When you are injured, you may seek compensation. One of the hardest questions to answer will be whether to sue or to take a settlement offer from the other party. Deciding what to do requires answering a few questions.
What is Your Goal?
Before you think about suing or settling, it’s a good idea to have your goals in mind. Not everyone goes into a lawsuit with the same mindset, so it’s hard to have an easy answer at the beginning. What you may need to think about, though, is whether you are looking to get compensation or to make a statement.
In some cases, your only goal might be to get compensated. The incident may have been an accident, but you need to make sure your bills are covered. In such a case, you may wish to look for a reasonable settlement. If you want to make sure the other party has to pay for something they did, though, or if you are looking to make sure precedent is set, you will wish to pursue a suit even if you don’t necessarily think you can win.
What is Your Financial Situation?
Assuming you are willing to take a financial settlement, it may also be a good idea to start thinking about your own financial situation. How long will you be able to hold out without getting any kind of compensation for your injury? If you are able to work or you have savings, you may be able to make it longer than someone who has been completely disabled.
Does this mean that you should always accept a settlement if you are injured? Of course not. It does, however, put you on a stricter timetable than someone who has money to burn. If you are in danger of losing your home or you are unable to pay your medical bills, you might want to consider settling earlier than someone in a more stable position.
What Are Your Chances
You also need to be realistic about your chances to win at trial. This is something that you’ll want to talk to an personal injury lawyer about, as he or she will have a better idea of what juries are likely to do in a case like your own. Even if you feel like the other party is totally responsible for your injury, a jury may not agree.
Choosing between a settlement and a suit can often be a game of balancing probabilities. When you take a settlement, you are guaranteed a payout but often at a much lower rate. If you go to trial, there are no guarantees at all – but the rewards may be much greater. Which direction you choose to go will ultimately be your own, and it requires a great deal of thought before you make a decision. If nothing else, make sure you aren’t backed into a corner by the other party when you have to make this choice.
What Does Your Lawyer Say?
If you are injured, you should be working with an personal injury lawyer. He or she will be a fantastic resource during this process and will work as a sounding board when you are given a settlement offer. He or she will never tell you one way or the other if you should take the offer, but he or she will give an opinion as to whether the offer is reasonable. Lawyers should never pressure you to take an offer, but they will tell you if doing so is in your best interest.
The best part about talking to an attorney is that he or she has a professional duty to help you. That means that you should feel comfortable with the fact that your lawyer isn’t going to force you into a choice that won’t help you. With a lawyer’s help, you’ll get the information you need.
Should you sue or settle? There’s no easy answer. It all depends on your reasons for going to court, your personal situation, and the odds of your suit’s success. If you aren’t sure what to do, talk to your lawyer – he or she will be able to give you advice as to what to do next.
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