It’s incredibly unfortunate to become injured because of another person’s negligence or intentional acts. The good news is that most personal injury cases settle out of court. Most cases settle before filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary.
The facts and circumstances of your personal injury case determine if you will go through a personal injury trial. Below we discuss some common reasons personal injury cases go to trial.
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Liability for the Injuries Is in Dispute
As the injured party in a personal injury case, you have the burden of proving that the other party is liable for your damages. Proving liability means proving the other party’s conduct caused your injuries. Liability is the legal responsibility to compensate a person for damages.
If the insurance company for the other party does not believe that you can prove the legal elements to establish liability, it might refuse to reach a settlement. Most personal injury claims are based on negligence.
To win your injury claim, you must prove the legal elements of negligence:
- Duty of care – The defendant owed you a duty of care because of a moral or legal oblation
- Breach of duty – The defendant’s conduct failed to meet the reasonable person standard
- Causation – The defendant’s breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
- Damages – The defendant’s breach of duty resulted in damages
The defendant’s insurance company may deny an injury claim for several reasons. For example, it may deny an auto accident claim because it believes you caused the head-on collision by running a red light. The insurance company might deny a slip and fall accident claim because it alleges there is no basis for holding the property owner liable for your fall.
In some cases, the insurance company might shift some of the blame to you. Under Florida’s contributory fault laws, your compensation for damages may be reduced by the percent of fault assigned to you by a jury.
Multiple Parties Are Liable for Your Damages
Cases involving multiple liable parties may need to go to trial to settle liability disputes. Each of the defendants in the lawsuit may argue that they are entirely innocent of liability or the other defendants have a more significant share of liability for damages.
The judge or jury would decide which defendants are liable and in what amounts. The jury verdict would reflect each defendant’s share of liability for your damages.
The Party Does Not Have Sufficient Insurance Coverage
The insurance company for the at-fault party might agree to pay the policy limits for a personal injury claim. The company believes that the insured is liable for your damages. However, damages exceed the policy limits.
In this example, the insurance provider agrees to settle the claim for the full amount of the policy limits. Your personal injury lawyer accepts the settlement offer, but refuses to release all claims and parties.
The insurance company fulfilled its responsibility by paying the policy limits. You may file a personal injury lawsuit against the party who caused your injury, seeking a personal judgment for damages exceeding the insurance policy limits.
However, you can only proceed with the legal case if you did not release your right to file a lawsuit by signing a settlement agreement. Settlement agreements prepared by insurance companies generally contain language releasing all parties from all actions, including unknown claims.
The Statute of Limitations is About to Expire
An insurance company or at-fault party may drag out investigations and settlement negotiations. The purpose is to allow the statute of limitations to expire.
The Florida statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury claims. If you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline expires, you cannot hold the at-fault party legally liable for your damages.
The deadlines for filing a personal injury lawsuit depend on the claim type and other factors. There could be exceptions to the general statute of limitations for claims. A Boca Raton personal injury lawyer calculates the deadline for filing a lawsuit in your case and monitors that deadline during settlement negotiations.
Your Damages Are Considerable
The insurance company may disagree with your valuation of damages. For example, it might allege that the correct value of your damages is much lower than the amount you demand to settle your case.
- Medical bills
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Mental anguish
- Impairments and disabilities
- Emotional distress
- Loss of income, including reductions in earning potential
- Reduced quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You may provide expert testimony valuing your damages based on the severity of your injuries. However, the defense may call expert witnesses that refute your claims. The defense’s expert witnesses allege a much lower value for your damages.
The jury members decide the value of the damages after hearing and considering the evidence during a trial.
Reasons Why Personal Injury Cases Settle Without Going to Court
Both parties in a dispute recognize that filing lawsuits and proceeding to court can be time-consuming and costly. Therefore, they are willing to negotiate a fair settlement to save time and money.
Furthermore, jury trials are risky. You cannot predict with accuracy what a jury might decide. A party could have a strong case, but the jurors rule in favor of the other party.
For accident victims, settlement agreements put money in their pocket faster than going to trial. Furthermore, the defendant could appeal a jury award. Even though the injured person wins their case, the matter could be tied up in court for years as it proceeds through the appeals process.
How Do You Know Whether to Accept a Personal Injury Settlement Offer?
The best way to protect yourself is to talk to a Boca Raton personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement offer. A personal injury lawyer analyzes the facts of your case to determine whether the settlement offer is fair. Also, the attorney can help you weigh the risks of going to court versus accepting a settlement offer now.
In some situations, you might consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to settle a disputed personal injury claim. Mediation and arbitration are forms of ADR used to settle disputes without going to court. You and the other party may agree to binding or non-binding ADR.
Non-binding ADR means you can proceed to court if you are not satisfied with the outcome of mediation or arbitration. Binding ADR requires the parties to accept an arbitrator’s decision instead of going to trial.
Contact Our Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Whether we settle your claim through negotiations or go to trial, our legal team at the Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers aggressively advocates for maximum compensation for your claim. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation and case review with an experienced personal injury attorney in Boca Raton, FL.