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When an injury happens and someone else is at fault, often the best course of action is to file a lawsuit. But just because you've filed it doesn't mean you need to continue until you get a jury verdict.
It's not about giving up on your claim. It's that you can reach a resolution through either a court decision or an out-of-court settlement. There are benefits to both.
In fact, when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, the phrase "don't settle" may actually be selling you short.
"Settling" a lawsuit sounds a lot like "compromising," but you're generally getting more than you're giving up.
A trial is expensive not only because of all the work required for preparation, but also the hours that it takes to go through the process. All that time has to be paid for when it comes time to figure out your lawyer's bill.
The other downside of a hearing is the lack of control. By going through a trial you put the deciding power in someone else's hands. The judge or jury gets to put a price on your injury which can be frustrating if the dollar amount is too low.
A settlement agreement lets you take a more active role in figuring out a solution, and often lets you keep more of the money awarded for your injury.
Not all settlement offers are worth taking, and the process is a negotiation in which both parties can hopefully reach an agreement. Your attorney will help you navigate settlement discussions and advise you on when a deal is worth taking.
Agreements to settle are often more satisfying to injury victims than a court outcome would be. Because of the more active role parties play in settlement negotiations, you're more in control of your fate, which can be a powerful feeling.
In addition, it can take longer and be more difficult to collect on a court's damage award if the other party feels the court's decision was unfair. That's less likely in a settlement, as both parties must agree on the final amount.
When you have a personal injury case, don't dismiss the idea of a settlement. The fact that you're willing to settle doesn't mean you're willing to settle for less.
Do you have more questions about the settlement process? Pose them to our FindLaw Answers Injuries, Accidents, and Torts forum for a quick response from our online community of legal contributors.