Can the Court Force You to Settle Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When we see movies or television dramas, we see plaintiffs battling their case out in the courtroom. Attorneys talk about tough trials they’ve lost an impressive trials they’ve won. But in the real world, very few cases go to trial. Some personal injury attorneys in Houston actually make it several years before they actually have to go to trial. This is because more than 95% of all personal injury cases settle long before they go to trial.
Nobody wants to go to trial. Trials are expensive and time-consuming. Plus there’s always the risk that you’ll lose if you go to court. When there’s a chance that you’ll receive nothing, it’s a good idea to try to negotiate a fair settlement.
Personal injury lawyers in Houston work hard to settle their cases. They know it’s better for you. It’s also better for them. They don’t want to work on a case for a year and then lose. If this happens, they walk away with nothing just like their client.
The courts also encourage you to settle your case. Judges hate to have their dockets clogged with personal injury cases. They can drag on for months and months. Some take more than a year to get resolved.
What are the Benefits of Settling Your Case?
When your attorney first files your personal injury suit, they know there’s a good chance you’ll settle. Settlements are faster and cheaper than going to trial. They’re encouraged by the court.
Your complaint is going to demand that you receive certain compensation. Most injury lawyers in Texas purposely demand more than they think they’d get if the case goes to trial. This gives them some wiggle room when it comes time to negotiate your settlement.
For example, let’s say you have suffered a slip and fall. You sustained a broken ankle and a neck injury. You didn’t need surgery or physical therapy. However, you were out of work for about six weeks. You also accrued a lot of medical bills in the process.
Your complaint may demand the following:
- $100,000 in medical bills (this includes actual medical bills and future medical bills)
- $20,000 in lost wages
- $5,000 mental anguish
- $250,000 in pain and suffering
Let’s say your actual medical bills were only $35,000. And your attorney is pretty sure you won’t need future medical treatment but can’t rule it out entirely.
Your lost wages were about $20,000. But, as for pain and suffering, your lawyer knows you never would’ve gotten $250,000 if a jury decided your case.
When it comes time to settle, your attorney knows you’ll get less than your full demand.
What are the Downsides to Settling?
There are times when it’s best to take your chances at trial rather than settle. Usually, this happens when the defendant’s attorney either wants you to dismiss your case or offers a low-ball settlement.
If the defendant is playing hardball, you may be forced to settle for less than your case is worth. Or, the opposite happens and the defendant is willing to settle right out the gate. This can be good and bad.
In the first month or so following your accident, you’ll only have a general idea of how bad your injuries are. Let’s say you settle after just a few months. At the time, your medical bills are only $20,000. You agree to settle for $100,000. This covers your attorneys’ fees, your medical bills, and lost wages. When all is said and done, you walk away with $15,000.
Let’s say 4 months later, you find out your injuries were worse than you originally thought. You’re told you need back surgery. Your insurance company won’t cover it because they believe it’s related to your accident. They don’t feel they should have to pay for this case.
The back surgery is going to cost you $175,000. Had you known this when you settled your case, you wouldn’t have settled for anywhere near $100,000.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston to Discuss Your Case
If you suffer any sort of personal injury, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in Houston, Texas. Your lawyer can review your case and let you know what it may be worth. He can also explain the chances of your case settling.
Call today and schedule your initial consultation. It’s absolutely free and you pay nothing until you settle your case.