Navigating Truck Accident Settlements vs. Trials: What You Need to Know
Dressie Law Firm helps you understand the key differences between truck accident settlements and trials. Get in touch with us today to learn more.
Should You Settle or Go to Trial?
One of the most important things truck accident victims must decide is whether to accept an out-of-court truck accident settlement or go to trial. Depending on your case, you may be able to receive a fair settlement offer without going to court. Sometimes, however, the at-fault party and their insurance company may determine that your claim is not solid enough and offer you a low settlement amount.
Therefore, one of the most important factors in deciding whether to negotiate or file a lawsuit is the strength of your truck accident claim and the likelihood that a jury or judge will award you the settlement you anticipate. It’s best to involve an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney to assess your case and help you make an informed decision.
In the meantime, this piece will explain everything you need to know about truck accident settlements vs. trials.
How Are Settlements and Trials Different?
At the onset, you must know that both an out-of-court settlement and a trial will consume time, money, and energy. However, going to court is often more demanding.
The Financial Implications: Going through trial means having to pay for legal fees, attorney’s fees, and the cost of litigation. Filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company often involves your lawyer’s fees only. You should note that the court may require the other party to reimburse the lawyer and court costs if you win the case.
Time Commitment: Trials can last for months, even years. The more complicated the case, the more hearings may be required to present evidence and witnesses. On the other hand, out-of-court claims usually wrap up within a few weeks.
Emotional Toll: Court trials may require you to retell what happened, forcing you to live the trauma and the pain again. You won’t be required to do that during settlement negotiations because the insurance company is only interested in how much you are willing to accept.
At this point, you might think that a settlement is hands down the better choice. However, you should know that insurance companies also prefer out-of-court settlements. In fact, only a few personal injury cases proceed to trial. Why? Because it’s often cheaper for insurance companies to settle.
Before you say yes to that settlement check, it’s wise to first compare the settlement process to the trial process.
The Settlement Process
The settlement process can be divided into the following three stages:
Filing your claim: An experienced truck accident attorney can help with investigating and collecting evidence. A truck accident investigation is crucial not only in determining liability and injury but also in obtaining evidence and calculating damages. Once liability and the extent of injury have been determined, the next step is to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Investigating and negotiating: The insurance company will assign an adjuster to investigate your case and calculate your damages. Depending on the investigation results, the adjuster will either accept your offer or make your counteroffer. The following may be taken into consideration when determining a settlement:
Pain and suffering
Loss of future earnings
Loss of quality of life
Finalizing the Settlement: Once you agree on a number, the parties will sign a formal settlement agreement. Settlement agreements constitute a waiver of your right to sue the at-fault party for the same truck accident.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t accept the first offer made to you. You must always negotiate for a higher offer, even if the first offer already meets your expectations. Most insurance companies prefer to settle your case out of court. So, there is always a chance that they will try to meet you halfway.
The Trial Process
If the settlement fails or you choose to sue directly, you can file a truck accident lawsuit at a civil court. You will be named the plaintiff, while the at-fault party will be the defendant. The judge or jury will decide your case on the merits and determine the monetary compensation you receive.
Here’s how a personal injury case often proceeds in court:
Pre-trial preparations: You file a formal complaint against the defendant to initiate the lawsuit. You and the other party will engage in pre-trial proceedings, which may include motions, discovery (exchanging evidence and information), and settlement negotiations.
The trial: Your attorney will present the witnesses who will testify on the facts and circumstances of the case based on their personal knowledge. They may also testify on the due execution and authenticity of your documentary evidence. The defendant’s lawyer will have a chance to cross-examine each witness and present their defense and any counterclaim. At the end of the trial, both sides make closing arguments, summarizing their case and urging the jury to find in their favor.
The verdict: In case of a jury trial, the judge will provide the jury with specific instructions on the law relevant to the case and explain how they should apply it. The jury will deliberate in private to reach a verdict, which, depending on the complexity of the case, can take hours or days. If the case is a bench trial, the judge issues the verdict.
The trial process can take an emotional toll on you and your loved ones. Dressie Law Firm’s compassionate attorneys can assist you in dealing with the stress of a lawsuit.
Making the Right Choice for You
Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of settling and proceeding to trial before making the final decision. Here’s a quick guide for you:
Advantages of Settlement
It takes less time to receive a payout.
Negotiations have less pressure and are less intimidating.
Confidentiality is upheld.
Disadvantages of Settlement
Insurance companies will lowball you.
You will be forced to give up your right to sue the at-fault party.
Advantages of a Trial
You are likely to receive higher compensation.
Disadvantages of a trial
The trial process takes time. The more parties involved, the longer the trial will be.
There is a chance that you will lose your case if the defendant gets a chance to prove his defense.
The outcome is in the hands of the jury, so you have less control.
Trials are open to the public, and your case can become part of the public record.
Whether you choose to settle out of court or file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need the assistance of a seasoned personal injury attorney in Atlanta, GA.
When Is the Best Time to Settle a Case?
The best time to settle a case is when you’ve fully recovered from the injuries you sustained. By this time, you will have a more accurate idea of the extent and consequences of the injuries you sustained and how much money you’ve had to spend to nurse yourself back to health.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can advise you on when to take or reject an offer. You can certainly benefit from their negotiation skills and knowledge of personal injury law.
The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You Decide when to Settle or go to Trial.
Whichever way you choose to go, you need legal help and guidance. If you opt for settlement negotiations, you will need to be fully aware of your rights and the value of your truck accident case to be able to recover fair compensation. If you choose to litigate your case, you will need an experienced truck accident lawyer to represent you and protect your interests.
Moreover, if your case involves more than one liable party, such as the truck driver and the trucking company, either way you go will not be easy.
Our truck accident attorneys at the Dressie Law Firm can provide the legal representation you need for settlement and trial. We are familiar with the legal process and will guide you through it.
Reach out to our truck accident lawyer at Dressie Law Firm today for a no-obligation consultation. We’ve won countless truck accident cases; yours will not be the exception.
The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!