Auto Accidents: When Should You Settle vs. Go to Court?
Auto accidents tend to result in significant losses, even if involved parties only suffer minor injuries. If another driver is at-fault for the accident, injury victims have the right to pursue financial compensation for damages.
When pursuing compensation for accident damages, victims are likely to be offered a settlement. Individuals often wonder whether it is best to settle or go to court after an auto accident. That is a personal choice that depends on a number of different factors. Car accident attorneys at Chanfrau & Chanfrau consider the details of their Daytona Beach, FL, and Palm Coast, FL, clients’ cases, and help them determine which option is most appropriate in their unique situation.
Accepting a Settlement
A settlement is a sum of money that may be offered to plaintiffs prior to reaching a court date. If a plaintiff accepts the settlement, their case is considered closed. They will no longer have the right to pursue any additional compensation from the defendant for damages stemming from their auto accident.
There are a couple of advantages to accepting a pre-trial settlement. The first is that this is the fastest way to close an auto accident claim. A settlement saves people the time and stress that is often associated with a court case. Settlements also guarantee that accident victims receive financial compensation - and in a timely manner. Since our clients may be accumulating medical bills and other expenses while their claim is negotiated, a fast payment can be beneficial.
A potential downside to a pre-trial settlement is that it often does involve settling. An agreement reached before trial may not be as high as the compensation that would be ordered by the court at the conclusion of a trial.
Going to Court
Taking an auto accident claim all the way to court is time consuming. It can be many months, or even years, before the case is complete. The longer a case drags on, the more stressful and costly it can be for accident victims. Although most attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they are only paid a percentage of a trial settlement, injury victims will continue to incur financial losses while they wait for their case to close.
For all the potential downsides of going to court, there are some benefits. Court ordered settlements tend to be higher than pre-trial settlements, because they fully account for all accident losses. Another benefit of a court case is that trial decisions can be appealed, if necessary.
There are advantages and disadvantages to settlements and court trials. The best that our Daytona Beach clients can do is carefully weigh these considerations to determine which option is right for them:
- How severe are your injuries? Cases with more catastrophic injuries are often best settled in court.
- Can you afford to wait for a trial? If injuries and losses are minor, and expenses are difficult to handle, a settlement may be the best option.
- Is this the first settlement offer? Negotiations can continue leading up to court, if an initial settlement offer is not satisfactory, it is often best to hold out for a better offer, or a court trial.
- Do you share any fault in the accident? Some states do not allow plaintiffs to receive compensation in court if they share any blame in the accident. In these cases, a settlement is appropriate.
The car accident attorneys at Chanfrau & Chanfrau are proud to help accident victims pursue financial compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To find out how we can be of service to you following an accident, reach out to us online, or call our law firm at (386) 258-7313 to schedule a consultation.