What Percentage of Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?

A serious accident can leave you out of work with medical bills and other expenses piling up. If someone else caused your accident, you shouldn’t have to cover the resulting expenses. Many injured people are nervous about the potential of having to file a lawsuit. What percentage of personal injury cases go to trial? What are your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit? Our team of experienced Myrtle Beach personal injury attorneys at Maguire Law Firm answers these and other common questions in this guide.

How Many Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?

Most claimants choose to settle out of court. Only about 5% of all personal injury cases go to trial.

Why Do Some Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial but Not Others?

Whether a personal injury case goes to trial depends on several factors.

Disagreements over the value or merits of the case

The most common reason personal injury cases go to trial is a disagreement about the value or merits of the case.

Either party may decline to settle if they disagree with the other about who is liable for the damages or how much compensation the liable party owes.

How clear the facts are

If the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant may choose to settle to save the time and expense of a trial. Defendants who believe they are likely to lose in court may prefer to settle to avoid the publicity a trial brings. Some defendants may negotiate a non-disclosure agreement as part of the settlement.

Amount of risk the parties are willing to take

Jury decisions can be unpredictable. Plaintiffs and defendants who are risk-averse may prefer the surety of a settlement over the risk of going to trial.

What Are the Advantages of Settling Out of Court?

The specific advantages of accepting a settlement offer vary from one case to another. However, generally, settlements may be advantageous for several reasons.

Settlements are safer

About 66% of plaintiffs win in bench trials and about 53% in jury trials. However, your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit can vary depending on the type of case, available evidence, and other factors. If you go to trial, you may receive less money than your settlement offer or no money at all.

Settlements are faster and cheaper

Depending on how busy the court system is, it may take a long time to get a trial date and, once your trial begins, it may take months or years before the jury or judge reaches a verdict. If the defendant appeals, you may have to wait several more months or years to receive any money.

The legal fees required to cover the cost of a trial are usually substantially more than the cost of settling a case.

While many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, going to trial will still tend to reduce your payout more than agreeing to a settlement.

What Are the Advantages of Going to Trial?

There are two main reasons you may want to go to trial instead of settling your personal injury case.

The other party refuses to pay

The other party or their insurance company may refuse to pay your claim. If mediation or arbitration isn’t an option or doesn’t work, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may be your only path to recovery.

The settlement offer isn’t fair

The other party or insurance company may offer you a settlement that is less than the full value of your claim. If you can’t reach a fair settlement through negotiation, it may be worthwhile to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit may motivate the other party to offer a better settlement or result in an award that is larger than your settlement offer.

Which Court Handles Personal Injury Claims?

Most plaintiffs file personal injury lawsuits in state-level trial courts called circuit courts. Circuit courts can hear any type of case, and there is no limit to the amount of damages you can pursue.

If your damages are $7,500 or less, you can file your case in a magistrate court. However, you can file in a circuit court if you prefer.

If your case involves a violation of the U.S. Constitution or federal law or there is complete diversity, you may file your lawsuit in The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. Complete diversity exists when the plaintiff and defendant live in different states, and the total amount of damages is more than $75,000.

If you disagree with the decision of whichever court you present your case in, you may appeal your case to the South Carolina Court of Appeals or, in specific circumstances, to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Most of the time, you must file your lawsuit in the county where the defendant lives or the county where the accident happened.

In some cases, there is more than one option. Your attorney can help you decide the best court to file in.

What Types of Personal Injury Cases Are There?

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common type of personal injury case, followed by medical malpractice and product liability. Other examples of personal injury cases include:

  • Dog bites
  • Premises liability
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Wrongful death

Personal injury trials make up 36% of all of the lawsuits in the South Carolina Court system.

In Which Phase Are Most Personal Injury Cases Settled?

Personal injury cases involve seven phases:

  1. Initial Consultation
  2. Investigation
  3. Treatment
  4. Demand Package
  5. Negotiations
  6. Settlement
  7. Litigation

The parties may settle a personal injury case at any time before the court reaches a verdict. However, settlements most commonly happen during the demand phase.

During the demand phase, your attorney presents an in-depth overview of your case to the defendant, an estimate of the damages you are seeking compensation for, and supporting documentation. After reviewing the demand package, if the defendant believes settling the case is advantageous, they will typically make a settlement offer and then enter into the negotiations phase.

What Should You Do if You Get Hurt in an Incident That Wasn’t Your Fault?

If someone else’s negligence results in an injury to you, get medical treatment for your injuries. Prompt treatment is important for both your recovery and proving the merits and value of your case.

Call the police and file a report. Ask for a copy of the report or find out when and where you can obtain one.

Document the incident by taking photos of the scene, your injuries, any property damage, the people and objects involved, and anything else that is relevant to proving your case. Get the names and contact information of all involved parties and any witnesses and retain copies of any bills or invoices related to expenses you incurred due to the incident.

Give Maguire Law Firm a call. Whether you settle your claim out of court or need to go to trial, we can help you navigate the process.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help With Your Case?

Unlike most people, lawyers and insurance companies deal with personal injury cases every day. Your attorney will fight for your rights and fair compensation for your injuries.

Additionally, your attorney will ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines, help you file your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, negotiate with the insurance company or opposing counsel, and gather the evidence necessary to prove your case. Whether you settle or go to trial, the other side will take you more seriously if you have an attorney.

Where Can You Get Help With Your Personal Injury Case?

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Maguire Law Firm can answer any questions you have, such as how likely your personal injury case is to go to trial. We can also help you decide whether you should accept any settlement offer from the other party or their insurance and file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.

Contact us to discuss your case.

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