If you have sustained injuries or life complications due to an accident that was not your fault, you could be entitled to compensation. However, the road to compensation can be complex. It can be hard to tell whether it is better to engage in a settlement process with the insurance company or go to trial.
Both approaches have their pros, and cons when it comes to a personal injury case. Luckily, if you have the support of an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer, like those at Abraham Watkins, they will support you and help you make the correct decisions.
To find out whether it is better to settle or to let your case go to trial, call one of our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. We will look at the facts of your case and use our 70 years of combined experience to identify and fight through the best option by your side.
Every free case evaluation offered by us is totally no obligation and everything you disclose will be protected by the attorney-client relationship of confidentiality. Even the resulting process will take place on a no win no fee basis.
Not Every Personal Injury Case Goes To Trial in Texas
Most personal injury cases in Texas settle out of court, and therefore do not go to trial.
This is because often a settlement offer is given to the injured party by the insurance company before the case proceeds to go to trial. However, it is often difficult to get insurance companies to agree to a fair amount of compensation, especially if you do not have an experienced Houston trial attorney at your side.
If your settlement negotiations result in you being offered less money than you deserve for your injuries, going to trial may be the best option.
Why Cases Go to Trial
There are several reasons why personal injury cases may go to trial instead of ending in a settlement agreement outside of court. These include:
- The insurance company refusing to offer a fair settlement, leaving going to trial as the best option to achieve a fair compensation amount
- When the two parties disagree about the evidence, the extent of injuries, or other factors, a judge or jury trial may be the only solution
- When personal injury claims involve severe injuries, it is more common for the insurance company to refuse fair compensation than with a minor injury case that would award less money
This is not an exhaustive list. However, personal injury trials are usually the best option if the injured party needs more money, the evidence is disputed, or the insurance company is being difficult or delaying unnecessarily.
How the Personal Injury Claim Negotiation Process Works
When you make a personal injury claim, the first step is usually to try to negotiate for a favorable settlement with the insurance company.
It is very rare that the insurance company will offer a fair settlement amount the first time round. The vast majority of times, you will need to negotiate the initial amount by writing a demand letter.
A good demand letter includes details of:
- Why the opposing party is liable for your injuries
- The injury and any complications suffered as a result
- Medical expenses and additional costs, such as lost wages
- The desired personal injury settlement amount
Your personal injury attorneys will help you draft the best possible demand letter. Negotiating a settlement offer without a personal injury attorney can be extremely difficult, as insurance companies are well practiced at reducing personal injury claims by any means necessary.
Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side In Personal Injury Cases
Some people do not realize that insurance companies are for-profit enterprises. This means it is in their best interest to pay out as little as possible in the settlement agreement.
To avoid paying a reasonable offer, insurance companies may try to:
- Trick you into disclosing unnecessary information to lower your claim amount
- Force you to sign legal documents or record a statement that will lower your claim
- Employ claims adjusters and lawyers to dispute your evidence
- Negotiate and delay relentlessly in the hope that you will accept a lower settlement than is reasonable
If you believe you are entitled to more money than your insurance company is willing to offer, making your case go to trial is often the only way to stand a chance of fair compensation.
The Personal Injury Trial or Settlement Process
If you are planning to take your personal injury lawsuit to trial or seek a settlement, it is helpful to know the legal process to ensure you are adequately prepared and reduce your anxiety.
The process will usually follow the steps outlined in the next sections.
Investigating the Personal Injury Case
In the hands of a good personal injury lawyer in Texas, an investigation will take place whether or not you intend on going to trial. Evidence makes both achieving a fair offer in a settlement and winning a court case more likely.
Your lawyer will help you collect, collate and assemble evidence into a strong case. Evidence may include:
- Photographs of the scene of the accident and/or the injury you sustained
- CCTV or dashcam footage
- Witness statements
- Relevant documents such as medical bills, correspondence with your employer about time off work, and reports from the emergency services
- Reconstructions of the events using experts or computer programs
Once the evidence has been assembled, the attorney representing your case will calculate a reasonable amount of compensation for your claim.
They will work this out by looking at the evidence, especially what measurable factors influence the cost to you, such as bills for medical care. Compensatory figures are usually calculated by considering things like:
- The realistic cost of property damage sustained in the accident
- The cost of medical expenses, including future medical care in the case of a long-term injury
- The sum of wages lost from time you could have attended work, but were instead forced to be off recovering
- Additional out-of-pocket costs, such as transport fees or childcare
- The level of pain or suffering your injury caused you, both mentally and physically
Filing the Lawsuit
Once the evidence has been collated and a figure reached, the next step is beginning the legal process of going to trial.
Your attorney will notify the at-fault party and their defense attorney that you are filing suit. Often, when an insurance company refuses to negotiate at the beginning of the process, they may settle before trial at this point when they realize you are serious and a settlement is the easiest option.
The Discovery Process
The next step involves a lot of waiting on your part, as the lawyers from both sides exchange facts, information, and evidence. The legal system works like this so that the trial is fair, with neither side able to pull surprises on the other.
If your insurance company has a weak case compared to that of your Houston trial attorney, they may decide that going to trial is a mistake and settle here for a more fair amount. If not, they are encouraged once more in the next step.
The Mediation Process
During mediation, the lawyers from both sides meet with a neutral party who will attempt to bring them to a compromise settlement to avoid the case going to trial.
While this can take a large amount of time, if the two parties can reach a fair settlement during mediation, you will avoid having often reasonably expensive court costs deducted from your final settlement if you win the case in court.
It is important to note that the mediation process is not a mandatory part of the pre-trial process, and not every court will insist upon it.
Going To Trial
If mediation fails, going to trial remains the only option.
Your trial may be decided by a judge or jury verdict, depending on the court. Either way, the process looks roughly the same.
Each lawyer will outline their argument in the opening statements, before presenting their evidence and the witness testimony backing up their case in full and proceeding with the cross-examination, closing arguments, and finally the verdict.
How Compensation is Awarded When a Case goes to Trial
Unlike with a settlement, where you know exactly how much you stand to gain if you accept, a trial offers you less certainty.
As well as deciding whether you win or lose the case, the judge or jury presiding over your trial will also decide the amount of compensation you receive. This will be based on the quality and quantity of the evidence and argument your lawyer gives, but may also be impacted by evidence or argument from the other side.
How a Civil Trial Differs from Criminal Trials
Evidence in a civil trial works differently to a criminal trial. This is because the stakes are lower. When declaring a person guilty of a crime, the judge or jury presiding over the trial must be sure beyond a reasonable doubt of that guilt – this is called the burden of proof.
However, the burden of proof is much lower in a civil trial, such as one for a personal injury. This means even if the evidence is not ironclad, a good argument or strong implications may win you the trial. This is one of many reasons why a good personal injury lawyer in Texas is so essential.
We Work on a Contingency Basis
Everything we have discussed above may sound expensive. The lengthy processes, determined evidence collection, and high-pressure court cases may seem like something only a well-off client could afford.
However, here at Abraham Watkins, we are committed to ensuring every person has access to high-quality legal counsel. That is why all our work is no win no fee. You will not pay any court costs, attorney fees, or spend a cent on anything unless you win your case. There are no hidden costs or surprise fees.
Even if you win your case, your legal fees are simply taken as a percentage of your final settlement. We are proud to say there is absolutely no risk involved in fighting for the financial justice you deserve.
Contact a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Now
At Abraham Watkins, we are proud to have more than 70 years combined experience standing up for those who have suffered an accident that was not their fault.
We offer free consultations at no obligation, no win no fee cases, and round-the-clock phone lines to ensure your journey to justice is smooth as possible.To find out more about how we could help you, pick up the phone and call 713-535-9319 today.
Schedule A Free Consultation Today.
If you have additional questions about your accident or injuries – or if you wish to speak to one of our attorneys about your legal options – please complete our online contact form or call our Houston law office at 888-261-8831 or 713-244-5486.
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