Whenever someone thinks of a personal injury lawsuit, they immediately have visions of a crime television show where lawyers battle it out in court to win the day for their clients. While many personal injury lawsuits do make it to a courtroom, many more are usually settled in advance. Both civil and criminal court proceedings can be circumvented by negotiating a settlement between the two parties. But as convenient as a settlement may be, it is not always the right answer.
The purpose of your lawsuit will go a long way towards determining whether or not you decide to settle before it goes to court. In many medical malpractice lawsuits, plaintiffs decide to go to court because they feel that the publicity will help to stop a negligent doctor from hurting other people. This can also be the case in slip and fall accidents where the plaintiff feels that a court proceeding will help to expose a negligent property owner.
If your lawsuit is intended to reap financial gains, then it may be best to settle in advance. Your attorney can let you know if a defendant's offer to settle is acceptable or not, or if you should go to court to get the settlement you deserve. Remember that a settlement means that both parties agree to not discuss the case in public. Even if the settlement offer is substantial, you may want to go to court if you are trying to bring light to a hidden issue.
A settlement offer from a defendant is not an admission of guilt. Many defendants request settlements because the case cannot be discussed in public and the defendant is trying to avoid the publicity. You are not required to accept or deny the first settlement offer the defendant makes.
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Most settlements involve serious negotiations between the attorneys of both parties that will result in a written agreement that is signed by both sides.
If a plaintiff will not accept a settlement from the defendant and negotiations don't work, then the plaintiff may recommend that the two sides enter arbitration. This is a process where a non-connected third-party mediates negotiations from both sides.
There are two types of arbitration process - binding and non-binding. With binding arbitration, both sides present their case to the arbitrator and both sides must accept the decision of the arbitrator as being final. With non-binding arbitration, the two sides can disagree with the findings of the arbitrator and decide that the case is going to court. The results of arbitration may or may not be made public depending on the state you live in.
Whether you decide to negotiate a settlement or go to court with a personal injury lawsuit, you need to hire the services of an experienced and professional attorney. There are many different process involved in a personal injury lawsuit, and you want to be sure that your interests are properly and comprehensively represented.
The decision on whether or not to settle prior to going to court can be a difficult one because you may get less from the court than you were offered in settlement. But if justice is what you are after, then the court system will hear your case and let you know what type of judgement is fair.