The Pros and Cons of Settling vs. Litigating a Personal Injury Claim After a Drunk Driving Accident
If an intoxicated driver crashes into you and causes bodily harm, you have the right to sue them for damages, outside of any criminal charges they will face. When deciding whether to settle a drunk driving injury case or take it to court, there are several pros and cons which you should consider. We will unpack each option so you can discuss your next steps with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer.
Settling a Drunk Driver Injury Claim
Most personal injury lawsuits do not go to court – they usually result in a pre-trial settlement. There are both positives and negatives to this option.
The Pros of a Settlement
Settling a claim out of court is the safer option of the two. All parties involved will have a discussion with the help of legal counsel and may potentially come to an agreed-upon settlement that the at-fault party (but usually their insurance company) agrees to pay to the injured person. The advantages of this process include:
- You are less likely to have any surprises – Settling out of court is much more straightforward. Once an agreement has been made, you should expect to receive that specified compensation.
- You will likely resolve your case faster – Courts can be unpredictable and going to trial requires intense preparation. Additionally, a court has lengthier processes, such as jury selection, presentations of evidence, and deliberation.
- You can save some money – Since going to court requires more time and preparation from a lawyer, the attorney’s fees will be higher.
The Cons of Settlement
While there are several positives to settling a drunk driving injury claim out of court, there are also some disadvantages worth noting.
- You could receive less than you deserve – When settling a claim out of court, you must deal with insurance companies that do not want to give you the money you deserve. They will employ delay tactics in the hopes that you will settle for less money because you want to resolve your case.
- There’s no turning back – Out of court agreements are permanent. If your injuries worsen or you discover new injuries after settling, you cannot file suit again to receive more compensation.
Litigating a Drunk Driver Injury Claim
Litigating a claim, or taking it to court, is a much more extensive process. However, it does still have positives and negatives to take into account.
The Pros of Litigation
- You could get more compensation – When a jury decides the amount of damages owed, this number is often larger than what an insurance company will offer you in an out-of-court settlement. You could receive 100% of your damages, or even more money for pain and suffering.
- You could receive punitive damages – Punitive damages are paid when the party at fault injured someone else due to reckless or negligent behavior. Drunk driving is a prime example of this.
The Cons of Litigation
- You could be in for a long process – Given the lengthy nature of trials, court cases can go on for months or even years.
- It can be expensive – Long trials that require significant time and preparation mean lots of legal fees and time away from other activities.
- Once again, court cases are unpredictable – You cannot know for sure what the outcome will be.
- Trials are public – If you are uncomfortable with the details of your personal injury case being public, you can settle your case out of court.
There is no right or wrong way to handle your claim. Litigation might lead to more of a payout, but could be unpredictable and end up costing more of your time and money. Whatever you decide, you can contact us at The Umansky Law Firm to review your drunk driving injury case and help you navigate the legal process moving forward.