Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

After an accident, you may wonder – will your personal injury case go to trial? If both parties cannot agree on a fair settlement amount, a personal injury case will go to trial. Personal injury occurs when one person’s negligence causes injury to another person. Some of the most common personal injury cases include medical malpractice, car accidents, premises liability, and product liability. The negligent party is legally responsible for paying financial compensation for the damages and injuries their negligence causes.

People being seated on the Jury box. personal injury case go to trial

If you have suffered an injury due to someone else’s conduct, you can contact Shindler & Shindler Injury Attorneys at (847) 933-4448 for assistance in pursuing compensation.

Why Do Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?

A personal injury case will go to trial if both parties cannot agree on a fair settlement amount. If your lawyer cannot obtain a reasonable settlement offer after negotiations, he or she may advise taking the case to trial. Even if the defense agrees to pay some settlement amount, you have the right to reject it. Taking your strong case to trial may be advisable to get the largest compensation award possible, but trials also mean risking getting no compensation if you were to lose. Your lawyer will provide advice, but the final decision is yours.

Filing a lawsuit initiates the trial process, but settling the disagreement without involving the court is still possible. The likelihood of going to trial and the increasing expenses can sometimes prompt the at-fault party’s insurance company to propose complete and equitable compensation.

Factors That Lead to a Trial

While a personal injury case will proceed to trial if the parties fail to reach a fair settlement, certain factors increase the likelihood of this outcome.

Disagreement on Liability

A personal injury case may go to trial if there is a dispute over who is legally responsible for the accident or injury, known as liability. Sometimes, the at-fault party may deny liability and refuse to accept responsibility for your injuries. Illinois is a comparative negligence state. Fault is apportioned to each party. If the at-fault party’s fault is less than 100%, damages are reduced.

In Illinois, if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, he or she receives no money for the case. Disagreements over fault can lead to a stalemate in settlement negotiations and ultimately result in a trial.

Disagreement on Damages

A personal injury case may go to trial due to a disagreement on damages. Damages refer to the financial compensation sought by the personal injury victims for their injuries. The at-fault party’s insurance company might dispute the extent of your injuries or the compensation sought. These disputes can lead to a trial, where a jury will decide the amount of damages to be awarded.

Disagreement on the amount of damages is the most common reason for a personal injury lawyer to take a case to trial.

Your Lawyer Thinks You’re Likely to Win at Trial

Your lawyer needs to consider the option that could provide you with the highest compensation in a reasonable amount of time. Settlements involve compromises from both sides, which means you may receive less compensation than if you were to win at trial. If your lawyer believes your case is strong enough to win at trial, he or she may choose to proceed with a lawsuit.

Your legal team must adjust its strategy as the case progresses. For example, your personal injury lawyer may initially work towards settling a case, but may aim for a trial if new evidence indicates the at-fault party’s responsibility and could secure greater compensation.

Complex or High-Value Cases

In certain personal injury cases, the complexity or higher value may present challenges in reaching a settlement agreement, leading both parties to consider a trial for a fair resolution. Complex cases may involve multiple at-fault parties, severe injuries, or disputed liability. High-value cases may involve substantial financial compensation, prompting the at-fault party’s insurance company to contest the claim.

Failure to Negotiate a Fair Settlement

The at-fault party’s insurance company may refuse to offer a fair settlement amount. Lowball offers can occur if they claim your injuries are not as serious as you say, or if they are trying to save money. If you and the at-fault party are far apart on calculating damages, the case may go to trial.

On the other hand, some cases may not settle because you may have unrealistic expectations and make an unrealistic demand. Additionally, your lawyer may have demanded a number the insurance company felt was too high to spark negotiations.

While disagreements are the most common cause of impasses, there are other reasons negotiations may not be successful. These include:

  • Lowballing – An insurance company repeatedly offers amounts lower than your requested minimum, even after your lawyer presents evidence of the at-fault party’s liability.
  • Threats – An insurance company uses ultimatums to pressure you into accepting a subpar settlement by threatening to end negotiations.
  • Obstruction – A defense attorney attempts to hinder your lawyer’s investigation by requesting irrelevant information, distorting facts, or withholding necessary information.
  • Lack of Response – Insurers must promptly respond to demand letters. If an insurer responds late or not at all, your lawyer may opt to file a lawsuit.

In Illinois, insurance companies are required to promptly and fairly handle claims. If the defense team is uncooperative during negotiations, your attorney may consider proceeding to trial.

The Role of Mediation and Settlement Negotiation

Once legal proceedings are initiated, the personal injury claims process generally follows common steps. Your attorney will investigate the accident, gather evidence to establish negligence, and assess your losses.

Following this, your lawyer will likely request a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company or attorneys. The settlement phase may involve multiple offers and counteroffers until an agreement is reached. Mediation may also be part of the settlement negotiations. This involves a meeting between the parties and their attorneys, facilitated by a neutral negotiator, in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

In personal injury cases, mediation offers an informal and confidential setting, enabling open communication without the pressure of a courtroom. It also allows both parties to actively participate in crafting a resolution.

Moreover, mediation is often less time-consuming and costly than a trial, making it an appealing option for many individuals seeking to resolve their personal injury claims efficiently.

If settlement negotiations are successful, you will receive compensation for your injuries based on the agreed amount by both parties. Most personal injury cases are settled, with recent statistics showing that only 4-5% go to trial.

What Are the Steps in the Trial Process?

In the event that settlement negotiations are not successful, your case will proceed to trial. The typical process of when a car accident goes to trial goes ensues as follows:

Jury Selection

The initial phase of a personal injury trial involves the selection of a jury. Both parties’ attorneys will have the opportunity to question potential jurors and choose a fair and impartial jury.

Opening Statements

After the jury selection, both attorneys will have the chance to present their opening statements. These statements give an overview of the case and outline the arguments of each side. Opening statements serve the following purposes:

  • The plaintiff outlines the details of the accident or injury and the defendant’s purported involvement in causing the plaintiff’s harm, aiming to establish what they intend to prove. This may involve presenting physical evidence or witness testimony to support their case for a civil judgment against the defendant.
  • The defendant’s lawyer provides the jury with the defense’s own perspective on the facts, preparing to challenge the plaintiff’s primary evidence. The defendant also introduces any “affirmative” defenses against the plaintiff’s claims.

Presentation of Evidence

Following the opening statements, the plaintiff’s attorney will present evidence to bolster the case. This evidence could encompass medical records, visual aids, witness accounts, and professional opinions. Subsequently, the defendant’s attorney will have the chance to question the person’s witnesses and present his or her own evidence.

Closing Arguments

After all evidence has been presented, both attorneys will have the chance to deliver closing arguments. These arguments aim to summarize the evidence and convince the jury to rule in their favor.

Jury Deliberation and Verdict

The jury will consider the arguments and reach a verdict, or in some cases, the judge may make the final decision. The verdict will establish whether the party at fault is responsible for your injuries and the extent of damages to be awarded.

With the appropriate legal team for personal injury by your side who understands the most common personal injury claims, you increase your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation for all medical expenses, both current and future, lost wages and reduced earning capacity, pain, suffering, and mental anguish, diminished quality of life, as well as other economic and non-economic damages. To take action, contact us at Shindler & Shindler Injury Attorneys to secure your compensation.

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Keith & Robert Shindler

Keith & Robert Shindler are partners at the personal injury law firm of Shindler & Shindler, Attorneys at Law. The brothers focus their practice on protecting the rights of injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. They take pride in handling every case personally, and delivering top-notch legal services to the people of Illinois.

Years of Experience: More than 65 years of combined experience
Bar & Court Admissions: Active

Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois Wisconsin United State District Court, Northern District Illinois United State District Court, Central District Illinois