If you are involved in a personal injury case, you might be very concerned about going to court. What will a judge think of the case? How will your lawyer defend you? What will the outcome of the case be? A lot of uncertainty and stress can result from the prospect of taking your case to court. However, in personal injury cases, court does not have to be the only potential outcome. There are a few alternatives to going to court that might work better in your family’s situation. If you don’t want to deal with the stress of going to court, the time investment, and the money investment, an alternative might be the right choice for you.
Going to Court: A Formal Lawsuit
Many personal injury cases go to civil court. Lawsuits are not initiated by the government like criminal cases are; instead, they are initiated by the injured party (the “plaintiff”) and filed against the allegedly responsible party (the “defendant”). The defendant in the case can be a person or a larger entity, such as a business or even a government agency. A formal lawsuit takes place when the plaintiff takes the case to court and each party presents evidence to a judge or a jury. A ruling is then determined based on the evidence that is presented in court. In formal lawsuits, neither party really has much of a say in the final decision – all that they can do is present their cases and wait for the verdict. As a result, there is an inherent risk in taking a case to court.
Most personal injury cases never make it to court because they settle before court becomes a real option. Early settlement occurs in most cases, and if an agreement is reached, the court doesn’t have to be involved. Settlements are generally negotiations in which both parties and their lawyers discuss the case and come to a fair agreement regarding compensation and other issues on their own.
Once a settlement is reached and agreed upon, both parties sign a written agreement saying that they will not pursue the case anymore. Settlements are oftentimes the best course of action because they give both parties in the case control over the negotiations and the outcome of the settlement. There is no risk of losing the case in court or spending additional time and money on a formal lawsuit.
Mediation is another option when it comes to determining the outcome of a case. It occurs when both parties involved in the case meet with a third party that is neutral and discuss the issues involved in the case. A mediator is trained to assist people in disputes and make sure that they come to a decision that is pleasing for both parties. In many ways, mediation is similar to a settlement, as it allows both parties to determine the result of the case without having to go to court; however, the assistance of a mediator can make communication easier than trying to negotiate without one.
A formal lawsuit, settlements, and mediation all have their pros and cons. To determine which is the best option in your case, you can discuss your situation with a personal injury lawyer.