depositions and other proceedings increasing costs, as well. It might be worthwhile to accept less money now to forgo the costs you might incur down the road.


Trial is a massive risk. You could hire 100 different juries to look at the same facts, and they would provide you 100 wildly different verdicts. You might have a jury who loves and sympathizes with your story. You might have a jury of skeptics who distrust those who file lawsuits. At the end of the day, when you go to trial, you are risking everything. If the case proceeds well, you might end up winning much more than anticipated. There are cases, however, where injured parties end up losing completely or winning so little that they do not cover their costs.
When you are negotiating your case, cost and risk are the personal decisions you must weigh before resolving or pushing towards trial. If the costs are too high, it might not be worth proceeding. If the risk is too great, then settlement might be your best option. It is often said that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. That applies to pre-trial settlement especially. Turning down a less-than-perfect settlement offer to “stick-it” to the insurance company might feel good but losing at trial will feel much worse.
If you need an attorney to help you analyze the pros and cons, we can help. The experienced litigators at the law office of Magnuson Lowell, P.S. are waiting to help you deal with those pesky insurance adjusters. Call today for a free consultation.

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