Why Personal Injury Cases Don't Always Settle

The vast majority of personal injury cases end up settling before trial. This is usually a good outcome, because the injured party is guaranteed compensation and the cost (both in money and time) of a civil trial is avoided. While in a personal injury trial, a successful (for the plaintiff) verdict can often amount to a larger award than what would have been settled on, there is also the very real risk of losing and getting nothing.

In a small number of cases, a trial may be necessary to get the injured party adequate compensation. But, why do some cases end up going to trial when others don't? Obviously (or maybe not), the parties for each side are valuing the case differently. When the value can't be agreed upon, settlements fail. Here are a few reasons that can occur:

  1. Getting overly personally involved with the case. Some parties take a scorched earth approach. If they're not getting exactly what they want, they're going to risk it all at trial.
  2. Misguided Expectations. Some client's expect much more than what is typically awarded at trial. An insurance company certianly isn't going to settle a claim for more than the "going rate"
  3. An insurance company failing to offer a reasonable settlement. Insurance companies know that most people have no interest in going to trial. It puts their lives and credibility in front of a jury. It can be extremely stressful for people and insurance companies will often offer less than what the claim is actually worth.
  4. Too many people making a decision. some people will listen to relative's about "their friend" that got a good judgment years ago. Obviously, the facts of that case were probably different.

While it's not always a wise idea, sometimes (usually for number three above) going to trial is the best strategy for the injured party.

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