Settlement versus Trial In An California Accident Case

By June 15, 2010 January 16th, 2018 Attorney-Lawyer

If you have suffered injuries as a result of a California accident, then you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. Accidents happen everyday, but sometimes someone’s negligence played a part in the accident. Accidents may happen while driving your car, flying in an airplane, crossing the street or simply doing your job. Regardless of the type of accident you have been involved in, you may have a valid California accident case. Exactly how that case will ultimately be resolved may depend on a number of factors, but it will likely be resolved by either reaching a settlement agreement with the responsible party (or parties) or by proceeding to trial and letting a jury decide how much to award you. So what are the differences between accepting a settlement agreement and going to trial?

There are two main reasons that a California accident case may not be settled prior to going to trial. The first reason is that the responsible party has not accepted fault – or negligence in legal terms. In order to reach a settlement agreement, the responsible party must admit that they were negligent in the accident. In other words, they must admit that their actions – or inactions – caused or contributed to the accident. In some cases, negligence is not obvious and the defendant does not want to agree that they were at fault. They may also agree that they were partially at fault but you have a difference of opinion as to the level of their fault or negligence. Your lawyer cannot force the defendant to accept fault and admit negligence. If they are unwilling to do so, then a settlement agreement cannot be reached and your case will need to proceed to trial to allow the jury to decide who was at fault.

The other big reason that you may not be able to reach a settlement agreement in you California accident case is that you cannot agree on the amount of compensation. Sometimes the responsible party agrees that they were negligent, but is unwilling to agree on the amount of compensation that you are asking for in your settlement demand. You should always consult with your accident lawyer before deciding on a reasonable amount to ask for in your accident case, but you are not obligated to settle for any particular amount. Your lawyer will advise you as to what he believes a jury is likely to award you if you proceed to trial and then you will decide whether to accept what the defendant is willing to pay or proceed to trial and let the jury decide how much to award you.

Remember that if your case proceeds to trial, then the jury will decide all issues that have not been agreed upon by the parties in advance. This means that they will decide whether the defendant was negligent at all and if so how much the defendant’s negligence contributed to the accident. They will then be the sole decision makers as to how much compensation you are entitled to. A trial can leave you with nothing or with much more compensation than the defendant was offering. It is always best to consult with you California accident lawyer before making the decision to take your case to trial.

If you would like more information or a free detailed evaluation of your California accident case, please contact California accident lawyer Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit him online at