In the 33 years I have represented the injured victim, I have noticed many of my clients usually have one common concern, and that concern is trial. Sometimes they are concerned because they fear going to trial. Other times, they desperately want to “have their day in court.”
Recent statistics show, however, that in Ohio only 1.2 percent of civil cases were resolved by going to trial. For anyone unfamiliar with the legal process, this number may be surprising, but the truth is, trial should be the last resort for someone pursuing a personal injury claim.
Here are 5 reasons you should settle your case out of Ohio court:
1. Trials are expensive.
As a personal injury lawyer, my fee is a contingency fee, which means I don’t get anything unless your case is successful. My fee stays the same whether or not a case goes to trial. However, the costs associated with bringing the case, including court costs and expert witness fees, greatly increase when you go to trial. While I do cover these costs up front, they are eventually taken out of your total recovery. Settling your case out of court allows you to avoid increasing these costs.
2. Going to trial is emotionally draining.
Personal injury cases are filed because someone was seriously injured, or in some instances, even killed, as a result of negligence. Medical malpractice, wrongful death, and birth injury lawsuits, at their very essence, are personal, and thus, emotional. Going to trial forces the victim, and/or the victim’s family members to relive the tragic injury. Trials force them to go over the details of what happened, over and over again, sometimes even publicly. Lawsuits are never easy, but out of court settlements alleviate some of the stresses associated with trials.
3. Juries can be unpredictable.
If you settle your case out of court, you have some say about how it is resolved. If you take your case to trial, you are at the mercy of the jury. If you are working with an experienced lawyer, you should be very sure about the merits and estimated value of your case before trial, but no matter how prepared you and your lawyer are, you never know what a jury will decide.
4. The litigation process is very long.
Sometimes even getting to the trial stage of a lawsuit takes years, but even after your case is tried, you are subject to the appeals process. If you settle your case, you create your own timeline, you don’t have to wait on the overcrowded court system. Furthermore, once you reach a resolution out of court, that decision is binding, it cannot be appealed or revisited.
5. Trials can be very public.
Before you go to trial, the details of your case are very private. When you decide on an out of court settlement, legally you can choose to keep case and settlement information confidential. Once a case goes to trial, that option is gone. Your case and the resolution of it become a matter of public record.
Once you’ve decided that you do, in fact, want to settle your case out of court, the next step is to determine how you want to settle your case out of court.
The courts are already busy enough and don’t like to get involved in the settlement process unless they have to, so how the parties decide to settle their case is usually up to the discretion of the parties. The following are different types of out of court settlements:
- Negotiation – Chances are, your adversary wants to avoid trial as much as you do, for the same reasons stated above. The parties can attempt to negotiate among themselves, and may even be able to reach a decision they both think is fair without having to involve anyone else.
- Mediation – If the parties are not able to reach a decision by themselves, they may bring in someone to help them negotiate. A mediator is a neutral third-party, who helps the parties to the lawsuit find common ground, so that a decision can be reached. The mediator does not decide anything for the parties, they just help the parties reach a compromise.
- Arbitration – Similar to mediation, an arbitration requires a third-party. However, unlike a mediator, an arbitrator does decide for the parties, and that decision is binding. Arbitration is similar to a trial, but without the hassle of the court system.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone’s negligence, you have to call me right away at 1 (877) 944-4373. As an experienced Ohio personal injury lawyer, I have learned that if you develop your case properly in the beginning stages, you have a real chance of getting exactly what you want without having to go to trial.
Author: Tim Misny | For 33 years, personal injury lawyer Tim Misny has represented the injured victim in birth injury, medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death cases, serving “Cleveland, Akron/Canton, Columbus & Cincinnati, Ohio.” You can reach Tim by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 (877) 944-4373.