What to Consider With an Out of Court Settlement

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When a plaintiff is offered an out-of-court settlement, it’s usually because the defendant wants to avoid going to trial. Whether to accept a settlement offer is a big decision for a plaintiff. They must decide if it is better for them to accept what has been offered, or reject it and let their case be decided by a judge and jury. A plaintiff needs to know there are advantages and disadvantages to accepting or rejecting an out-of-court settlement. A plaintiff’s goal for a case will play a significant part in determining how they wish to proceed. Some may just want compensation, others may want to expose a defendant’s wrongdoing to the public and more.

ADVANTAGES OF ACCEPTING A SETTLEMENT

Decreased Stress

A lawsuit is a stressful experience as well as time-consuming. A plaintiff will be required to appear before strangers and talk about their case many times. It may be necessary for them to appear more than once during the litigation process. An out-of-court settlement will permit a person to move on with their life. They can avoid the expense and stress associated with a trial.

Predictable Payment

Accepting a settlement involves receiving a predictable sum of money. When a plaintiff decides to go to trial; they may not do as well with a jury’s decision. The results of a jury trial are always unpredictable. They may decide a plaintiff’s compensation should be less than the settlement offer. Once this is done, there is no way to change it.

Reliving Experience

In many situations, the accident or incident that occurred to create the legal action was traumatic for the plaintiff. When accepting an out-of-court settlement, a plaintiff will not have to relive the experience during depositions, at trial and more.

Finality

It’s important for a plaintiff to realize if a court provides them with a decision that benefits them; the defendant can appeal the decision. This can make the time involved with obtaining a fair settlement stretch into years. During this time, the expenses associated with the trial can increase significantly. Accepting a settlement offer ends the case.

DISADVANTAGES OF ACCEPTING A SETTLEMENT

Purpose

Every case has a unique set of circumstances. It is possible for a lawsuit to be filed for personal reasons. Many plaintiffs believe their case deserves public awareness. It is serving an important purpose beyond a settlement. If an out-of-court settlement offer is accepted, the issues surrounding the case may never be noticed by the public.

Public Record

Trials are part of the public record. In some cases, a plaintiff may consider this a positive aspect of their case. If the plaintiff wants the incident and their life associated with it to be open to the public, an out-of-court settlement will prevent this from happening.

Punitive Damages

When a plaintiff accepts a settlement offer; the defendant will not have to pay punitive damages. These damages awards are given in cases where the behavior of the defendant was so egregious, a judge or jury decides they need to be financially punished. An out-of-court settlement will enable a defendant to not pay any punitive damages.

No Further Legal Action

If the results of an accident or other incident cause a plaintiff harm in the future; they won’t be able to obtain any further compensation. This is because when a plaintiff accepts an out-of-court settlement; they give up their right to pursue further legal action against the defendant.

Deciding whether to accept an out-of-court settlement will have a major impact on a plaintiff’s life for a long time. This decision should always be made after discussing it with an experienced attorney. They will be able to carefully analyze a case. A knowledgeable attorney will know what a plaintiff can expect in a settlement as well as if they decide to go to trial. They will work with a plaintiff to obtain the desired result.

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