Settle or Sue – How Do You Know?

Many people assume that personal injury lawsuits frequently go to trial, but the opposite is actually true. According to, 95-96 percent of personal injury cases are settled before trial. What’s more, 90 percent of the cases that do go to trial don’t end with a favorable result, although the odds are somewhat better in front of a judge than in front of a jury.

So when should you settle, and when should you sue?


When to Settle

The main reason that most cases settle out of court is the desire to avoid the expense involved in litigation. Trial lawyer fees as well as the cost of expert witnesses, depositions, travel, and extra time spent add up, although most of these expenses can be reduced or eliminated entirely by settling before trial.

Taking a case to trial is also very stressful for many people who do not relish the idea of having their injury as well as details of their lives played out in open court. When a case settles out of court, the details are kept private, but if it goes to trial, the court documents become public record.

The terms of a settlement are put in writing, agreed to by both parties, and very predictable compared to trying a case in front of a jury, where the results are often extremely uncertain. When a case is settled out of court it is officially over, but if a case goes to court the losing party is free to appeal a court decision and further drag out an already long process.

When to Sue

Sometimes settlement offers are so unfair to one side that there is really no choice but to take the case to trial, especially if the plaintiff won’t receive sufficient compensation to cover all his damages.

If certain aspects of your case affect society as a whole, filing a lawsuit can make sense. If the case challenges Constitutional limitations or concerns a fundamental right, taking it to trial may create precedent and potentially change public policy, things that a settlement agreement won’t do.

If you are looking for competent legal advice, contact a personal injury lawyer at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys online, or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 (toll-free) today.


Image courtesy of Activedia/pixabay.