Q&A with Craig Milsten: When should I settle a case, and when should I go to trial?
When you’ve sustained an injury due to another party’s negligence, it makes sense to pursue a personal injury claim in order to get the compensation you deserve. However, when does it make sense to go to trial versus settling out of court with the defendant?
KBG lawyer Craig Milsten is no stranger to personal injury trials as he has won one of the largest personal injury verdicts in York County history. He explains below the differences between going to trial and settling out of court, and how to decide which choice might be right for you.
Why would you want to settle?
In short, settlement is always the best outcome for all parties to a dispute. For that to happen, however, all parties have to agree on the terms of the settlement. Most cases will settle, usually before but sometimes after a lawsuit is filed. In fact, 97 percent of civil cases are settled or dismissed without a trial.
The reason most cases settle is because if the case doesn’t settle, there is only one other path the case can travel and that’s through litigation and, ultimately, a trial. There are certain downsides to the litigation and trial path, and they include (a) time; (b) money; and (c) risk. Litigation is not a quick process. Most cases take a year to two years (and sometimes longer) to get to trial. There are many additional expenses in litigation and trial such as court filing fees and expert witness fees. Lastly, there is always risk involved in going to trial. There are good and bad potential outcomes for both sides. It’s for these three reasons that most cases will settle without going to trial.
Settlement, therefore, usually occurs quicker, results in a higher net outcome and a guaranteed result.
Why would you want to go to trial?
Usually cases go to trial because the other side has not given you a reasonable offer to settle and because we think a judge or a jury is likely to award a far better amount. Again, the best-case scenario for all involved is to agree on a reasonable settlement but, unfortunately, sometimes the two sides are far apart in their respective evaluations of the case.
Sometimes cases are predicated on a complex set of facts and the two sides might see those facts differently. Often, the litigation process is useful for both sides to discover and analyze all the details that would be presented to a jury if the case were to be tried. As such, cases sometimes go into litigation but will nonetheless settle before going all the way to trial once both sides have a common understanding of all the facts.
Sometimes, however, the two sides are unable to reach any agreement on reasonable value and in those cases, a judge or a jury will ultimately have to decide.
At KBG Injury Law, our attorneys will always analyze the prospects for settlement carefully and discuss with you the relative benefits of settling versus going to trial and recommend to you the best course of action. If the other side is not being reasonable and if litigation and trial are necessary, we will fight for you every step of the way to ensure that justice is served.
If you have questions about whether you should consider a settlement or pursue going to trial, contact our attorneys at KBG Injury Law. We’ll help you get the Results You Deserve®.