We live in a litigious society, and the number of lawsuits filed daily is overwhelming. Most of those cases end up being settled out of court. A settlement is a compromise between what is being requested and what might have to be paid in damages. People often agree to a settlement in order to avoid an expensive trial and/or a potential loss in court. Knowing when to settle a lawsuit can be difficult, but the following factors can help you make an informed decision.
The process of bringing a case to trial can be quite stressful. Having to testify in court and then be cross-examined by an opposing attorney can be a fearful endeavor. If your fear and stress levels are high enough, you may be better off trying to settle the case out of court.
A trial involves lawyers, expert witnesses and a lot of expense for time, research and travel. According to attorneys at Braithwaite Boyle Accident Injury Law, some cases take years to prepare and litigate, and of course that adds to your expenses. Most of these expenses can be eliminated if your case is settled before it ever arrives in the courtroom.
Because a jury is unpredictable, it may be in your best interest to settle in order to avoid a negative outcome or the stress of waiting. A settlement is predictable and remains, at least to some degree, within your control.
No Guilty Verdict
In a trial, someone is generally found either “guilty” or “not guilty.” A settlement allows someone to pay for a mistake without any record of guilt or any explicit admission of wrongdoing.
A settlement will keep the details of your case private, something that may be extremely beneficial to you. In a trial, all documents presented become a matter of public record, so if there is anything about the case you would prefer to keep private, an out-of-court settlement is probably best for you.
While there are strict guidelines about what is said and done in the courtroom, a settlement allows for more informal discussion and different legal strategies. You can even request an apology if that is something you feel is important.
When a settlement is concluded, the case is completed forever: no appeals, no retrials and no going back to the bargaining table. The case is over.
For cases that challenge either the law or social policy, a settlement is not a good idea because it will not effect any change. In other cases, you should at least consider a settlement. Your attorney should have your best interest in mind, so take his advice along with your own considerations to determine whether or not to settle.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky Snowball.