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Settlement of Personal Injury Cases: Settlement or Trial?

Settlement of Personal Injury Cases and Statistics
Settlement of Personal Injury Cases

It is true that the majority of personal injury claims settle prior to trial?

Great question. Legal experts tell us that most personal injury cases settle before trial. But what are the real numbers on settlement of personal injury cases and who says?

Only four to five percent of all personal injury cases in the United States go to trial. However, the numbers are totally differnet for those in Australia. All you have to do is check out personal injury lawyers in perth and all is revealed. Approx. 95 to 96 percent of personal injury cases are settled before trial. These numbers come from the authoritative Black’s Law Dictionary, citing U.S. Government statistics.

Another study cited by N.Y. Times claims 80 to 92 percent of cases were settled before trial. Yet another study found that less than three percent of all civil cases reach a trial verdict and less than one percent of all civil cases end with a jury verdict. And the American Bar Association reports that at one point only 1.8 percent of federal civil cases actually went all the way to trial.

So, studies support the statement that the majority of personal injury cases settle somewhere along the way before a day in court. This doesn’t make it a bad idea to hire someone with court experience, such as an aurora car accident lawyer, but it still begs the question: Why do so few cases go to trial?

Settlement of Personal Injury Cases in Negotiations

Cases can settle at any point along the way. Settlement can occur before a lawsuit is filed. The personal injury attorney obtains actual medical records, not just the tear-sheets you get when you go to the hospital or doctor.

The medical records must be placed in the correct evidentiary form to show the insurance company that a claim is trial-ready, and not just a quickie lowball settlement. Experienced attorneys know what data points the insurance company computer evaluation software looks for, and if necessary obtains additional medical documentation, not simply verifying a visit, but addressing the key data points the insurance company punches into the evaluation software.

The attorney and insurance adjuster negotiate. If the insurance company offers a fair settlement, the case settles. Many cases settles at this point. Others, where there is no acceptable offer, go into the suit. The attorney files a civil action in a court with proper jurisdiction.

What happens to Personal Injury Cases in Court?

After filing of a formal Complaint in court, the discovery phase of litigation starts. Court rules allow both the insurance company and the injured person to use discovery tools including interrogatories, depositions and other formal techniques to dig up additional facts and background. I’ve written more detail about the discovery phase and how it affects your case in another blog article.

Once a case is filed the parties on both sides are ethically bound to proceed as though the case will go to trial. Settlement can happen after or even during discovery. But once an insurance company gets so far invested in a case that it has done discovery and depositions, in my experience, they are unlikely to settle unless something happens in discovery to impress them that a big verdict is likely.

Settlement of Personal Injury Cases Versus Trial

So, as litigation attorneys refer to it, at that point, the company is willing to “roll the dice” and try the case. Cases do go to trial. Courthouses across America are open every day, Monday through Friday. But the fact that so many cases settle or otherwise terminate before actual trial led the American Bar Association to name one of its studies on this subject “The Vanishing Trial.”

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Attorney Myers is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers, and New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. The Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers offer a broad range of legal services in personal injury cases in Massachusetts (MA) and New Hampshire (NH) areas.

The information on this web site is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. Laws vary widely from state to state. You should rely only on the advice given to you during a personal consultation by a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice in which your concern lies. This web site must be labeled advertisement in some jurisdictions.