What Are the Chances Your Personal Injury Claim Will Go to Court?


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During free consultations with potential clients, many of them ask, “Will my case go to court?” We hear this question an awful lot, regardless of the type of case: a car wreck, medical malpractice, defective product, or premises liability.

We understand clients want an idea of what they might be getting (and getting into) before hiring a lawyer. And most people unfamiliar with the personal injury claims process naturally believe they’ll end up in court.

But the fact of the matter, according to the U.S. government, is that about 95 percent of all injury claims are settled before they even go to trial. So, getting a fair
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personal injury award is more like “Let’s Make a Deal,” rather than the civil equivalent of “Law & Order.” There are several reasons for this, all of them rather practical

The Defendant’s Insurance Company’s Biggest Fear

Insurance companies want to be viewed by the public as our friends, and we are in their “good hands.” But the truth of the matter is that they spend fortunes on advertising and public relations campaigns in order to lead the public into believing that very thing. They rake in billions in premiums and then fight tooth and nail to prevent paying out claims. Most often, they do all they can to avoid that eventuality.

But even more than they hate a big payout, insurance companies dread having to go in front of a jury because too much can happen – most of it bad for them.

They know jury members have insurance. Some may even have had problems with them in the past. And though jury members take an oath to fairly deliberate the evidence at trial, they naturally have their own experiences and prejudices. Plus, in many civil trials, insurance companies tend to be viewed as miserly villains who try to “get over” on those in genuine need.

Insurance companies would rather do their business quietly, out of the public eye, not dragged into the spotlight where their methods can be examined by the community and the media in open court. So their “image problem,” combined with instances where they are opposed by seasoned trial lawyers, makes them open to negotiating a much better settlement in order to avoid a trial.

Insurance Companies Generally Settle with Injured Plaintiffs Who Hire Lawyers

Insurance adjusters go to great lengths to discourage claimants from hiring lawyers. They often make veiled or even overt threats when someone mentions they’re going to talk to a lawyer. Adjusters do this because it’s a proven fact that those who hire attorneys recover higher damage amounts than those without attorneys to assist them.

In fact, if you are being represented by an attorney, and as your lawyer’s investigation produces a sound body of evidence, the insurance company often sees the advantage of cutting their losses and offering very fair settlement amounts that injured victims can comfortably accept.

The Strength of an Injured Plaintiff’s Case also Leads to Successful Negotiations

One rubric of law is this. Trials are won in discovery more than in front of the judge or jury. Discovery is the investigation and gathering of evidence in any legal matter. Seasoned injury lawyers and their investigative teams find the facts, depose (interview) witnesses and prepare compelling damage packages (the formal “request” for a specific amount of compensation, and the facts behind their client’s “demand”).

These and other more subtle reasons produce acceptable settlements for most injured clients of experienced personal injury lawyers, rather than being part of that small percentage of claims that end up in court.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Tucker
John Tucker began his career in the insurance claims industry in 1990, initially working for an insurance carrier. For the past 18 years John was employed with a prominent personal injury law firm in New York. He advocated on behalf of injured clients injured in vehicle accidents, construction accidents, workers compensation and social security disability. His diverse background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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