Slips, Trips And Falls: 5 Good Reasons To Settle Your Lawsuit Out Of Court

Posted on: 15 May 2015

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, 8 million people in the United States end up in the emergency room due to a fall. What's more, these accidents are the leading cause of injuries at work for people over the age of 55, so it's unsurprising that so many people file lawsuits because of these incidents. While victims must often take this step to get the right compensation for their injuries, many people eventually decide to settle out of court. Why is an out-of-court settlement in your personal injury case sometimes the right decision? Find out here.

You can save money

When you decide to file a lawsuit against somebody, you may not appreciate how much money this action will cost. After a slip or fall, your personal injury attorney will normally charge for his or her services based on a contingent fee. You'll probably know this term as 'no win, no fee', and this approach is popular across the United States. Nonetheless, at the end of a successful case, you will need to pay your lawyer a fixed percentage of the settlement – typically a third.

What you may not realise is that, even if you lose, you will probably still face other costs. Each case will incur court filing fees, witness costs and other charges that you cannot recover if the court rules against you. If your slip and fall lawsuit rolls on for several years, the total costs could potentially cause financial ruin. As such, an earlier settlement can help you avoid these costs and walk away with a reasonable sum of money.

You control the outcome

When you approach a lawyer, he or she will normally give you his professional advice on the strength of your case. In some cases, he or she will tell you that you have a very good chance, while other cases will seem less certain. In fact, you cannot accurately predict the outcome of any case, and slip and falls cases are particularly unpredictable.

What's more, it's impossible to know how much the jury will award in damages. A 2012 case in Florida against a leading retailer awarded the plaintiff $1 million, against both parties' expectations. In this case, the award was good for the plaintiff, but things can easily go the other way. An out-of-court settlement gives you a level of control, particularly in a complex case, where your lawyer suggests it is hard to prove liability for your slip or fall.

You can protect your privacy

In most cases, the details of your trial will become public record. You can ask the judge to seal the records, but it's unlikely you will have a strong enough reason to justify this. As such, details of your personal life could become public record. It's important to remember that the defendant will do everything possible to discredit you, which could cause damage to your personal life or your career. A private settlement keeps the information away from the public eye.

You can save time

Many people have no perception of the time it can take for your case to go to court. In the initial discovery stage alone, both parties must thoroughly investigate your injuries, the accident, any witnesses and any other information relevant to the case. Generally, you can assume it will take at least two years before the case even reaches court. Have you got that long to wait?

An out-of court settlement allows you to expedite a prompt outcome. With both parties' agreement, it's unnecessary to investigate the matter further. Indeed, many defendants insist on a prompt outcome as part of the agreement not to proceed with the case.

You can avoid a lot of stress

It's easy to underestimate the stress of litigation. If you injure yourself after a slip or fall, you must then contend with the physical symptoms and the anxiety of an ongoing court case. In many cases, you will become reliant on the settlement to pay for the adjustments you need to make in your life, so the longer the case continues the harder daily life can become.

A settlement is much easier and less stressful. Instead of trying to discredit you, the defendant will want to work with you to bring the matter to an end. As such, you'll find more room for negotiation and far less tension than you would expect in a court case.

Experts say that around 95 per cent of personal injury cases do not go to trial. Given the cost, timescale and stress related to these cases, it's easy to understand why so few people choose to go to court.

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