When you file a personal injury claim, do you have to go to court?
When you decide to pursue compensation after a personal injury, you may wonder if your case is going to end up in court. Victims don’t choose to get hurt, and they often dread the thought of having to walk into a court and take the witness stand. You may want to know how often a case actually goes to trial.
The good news is that the vast majority of cases settle before trial. Even if your case seems impossible to settle from your perspective, the vast majority of cases find a way to resolve before the trial date arrives. There are a variety of ways that the legal system works to narrow the issues and help the parties arrive on a fair settlement.
Discovery is a process that allows you to prepare your case for trial. You can request reports, records and other documents that may be helpful to you. Experts can offer opinions about your medical prognosis and about the dollar value of your losses.
While it might seem like building your case for trial only makes the case more likely to end up in front of a jury, the opposite is actually true. Building your case thoroughly helps show the other side how much evidence you actually have. It shows the opposing party that you have a strong case that you’re prepared to take to a jury.
When that happens, the other side may come to the table to offer you a reasonable settlement. If the other side also has an attorney, that attorney is likely giving them advice on how New York law applies to the case. Even if they don’t admit it to you, they likely have a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
The result may be that you’re able to use the evidence that you build to reach a meeting of the minds about the value of the case. Your personal injury lawyers have experience negotiating resolutions in personal injury cases. They can use that experience to approach the other side in a tactful way in order to ask for a fair settlement.
Another process that may help you resolve your case is mediation. In mediation, both parties and their attorneys sit down with someone who has training in conflict resolution. This person talks with both parties in an attempt to narrow the issues in the case.
It can be helpful to use this neutral third party as a go between in order to work constructively towards resolving the case. A significant number of cases resolve in mediation, especially in cases where both sides have attorneys to advise them about the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
When is a case likely to go to trial?
There are a few things that make a case more likely to end up in trial. If there are factual disputes about the case, the case might end up in trial. For example, one witness might say that the accident occurred because there was water on the shop floor. Another witness might say that you fell in an area where there was no water. This kind of factual dispute may make it hard for the parties to agree on a settlement amount.
There may also be unique medical issues in your case. Medical experts may disagree about your prognosis, or they might disagree about when you can return to work. Any of these types of significant factual disagreements can make the case more likely to go to trial.
Your attorney can help
Your personal injury attorneys can give you a realistic idea about whether your case is one that’s likely to end up in trial. It’s normal to be nervous about trial, but your attorney advocates on your behalf. Your attorney addresses the judge and the jury, so that you can present your case in the best possible light.