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Do I Have to Go to Court to Get a Settlement?

When most people think of legal issues, they picture the courtrooms of movies and television. For the nearly 180,000 personal injury cases that are filed every year in the U.S., the reality is quite different, as only around 4 to 5 percent will ever go to trial. Chances are if you have a personal injury case in Chicago, you may collect a better settlement staying out of court than trying to file a lawsuit and going to trial.

Why Most Personal Injury Claims Do Not Go To Trial

Usually, in a personal injury case there will be a period of investigation to understand the circumstances of the accident, the people involved, and the medical records. If the injured person is consulting with a lawyer, they will generally be able to decide very quickly whether or not there is a legitimate case. When there is a case, a period of negotiating will take place where the plaintiff seeks their desired settlement award.

There are a number of reasons that either side would want to keep discussions out of court, including:


  • High Risk of Losing – By going to trial, both parties risk losing. However, the plaintiff may have a greater chance of losing, with roughly 90 percent of personal injury trials being lost.
  • Litigation is Expensive – Money is a major consideration of going to trial. Attorney fees and court costs are often prohibitively high to make a trial worth the effort.
  • Compensation is Delayed – Going to court will be a much longer process than the perhaps already lengthy outside-court negotiations. In the meantime, the plaintiff must wait for any settlement money and continue to shoulder the burden of any medical bills and lost wages.
  • Possibility of Appeal – While agreement of a settlement sum outside of court means the case is closed, if it goes to trial even a successful bid could be up for question. There may be the possibility of a drawn out appeals process before everything is officially finished.

When Going to Court is Necessary

There are, of course, circumstances where personal injury cases do go to court. If there are questions about liability and causation in the case, going to trial may be necessary. Another reason going to trial might be the best option is if a reasonable settlement amount cannot be agreed upon outside of court. Of course, going to trial takes careful consideration and it is important to get the advice of an attorney for these. Generally, only cases that are well documented and there is legal precedent for a positive outcome should go to court.

Can I Negotiate My Injury Claim Myself?

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