Personal injury accident cases come in many forms. Most people think of a car accident when they think of a personal injury accident but there are an infinite amount of other accidents that can be considered personal injury accidents as well. For example, a dog bite, a fall at a store or injuries suffered in the workplace cam all be personal injury accidents. Many personal injury accident cases are settled before the plaintiff even files an official lawsuit in court. If negligence (fault) is clear and the plaintiff’s injuries are not contested by the defendant then the case frequently ends with a settlement agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant. In some cases, though, a settlement agreement is not able to be reached between the parties. It may be that the defendant denies any negligence on her part . In states that use comparative negligence approach, such as California, it may be that the defendant accepts some negligence but the parties disagree as to how much negligence should be attributable to the defendant. Lastly, the parties may actually agree on the issue of negligence but the defendant may not agree to the monetary amount of damages that the plaintiff is requesting. In any of these situations, the plaintiff may consider taking the case to trial.
Before a plaintiff decides to proceed to trial, he should understand the potential risks and rewards associated with taking a personal injury case to trial. When a personal injury accident case goes to trial, it is heard in front of a jury. The jury will ultimately decide whether or not the defendant was negligent, what percentage of negligence the defendant is responsible for and how much compensation to award the plaintiff if they find the defendant negligent. While a jury verdict or award may be appealable in some cases, the plaintiff should consider the decision of the jury to be final. Therefore, one of the biggest risks with taking a personal injury case to trial is that it is a gamble. Whether the plaintiff receives anything at all in the form of compensation is totally in the hands of the jury. Juries can be unpredictable and hard to read. A plaintiff may think she has a rock solid case only to lose everything when the jury returns with its decision. Anything risk that the plaintiff must consider s the time involved in taking a case to trial. Time frames will vary from one jurisdiction to another, but you can plan on months, if not years, before your case will actually reach trial. In the meantime, the plaintiff receives nothing in the way of compensation. Lastly, a plaintiff must consider the reality of the defendant’s financial situation. Many settlement offers are based on the amount the defendant is able to pay. Insurance policies generally have caps that maximize the amount they will pay out as well. If the plaintiff refuses the defendant’s settlement offer and ultimately wins a larger award at trial but the defendant has no resources to pay the award then the plaintiff is essentially in no better of a position.
The potential rewards for the plaintiff are apparent. If the defendant has refused to accept negligence and made no settlement offer then a plaintiff has nothing to lose by taking the case to trial. If the defendant is accepting no responsibility, then the plaintiff needs to consult with her attorney before proceeding to trial to analyze her chances of convincing a jury that the defendant is responsible. If the defendant has made a settlement offer but the plaintiff feels the offer is too low, then the jury could award the plaintiff significantly more at trial. The bottom line is generally that a plaintiff could win big or lose big by taking a personal injury case to trial.
If you would like a California personal injury accident case evaluated at no cost, please contact attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit him online at www.ledgerlaw.com.
Law Offices of Ledger & Associates (Los Angeles Office)
811 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90017