Pros and Cons of Settling Out of Court

Dallas, Texas lawyer Bob Kraft over at his P.I.S.S.D blog has a great guest post from Chris Jacobson of Criminal Justice Degee.com regarding the pros and cons of settlement.  Here is this very informative and useful post:

No one really wants to go to court and go through the long and often messy process that is a trial, but when it comes to claiming what’s rightfully yours, it’s not good to give up without a fight. And that’s where your personal injury lawyer comes into the picture and helps you deal with not just your monetary compensation, but also the emotional fallout as well. By helping you understand your case better and providing you with the psychological boost you need to stay out of depression in this trying time, your attorney can make your life much easier by helping you decide if it is better to take the case to court or settle outside after mediation or arbitration.

There are both pros and cons to settling out of court, and even though each case is unique, the following apply to most cases in general.

On the plus side:

  • The settlement is usually quicker and the money is in your hand sooner than you expect it – this helps take care of medical expenses and other immediate costs without having to incur debt.
  • You save yourself and your family the agony and stress of going through a long and arduous trial – it takes up a major part of your life and your work and other aspects suffer as a result. You have to be in court on all the days of the trial, and this could wreak havoc with your professional and social life.
  • You can keep the details of the case, and much of your personal life, outside the court and public records. With out-of-court settlements, you can ask for a confidentiality agreement where the details of the case are kept private and out of public records.
  • Also, you don’t have to relive the experience for a jury and suffer the questions of an avid defense attorney.
  • Even though most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, you will incur some costs during the trial and you’ll find it hard to make ends meet, what with the medical and other expenditure that’s already on your head.
  • A court case can take years to reach a conclusion, and even when it does, appeals filed by the other party can drag it even further.

On the minus side however:

  • The amount you get is sometimes less than what a jury would have awarded in a civil court.
  • Frequently, the damages take into account only the actual cost of injury (medical expenditure, accidental damage to property, and so on) and does not provide for punitive damages or emotional and mental agony suffered or loss of job or the quality of life.

It would seem like the most sensible thing to do when fighting a personal injury case is to ask for an out-of-court arbitration and settlement, and trust your lawyer to get you the best possible deal based on your circumstances. Even though the compensation may be less, it saves you the hassle of a long-drawn out court trial and the agony of prolonging your bitter experience for longer than necessary. However, talk to your attorney and make the best decision for your case, based on the facts and details available.



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