Inasmuch as the majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court, it is unlikely that one’s case will go to trial. Insurance companies are in possession of the funds to make payments on claims, and it is less expensive for them to do so than to risk going to trial. It is possible that at trial, a jury that is sympathetic to the plaintiff will render an extremely large award for pain and suffering.
The defendants may also prefer to settle out of court in order to avoid any bad publicity due to their alleged negligent behavior. While settlements are private, trials are public. When drawing up the settlement, the defendant may include a confidentiality agreement to be signed by the plaintiff.
The plaintiff may also find that the settlement is to his or her advantage because one is more likely to realize financial compensation sooner than if one were to go to trial, which can take an inordinate amount of time. Usually, trials do not begin until one year after the claim was first filed. And if there are appeals, there may be extensions that last months or years.
Petrillo: What cases go to trial and what cases resolve outside of court? Do cases resolve outside of court?
Goldberg: Well, the short answer is yes. Statistically, most cases, the overwhelming number of cases that come before us do settle beforehand. Which cases settle? There’s no way of knowing. So what our philosophy has always been is that when we bring in a case, we want to make sure it’s a legitimate case, where there is liability, meaning somebody else has wronged someone and from a legal place, there is a reason to bring a lawsuit, and then that there’s damages that aren’t minor, that aren’t of a limited basis, that are of substantial basis. If those two things are there, we believe it has merit. We prepare each case as if each case is going to go to trial. Most cases don’t, but we’re ready for those cases that do.
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