In Arizona, and elsewhere in the United States, most cases never make it through to trial litigation. Instead, a settlement is negotiated between the parties. In fact, legal industry observers estimate that more than 95 percent of cases are resolved before trial litigation can begin. For those unfamiliar with the process of litigating an injury claim, the fact that trial litigation is relatively uncommon (and seen as a “last resort” option) can come as something of a surprise.
Have you been injured in an accident that was caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another person? Trial litigation may enable you to recover damages as compensation for your injuries, but it can be time consuming, expensive, and full of uncertainty. Negotiating a settlement can save you a great deal of trouble in the long run, and secure you a favorable result — in some cases, a settlement can even ensure a level of amicability that might not otherwise be possible. Get connected to an Arizona personal injury attorney who has extensive experience settling claims.
Many plaintiffs may be unaware of the value in negotiating a settlement. Let’s take a quick peek at how settlements can work to your benefit, and then we’ll explore how a favorable settlement is negotiated.
Benefits of Settlement
Settlements are often said to be a win-win for both parties. In our adversarial legal system, this can be a confounding result. It’s actually quite simple to understand, however. When the plaintiff and defendant negotiate a settlement, they are gaining a number of advantages (in comparison to traditional trial litigation). Primarily, each party is able to exercise a level of control over the uncertainty that is inherent to litigation.
Uncertainty is fundamental to most litigation. Even where the plaintiff is able to establish a level of certainty, there may be elements of uncertainty attached to litigation. In situations where the defendant’s fault is undeniable, for example, there may still be substantial disagreement over the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s damages.
Negotiating a settlement empowers each side to take control and define the terms of litigation as they see it, instead of waiting for the court to determine who has won — and how much they have won.
For example, suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, and your damages tally up to about $500,000 in total. That’s a significant damages amount, and the defendant is very likely to argue against it in some manner — perhaps by asserting that some of your damages are borne out of pre-existing injuries. At trial, there is a chance that the court will find against you (leaving you with no recovery), or in the alternative, that the court will find in your favor, but will award you damages significantly below your expected total — say $200,000. In either scenario, this uncertainty can damage your ability to recover adequate damages for your injuries.
Negotiating a settlement for $400,000 would therefore be a favorable result. Though it is somewhat below your ideal recovery, it is higher than some of the possible scenarios should the court rule against you, or undervalue your claim.
There are a number of other advantages to settlement as well. Trial litigation can be time-consuming, emotionally frustrating, exhausting, and expensive. If your attorney is able to work with opposing counsel and help them understand your legitimate injury claims, you may be able to avoid trial litigation altogether and secure a favorable result through settlement.
Of course, though settlement is preferable in most cases, trial litigation may sometimes be necessary. There are times when neither party can come to an agreement. In rare cases, the defendant is simply hostile and uninterested in an amicable resolution. As such, it’s important that your attorney be well-prepared for trial litigation, even if negotiating a settlement is your target.