Is it better to choose a court settlement or out-of-court settlement? As a personal injury lawyer in Whitby I hear this question from nearly every client I work with, but just as every case is unique the answer to this question is different for every claimant.
More often than not personal injury claimants settle out of court, with out-of-court settlements rates at around 90% in Ontario. But while out-of-court settlements remain extremely high—is it the smart choice?
Why People Choose an Out-of-Court Settlement
Out-of-court settlements generally offer a one-off payment or other form of reward, although it is usually less than the requested compensation. So, why do people choose a lower payment instead of battling in court for a higher personal injury settlement payment? There are a number of reasons:
Trials are Expensive
Going to trial can be prohibitively expensive. The lawyer fees, examinations, expert witnesses, travel time and billable hours may be expensive enough to eat up the difference between the offered out-of-court settlement and the possible court settlement award. Insurance companies know this and often offer slightly more than you would likely receive after paying for your trial. This however must be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending largely on the out-of-court settlement offer and negotiations.
Trials Take their Toll
Going through a trial can take months, but often takes years. The stress overwhelms some people, especially during cross examinations of the claimant. This fact alone is why many people choose an out-of-court settlement.
When people are making a personal injury claim they are often struggling financially due to the loss of work and abilities. This makes waiting for a year (or multiple years) to receive financial compensation an impossible option.
Matters of Public Record
When a case is taken to trial the records become public domain, a deterrent for many who don’t want their private laundry aired for all to see. Out-of-court settlements however often come with privacy-protecting confidentiality agreements.
An out-of-court settlement is a sure thing, even if the amount of negotiable. Trials however, with their judges and juries, are unpredictable and you may or may not receive any compensation.
So—should you elect for a court settlement or out-of-court settlement? This depends entirely on you and your case. Are you physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to go to trial? Is your financial situation stable enough to go to trial? Is the settlement offered sufficient?
When in doubt—call Jane Conte, your expert personal injury lawyer in Whitby, Oshawa and surrounding areas. I will offer a fee-free case assessment that can help determine which option is right for you.