This is often a very complicated question. Before deciding whether or not to settle your claim outside of court or filing a lawsuit, you should discuss your case with a professional. Usually, it’s best for you to settle your case out of court as litigation can be very expensive. After a case goes to court, you will likely need experts and doctors to offer testimony who will charge for their time. Insurance companies will likely be paying a lawyer by the hour. The is usually enough financial incentives to make sure the case gets settled before going to trial.
Ambiguity Leads to Trials
There are some cases, however, where going to trial is necessary. More often than not this happens when key elements of the case are a little bit ambiguous and both sides can’t agree. Perhaps both sides can’t agree on which side party is at fault for the accident. Or perhaps there was an aggravation to a pre-existing condition which is less straightforward than a new injury. When there is this type of disagreement to the facts of the case then going to trial becomes much more likely because the values that each party assigns to the claim will vary widely.
Understanding Comparative Fault
If the disagreement is about fault, here’s an important question to ask. How much fault does the defendant bear? Kansas is a comparative negligence state. That means as long as the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault for the accident, they can still recover damages, but the recovery is reduced in proportion to the fault. If a jury finds the defendant is 75% at fault then he is obligated to pay 75% of the damages. This means that if you can demonstrate to a jury that the other party was more at fault than you were for the accident, it might still be worth taking the case to trial particularly if the settlement offer from the insurance company is extremely low. But of course, the question is not how much you think the other party is at fault, but given the facts, how will a jury evaluate fault.
The final decision of going to trial comes down to evaluating the cost of trial to the potential gains. There are a very complex set of factors at play when making this evaluation, and you should not try to make this decision without consulting an experienced legal professional. You can also download our free book, Every Person’s Guide to Saving Thousands of Dollars: Your Auto Accident Claim. It is a very helpful resource for auto accidents claims, and it can help you decide what to do next.
This article is written by Matt Patton. Matt is the youngest Patton boy, a father of two, and a legal assistant at our firm. Though the content of this article is reviewed by a lawyer, this nor any post should be viewed as legal advice. For legal advice concerning your particular situation call our office.