The majority of personal injury cases do not go to trial. They reach settlements, or agreements to resolve a legal dispute outside of court. Settlements are typically desired over trials, as they are faster, easier and the outcome remains within each party’s control. However, there are circumstances where a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer may recommend going to trial, instead.
Trial vs. Settlement: What’s the Difference?
A personal injury trial is a court case with an outcome that is decided by a judge or jury. An insurance settlement is a private agreement that resolves a legal dispute outside of court. During a personal injury trial, the injured victim (plaintiff) and the party accused of causing the injury (defendant) both have an opportunity to present evidence, information and witnesses.
At the conclusion of the trial, a judge or jury will determine if the defendant should be held liable based on whether the plaintiff met the burden of proof. This burden is a “preponderance of the evidence,” or “more likely to be true than not true.” The decision made by the court is nonnegotiable and must be accepted by the parties, unless they wish to file an appeal.
In a settlement, an insurance company and claimant both agree upon a sum of money that is adequate to release the defendant from any further liability for the incident. Both parties have a say in whether a personal injury settlement is reached. If a settlement cannot be accomplished, the case may proceed to trial.
Why Do Some Cases Go to Trial in Nevada?
Many personal injury cases in Nevada involve complex legal issues or conflicts that prevent a settlement from being reached and require a resolution ordered by a judge or jury.
A trial may be necessary if any of the following factors exist:
- Liability dispute
- Multiple parties involved
- Comparative negligence (blaming the victim)
- Dispute regarding pre-existing injuries
- Disagreement on the extent of damages
- Cannot agree on the terms of the settlement
- Refusal to offer a fair settlement amount
- Uncooperative insurance company
- Statute of limitations issues
If a settlement cannot be reached, a case may go through arbitration or mediation before proceeding to trial. These are alternative dispute resolution methods that are completed with the assistance of trained conflict resolution professionals.
Pros and Cons of Each
In general, settlements are faster, easier and cheaper than personal injury trials. Settlements can be arranged within six months, on average, while a personal injury trial can take one year or longer. Settlements allow both parties to remain in control of the outcome of a case. Finally, settlements can remain private, while court trials are part of public record.
In some situations, however, trials are more desirable. If an insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, a trial could lead to the case results that an injured victim deserves. The jury verdicts awarded in successful personal injury trials can far exceed settlement values. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for personal injury claimants in Nevada.
It is ultimately up to the injured accident victim if he or she wants to go to trial. With the right personal injury attorney, the trial process does not have to be daunting. An attorney can confidently guide you through a court case, if necessary, to fight for the best possible outcome. When results matter most, contact Koch & Brim, LLP to work with highly experienced negotiators and litigators.