In most cases, personal injury lawsuits never make it to trial. They may be settled after the initial demand letter is sent, or they may be settled minutes before the trial is supposed to begin. However, every case is different. There may be a number of factors that affect whether or not your case eventually ends up before a jury. This is why you need an attorney who can handle all aspects of a personal injury trial, including negotiations, arguing motions, and handling a full jury trial.
My Philadelphia Personal Injury Case to Trial
The amount of damages, number of parties involved, specific defendants, and the law involved can all impact whether your case goes to trial. The more parties involved, the greater the chance that one of the plaintiffs or defendants will not accept a settlement, which may send the case through all the way to trial.
Additionally, if one of the defendants, or their insurance company, has a policy of never offering a settlement, the case may be forced into trial. The specific plaintiff or defendant involved may also impact whether the defendant wants to settle the case. If you are someone the jury is able to identify with and the jury can empathize with your story, you may want your case to go to trial. If the defendant is a big corporation with owners and employees who are on record saying harmful or hurtful comments about your situation, they will probably not want the case to go to trial.
In other cases, the law may be unclear when dealing with a novel situation. The plaintiff and defendant may be unsure how a judge will decide legal issues in the case, or how the jury may decide the facts. In these situations, it may be best for both sides to accept a settlement, rather than risk an unpredictable jury.
When dealing with a personal injury claim, you are looking to recover damages for your injuries. If the defendants agree to pay for all damages then you may not even have to file a lawsuit. However, personal injury cases are rarely so straightforward. The defendant may only agree to pay a small part of your claim, or they may deny any responsibility. In some cases, the defendant may even be trying to come after you to pay for their injuries.
If the defendant is not willing to agree to a settlement offer that meets your approval, the next step may be filing a personal injury lawsuit. This involves having your attorney file a complaint with the Courts of Common Pleas. The complaint lays out the basis for your claim, including the parties involved, and the damages sought. The complaint is served on the defendants, and the defendants file an answer. The next step is to begin the process of discovery.
Settlement Options During the Legal Process
Once you file a lawsuit, the defendants will know that they need to take your claim seriously. Simply by filing a lawsuit, the defendants may be more willing to offer a fair settlement, rather than go through costly litigation, and possibly risk much more in a jury trial. However, remember that whether or not you accept a settlement offer is always up to you, the client. Your lawyer can't settle your case without your approval.
As the discovery process continues, each side will learn more about the case through interviews, depositions, exchanging documents and medical records, and expert review. As the case gets closer to trial, your attorney will have a good idea of what your total damages are, and the chances of a successful trial outcome. After all, parties have all the available information, a settlement becomes more likely.
Court Settlement Procedures
In some cases, the judge may encourage or order settlement negotiations. This could be through a pre-trial settlement conference with the judge, or an alternative dispute resolution option. Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, may involve mediation or arbitration. Mediation is a non-binding process using a third-party mediator to help both sides come to a mutually acceptable agreement. They will not tell the parties what to do, they will help to encourage the parties to come up with their own solutions.
Arbitration uses a third-party arbitrator to evaluate the case based on the evidence presented, and make a non-binding judgment. If the parties involved reject the arbitration decision or are unable to agree on a settlement through mediation, the case will continue towards trial.
If the parties could not come to an agreement throughout the time leading up to trial, your case will be heard before a judge and jury, or in the case of a bench trial, before a judge alone. In a jury trial, the jury will ultimately decide if the defendant is at fault for causing your injuries, and how much to award you based on your damages.
In a jury trial, the plaintiff may walk away with a significant monetary award, or they may walk away without a penny. With a settlement agreement, each side may gain some and lose some. A jury trial can be unpredictable, so you should maintain open communication with your attorney to decide whether a settlement offer may be your best option.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Trial Lawyers
You need a personal injury attorney who will represent your best interests every step of the way. Whether your case settles before a lawsuit is filed, or whether it goes to a full jury trial, experienced Philadelphia attorneys will make sure you get the compensation you deserve. At Gilman & Bedigian, our team of personal injury attorneys has extensive experience aggressively pursuing compensation for injury victims and their families. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in Philadelphia, please contact our law offices for a free consultation.