Get advice from experienced civil litigation attorneys about the pros and cons of settling a case.
Today’s civil litigation attorneys have seen it all. In current society, litigation is more prevalent than ever. And so is the likelihood your case will be settled without once setting foot in the courtroom.
Generally speaking, settlement happens outside the courtroom, with one party offering up a payment or award of some kind in exchange for making the case go away. Now, why would so many choose to settle a case without the benefit of a judge or jury – sometimes for less money than they might have been able to get by going to trial?
Benefits of Settling a Case Outside of Court
While everyone’s reasons are unique to their situation, these are the most common reasons we see for accepting settlement over a trial:
- Trials mean more attorney hours, expert witnesses (some you might have to pay for), depositions, travel and a lot of time. By settling before going to trial, you can reduce some expenses, while eliminating others all together.
- S-T-R-E-S-S. Trial can be difficult. It can drag on for a long time, and cause emotional trauma to both parties. It can also be especially bad if you are called as a witness; testimony and cross-examination are exhausting for people not used to it.
- Privacy is ensured. Part of your settlement can include a privacy clause, ensuring specific case details and other information won’t be made public. In a court, documents submitted become part of the official record. This makes them both public AND searchable. Including a privacy clause makes it illegal for anyone to publicly discuss your case or disclose details.
- The outcome is assured. Juries can be a big wild card in a trial situation. A settlement allows you to negotiate a specific outcome, and assures once you both sign on the dotted line, you’ll get exactly what is contained within the agreement. No more. No less. And no appeals.
- Trials can drag on for years, even before the appeal process kicks in. Settlement is generally much quicker.
- Trials are governed by strict rules and guidelines, dictating every single second of courtroom procedure. Not so with settlements. How you approach a topic can vary widely, and you can even ask for something like an apology; one thing you’re very unlikely to get from a trial outcome.
- No one is guilty. In trials, generally there is a verdict: guilty or not. This then gets recorded in the public record. With settlements, there is no record. You can compensate for a mistake without being forced to admit any wrongdoing.
When You Should Opt for Trial
Does your case have farther reaching societal ramifications? Think cases relating to a woman’s right to choose, racial bias, or public health risks. In instances like these, a settlement won’t affect any real change, or set a precedent for future cases and public policy.
Is settling a case always the best choice? No. But for many people, it is the best choice for them.