Going through the trial process is lengthy, difficult, and costly. It’s no surprise that many lawsuits end up getting settled out of court. Tort cases, like personal injury and negligence, have the highest settlement rates, along with contract cases, employee discrimination, and constitutional tort cases. A study conducted in Pennsylvania revealed that the settlement rate for tort cases was 87.2%.
If you’re considering an out of court settlement, it’s important to understand everything there is to it.
What is an out-of-court settlement?
An out-of-court settlement is when both the parties involved in a case agree to settle the pending lawsuit and halt any further legal action. The parties come together to discuss and reach an agreement where their requirements are fulfilled. It can be considered a compromise in some cases, which is why it’s also known as a compromise agreement. This agreement is a substitute for the claim.
Why are there so many out-of-court settlements?
Going to trial for any civil case is a stressful process. It may take up a lot of time and can be quite expensive too, whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant. Settling a case outside court is a relatively simple process that can be done with the help of a lawyer to ensure the agreement reached is beneficial to the plaintiff.
Settlements tend to take place before a trial, despite the money and effort spent on preparing for it. The money goes toward paying attorneys for their time, investigation costs, court filings, and depositions. A settlement is much cheaper for both sides, while a case fought in court can cost thousands of dollars.
Things to consider before you make a decision to settle:
The stress caused by an ongoing lawsuit
There’s tremendous stress that comes along with getting involved in a lawsuit. The stress and anxiety of facing a judge or jury along with the mounting stress of identifying your odds of winning a case can take a toll on you. An ongoing lawsuit affects all aspects of life. It’s no wonder so many people are willing to settle out of court.
Time away from work
Frequent visits to the court and meetings with lawyers will affect the time you can dedicate to your job. Having to take time off from work may negatively impact motivation and productivity at work.
Cost of the trial
The attorney’s fee can make up a large portion of the costs of a trial. Since the process takes months and may even go on for years, your costs will add up, causing financial hardship. Those involved in a lawsuit already have to take considerable time away from work and, therefore, the increased cost of a trial doesn’t help.
There’s still a lot of stigma attached to lawsuits, whether you’ve filed for one or are the defendant. Many people tend to opt for a quiet out-of-court settlement to avoid any negative connotations associated with trials. A lawsuit can tarnish your reputation. Friends and family might choose to stay away while the legal proceedings are ongoing.
Judge vs. Jury trial
Depending on the case, there could be a judge or a jury that determines the outcome. Jury verdicts are far more difficult to predict since they involve more people. There are more uncertainties in such scenarios; therefore, there are higher chances of jury trials settling out-of-court. Since juries are found to be more empathetic to the defendant in certain situations compared to a judge, plaintiffs in a jury trial often opt for a settlement.
Certainty of outcome
One of the main reasons for settling out of court is the uncertainty of the verdict. When one or both parties aren’t able to determine the possible outcome of the trial, opting for a settlement seems like the best option. This way, you don’t have to risk spending so much money and time on a case if you’re not going to win it. There’s an option to appeal the verdict, but that’s just going to prolong the process, making it more expensive. A settlement, on the other hand, ends all disputes and future litigations since it’s binding on both parties.
How does a settlement work?
A settlement agreement is essentially a contract. According to the law, there are a few aspects that a contract needs to cover to be valid, like a mutual agreement and a consideration. A settlement agreement includes names of the parties, reasons for the contract, the “no admission of liability” section, a promise to pay the other party, invoicing, and a mutual release clause.
If you’re looking for a top personal injury attorney in Little Rock, AR, reach out to Lisa Douglas. Lisa has extensive experience in a number of fields like personal injury, medical malpractice, and accident-related cases. No matter what your legal claim is, Lisa will work around a way to increase your qualifying chances. Get in touch for an initial consultation.
Disclaimer: The information contained within this website is provided for general informational purposes and may not be reflective of the current law in your state/city/jurisdiction. No information contained in this website should be construed as legal advice from Law Offices of Lisa Douglas, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. You should seek the appropriate legal or other professional advice from a lawyer licensed in your state, country, or other licensing jurisdiction.