When most people think of personal injury cases, visions of court hearings with witnesses, a judge, and a jury come to mind. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. In the vast majority of cases, personal injury claims are settled out of court. This is mainly due to the time and expense involved in court hearings as well as the fact that the defendant typically doesn’t want the public exposure that comes with those scenarios. More often than not, they are willing to settle, and it can save time for the plaintiff to do so.
Nevertheless, it’s important to pursue the course of action that best fits your situation. Here, we’ll go over the costs associated with both court cases and settlement.
Costs of a Trial in Illinois
Trial cases are expensive mainly because they are time consuming. Attorneys need to investigate your claim, review medical records, collect information on the case from the other party, make depositions of witnesses, document communication with the defendant, and so on. This takes time, often several months, and it is only preliminary to the actual court hearings.
Once hearings in court commence, a case can be dragged out for months or years at a time, especially if one party or the other appeals a decision or if the case is particularly complex.
The time it takes to try a case in court means higher attorney fees on top of the court fees in your county. While the end judgment may be higher than you would receive by settling out of court, more of it will be eaten up by those expenses, which means you may be better off with a settlement.
Costs of Settlements
Out-of-court settlements are often faster, simpler, and less expensive overall than trial cases, and you can still be awarded a substantial amount in damages for your injury. Attorney fees are lower because less time is spent on the case, the discovery period is simpler since it doesn’t have to go through as many strict regulations, and you can get the peace of mind you need sooner.
However, there are some downsides to settling. The main drawbacks to a settlement are that the amount you receive may be far less than what a jury would award you and it may not provide as much closure for your ordeal. The party who is responsible for your pain and suffering isn’t made accountable before a jury, and that can leave them free to harm others through negligent acts in the future. Sometimes, a court case is worth the time and expense.
The Element of Risk
One more item to consider when evaluating whether to settle or pursue legal action in court is the element of risk. When you settle, you are very likely to get some sort of compensation for your injury, and if you have a skilled and experienced lawyer, that amount can be highly substantial. In a court hearing, however, there is no guarantee that the jury will view your claim favorably. If they rule against you, you lose—no compensation, no justice for your injury.
Costs and risk must both be evaluated when pursuing damages for your injury. Hart David Carson, LLP, can assist you through that process.