Pros and Cons of Settling Your Case Out of Court

Every Georgia personal injury claim is different. Depending on the details of your auto or tractor trailer accident, slip and fall mishap, or other injury-related claim, you have options.

Each potential claim must be evaluated by an experienced injury attorney and you must ultimately decide whether to settle your case or take it to court. A majority of Georgia injury cases settle out of court and do not proceed to trial. This simply means that instead of taking your claim before a judge and jury, both parties come to a resolution outside of court. This usually means one party offers payment to the other in an effort to avoid a full trial. There are both pros and cons to settling your case outside of court, which are outlined below:

Pros:

  • Reduced Burden and Stress: Instead of having to appear in front of strangers and be constantly available for appearances throughout the litigation process, settlements allow for lesser time and stress burdens.
  • Collection Certainty: Defendants have more ability to avoid payments to you if you go through a trial, such as if they declare bankruptcy. Settlements allow for a higher likelihood of collecting your deserved compensation.
  • Less Attorney Expenses: Trials require that expenses for expert witnesses, depositions, travel, and time be paid for out of your compensation. These expenses are lessened dramatically in settlements. Attorneys usually charge a higher fee if a case is taken to trial, compared to settling out of court. These expenses can add up to make the compensation rewarded in a court trial much less than if you had simply settled out of court.
  • Time: Settlements usually take much less time than trials, which can last from one to three years and even longer. Taking time off work to constantly be available for trial is a large commitment and may not make sense for everyone.
  • Privacy: Settlement details can be kept private when a case is settled, unlike court documents that become public record when a case is taken to trial.
  • Predictability: Settlements are much simpler for experienced lawyers to predict than jury decisions. It's hard to know what kinds of people will be placed on the jury, which ultimately decides your fate in court trials.
  • Finality: Settlements cannot be appealed, unlike judge or jury decisions, which can be appealed by the losing party.
  • No Admittance to Wrongdoing: Settlements allow for one party to pay for their mistake without admitting misconduct. In a trial, "guilty" and "not guilty" verdicts are common, which leaves a record of guilt.

Cons:

  • Less Money: Settlements potentially compensate the injured parties less than court trials. Weighing the risks of going to court and the extra money involved is difficult.
  • No Punitive Damages: Oftentimes settlement amounts do not take punitive damages, such as emotional suffering, into account.

Many times our clients feel that settling is just an attorney's way of taking the "easy way out", but if your personal injury attorney advises you that this is the best way to proceed with your claim, it is in your best interest. Settling is often the best choice for Georgia personal injury clients, depending on the details of your case. A variety of factors go into determining this decision, including time, money, and effort that will be required compared to the overall expected outcome of your claim. With over 40 years combined experience representing injured clients throughout Georgia, we understand the pros and cons associated with settling your case and taking it to court. If you have a potential injury claim, don't hesitate to contact us for a free evaluation of your case at (770) 427-5498 or through our online contact form.