Should You Settle Your Personal Injury Case or Go to Trial?

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Settle a personal injury lawsuit or go to trial?

In the aftermath of an accident, one big question looms: Should you settle your personal injury case, or should it go to trial? Considering the millions of emergency visits each year for unintentional injuries, it’s clear this is a common and critical dilemma.

The decision you make can profoundly impact not just only finances but your overall well-being too. Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of both options to help you make the best choice for your situation.

Key Points:

  1. Quick Settlements: Fast money, but possibly less than you could get.
  2. Going to Trial: Might win big, but it’s a longer and uncertain path.
  3. Costs Up Front: Trials are pricey and take time; settlements can ease the immediate financial strain.
  4. Stress and Privacy: Settling is private and less stressful; trials are public and demanding.

Understanding Personal Injury Settlements: Pros and Cons

What Exactly is a Personal Injury Settlement?

After an accident, you might hear the term “personal injury settlement.” This is a legal agreement between you—the person who was hurt—and the party responsible for your injuries, typically his or her insurance company. A settlement isn’t just a quick handshake; it’s a formal contract that specifies how much money you’ll receive to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other related damages.

The Advantages of Choosing a Settlement

  1. Speed and Simplicity. When you’re healing from an injury and watching bills pile up, speed matters. Settlements usually wrap up in a few months, much faster than going to trial, which can take years. Let’s say, for instance, you’ve hurt your leg in a fall. A quick settlement could cover your hospital bills and the income you’ve lost while you’re unable to work.
  2. Guaranteed Outcome. Trials are unpredictable—you could end up with a lot, or very little, or even nothing. Settlements provide a guaranteed amount. If you agree to a $60,000 settlement, that money is yours, no questions asked.
  3. Privacy and Discretion. Settlement negotiations are private, not public like trials. If privacy is important to you, settling keeps the details of your personal injury claim out of the public eye, away from neighbors or colleagues who might otherwise learn about your lawsuit.
  4. Control Over the Agreement. Unlike a trial, where the outcome is in the hands of a judge or jury, a settlement gives you power. You can negotiate the terms, basing them on what’s most important to you, whether it’s covering medical costs, psychological support, or other needs.
  5. Less Stress. Court battles can be stressful, with constant uncertainty and conflict. Settlements are generally smoother, which saves you from having additional stress, which is particularly valuable when you’re already dealing with injuries.
  6. Flexibility. A settlement can include terms that a court might not consider. For example, if you’re injured by a defective product, you might negotiate not only for compensation but also for the company to improve their safety standards.
  7. Maintaining Relationships. If you need to maintain a relationship with the other party, like a neighbor or employer, a less confrontational settlement can help keep things civil.

Potential Drawbacks of Settling Your Case

  1. Possibly Lower Compensation. Be cautious as insurance companies are in the business of saving money and might offer you less than you need. For instance, if a spinal injury from an accident needs ongoing care, an initial offer might seem adequate but fall short of covering all future expenses.
  2. No Legal Precedent. Settling doesn’t establish legal guilt or set a precedent. This means your case won’t serve as a reference for future cases, which can be useful if you hope to make a broader impact, like changing a negligent practice in a medical facility.
  3. Lack of Public Validation. Settling privately means your case won’t be acknowledged publicly. If it’s important to you that others learn about your ordeal and that the responsible party is publicly held accountable, this won’t be achieved through a settlement.
  4. Compromises May Be Necessary. You might not get everything you want in a personal injury settlement. You’ll likely have to compromise, perhaps accepting less money or different terms than you hoped.
  5. Irreversible Decision. Once you settle, you can’t change your mind. This finality can be daunting, especially if you later find the settlement doesn’t fully cover your needs.
  6. Emotional Closure For some, the closure that comes from a trial—seeing the other party held accountable in a public setting—is important for emotional healing. A private settlement might not provide this sense of justice. 

Deciding Whether to Go to Trial: Risks and Rewards

 What is a personal injury trial?

If you’ve been injured and believe someone else is to blame, you might consider taking your case to trial. In the United States, a personal injury trial is where you (the plaintiff) can argue that another person, a company, or another entity (the defendant) is responsible for causing you harm, either through carelessness or intentional actions.

The goal of this process is to establish if the defendant is legally at fault for your injuries. If they are found responsible, the trial will then determine the amount of money they should pay you to cover your losses. This compensation could help with medical bills, lost wages, and other hardships you’ve endured because of the injury.

Pros of Choosing a Trial

  1. Potential for Greater Compensation. Money matters, especially when you’re facing medical bills and lost wages. Trials can secure higher financial compensation than settlements, which are often limited by insurance company calculations. Unlike settlements that may fall short, a trial allows a jury to fully understand the impact of your injuries, which can lead to a much larger award.
  2. Setting a Legal Precedent. Deciding to go to trial can do more than resolve your case—it can set a precedent. This is especially important in areas like digital privacy, environmental protection or workplace safety, where your case might lead to new laws. A verdict in your favor can shape future legal interpretations and enforce stricter accountability, thereby protecting others from similar harm.

Cons of Going to Trial

  1. Time Commitment. Trials are time-consuming. From filing your accident lawsuit to receiving a verdict, the process can last several months to years.
  2. Costs of Litigation. The expense of going to trial isn’t limited to emotional strain; it also accounts for costs like court fees, legal expenses, and other related costs that accumulate over time. 
  3. Uncertainty of Outcome. The nature of a trial is inherently unpredictable. No matter how strong your case may seem, the decision ultimately lies in the hands of a jury or judge, whose verdict may be unexpected. 

Making the Right Decision: Settling vs. Going to Trial

After exploring the nuances of personal injury settlements and trials, you might still wonder which path is best for you. This decision isn’t just about potential financial outcomes—it’s about what feels right for your situation.

  • Assess the Strength of Your Case. A convincing case with strong evidence may lead to better outcomes at trial, but if doubts exist, the guaranteed outcome of a settlement might be preferable.
  • Weigh Financial and Emotional Costs. Trials are costly and long, and they can add to stress. Settlements can provide quicker, less stressful resolutions, especially if you’re currently overwhelmed by medical and living expenses.
  • Review Settlement Offers. Carefully evaluate how well settlement offers meet your needs. If offers are too low and your case is strong, a trial might secure a fairer compensation.
  • Personal Preferences and Well-being. Consider your emotional well-being and personal preferences. If achieving a sense of justice through a public trial is important to you, it might outweigh the quicker, private resolution a settlement offers.

Decisions about settling or going to trial should ideally be made with the guidance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer. He or she can offer personalized advice that considers all aspects of your case, and help you make an informed choice that works with both your immediate needs and long-term interests. 

Get Financial Relief with a Personal Injury Lawsuit Loan

Feeling the financial pinch during the settlement process or a lengthy trial? Consider a non-recourse lawsuit loan from Baker Street Funding. Our pre-settlement funding provides the financial support you need to focus on recovery—not your bills.

Apply for a settlement loan with Baker Street Funding today and begin a new chapter where financial stability and peace of mind are not mere aspirations but your new reality.


What are the key differences between settling and going to trial for a personal injury case?

Settling your personal injury case typically involves negotiating an agreement with the opposing party to receive a certain amount of compensation without going to trial. This process is generally faster and guarantees a specific settlement amount, offering privacy and less stress. Going to trial, on the other hand, may lead to a potentially higher compensation but involves uncertain outcomes, longer time commitments, and can be more emotionally and financially taxing.

How do I know if settling or going to trial is the right option for me?

The best choice depends on several factors, including the strength of your evidence, your financial needs, personal preferences for privacy or public acknowledgment, and emotional readiness for a potentially lengthy process. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can provide personalized advice based on the specifics of your case.

Can I switch from settling to going to trial if I change my mind?

Once you agree to a settlement and sign the settlement agreement, it is typically binding and cannot be reversed. This makes it crucial to thoroughly consider all aspects of your circumstances and consult with your attorney before deciding to settle. If no settlement has been reached, you can choose to go to trial, provided you have not exceeded any legal time limits for filing.

At Baker Street Funding, we give you the inside scoop on pre-settlement funding by covering a variety of ... financing and legal topics to help you made the best financial decision for you and for your case. Our experts break down complex ideas in a way that's easy to understand so you can stay informed on current trends as well as tips and fact checked information by the CEO and founder, Daniel Digiaimo. Furthermore, Despite its name, consumer legal funding is not a loan. If you don't win your case, no payment needs to be made back. To avoid confusion and simplify matters on, we'll use the word "loan" throughout this article.

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