The Personal Injury Experts Weigh In.
There can be a lot of misconceptions about how personal injury cases are actually resolved. “We pride ourselves on always being trial-ready, but this doesn’t mean we take every case to trial.”, says Adam Zayed, founder, and managing partner of Zayed Law Offices. To that end, it’s important to explore some common areas of confusion about taking a personal injury case in Chicago to trial, along with how the possibility of going to trial can affect your case.
Do Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?
While some personal injury cases are ultimately resolved in the courtroom, the majority work through a settlement process that is sometimes completed before a lawsuit is ever filed.
A case may end up in court for a variety of reasons. The most common is an inadequate settlement—a settlement that cannot cover the victim’s medical expenses where the insurance company refuses to negotiate further. As insurance companies make their money by rejecting claims, they are constantly looking for reasons to avoid paying.
Because of this practice by the insurance companies, it is crucial to have a personal injury attorney on your side when negotiating your settlement. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to determine if your compensation is suitable enough to cover all of your medical expenses. As there is always the chance of further costs of recovery appearing after you’ve agreed to settle, your settlement amount must reflect your actual costs of recovery.
As mentioned above, most personal injury cases settle long before making it to trial. As a result, many of the cases that do make it to trial are complex and attached to a potentially massive recovery cost. Success in these cases is primarily reliant on an attorney’s ability to build a case, present it to the judge, and make a compelling, evidence-driven argument on the victim’s behalf.
How Is a Personal Injury Trial Different From a Criminal One?
When most people visualize a courtroom trial, they immediately begin thinking about tense scenes from shows like Law & Order.
Personal injury trials in the real world look very different from trials on primetime television. The objective of these trials is to convince a judge or jury that the injured party—or plaintiff—has been injured by the defendant’s negligence. Therefore, the defendant should be held liable for their damages as a result.
Trials are inherently uncertain, and trials that pertain to negligent behavior even more so. Instead of attempting to prove the defendant is guilty of a crime, success in a personal injury trial comes from establishing that the defendant is directly responsible for harm by failing to meet a legal standard of care.
Therefore, a personal injury case in the courtroom depends on proving that the injury would not have occurred if the defendant had been acting more responsibly.
At the heart of these trials is something often called the “cafe-in-chief,” a stage in which both sides present their evidence and arguments to the jury. During this time, the plaintiff’s lawyers may call a variety of witnesses to testify, such as bystanders who were present when the accident took place. Lawyers also use expert witnesses—who are subject matter experts in fields like hospital diagnostic policy or car accident injuries—who will testify about the circumstances and severity of the plaintiff's injuries.
In addition to witnesses, the plaintiff’s lawyers may also use physical evidence, such as medical reports, documents, and photos from the scene. The defense is also allowed to address these claims by introducing evidence of their own.
How Does Going to Trial Affect My Personal Injury Case?
There’s always a degree of risk in taking a personal injury case to trial. However, it’s worth noting that even the most trial-ready lawyers won’t suggest going to trial until after an initial settlement has been offered and negotiated.
Taking a case to trial generally means it will take longer to resolve. On average, settlements are resolved within three to six months, whereas trials can take twice as long.
The biggest difference in a trial, however, is the degree of risk that it poses. It is entirely possible to take a case to trial, commit to a full year of trial proceedings, and walk away empty-handed. That’s why it’s vitally important to choose the right personal injury attorney to represent you.
A Note on Personal Injury Cases at Zayed Law Offices
This article wouldn't be possible without the expertise of Adam Zayed at Zayed Law Offices.
"Zayed Law Offices prepares every single personal injury case as if it will be resolved via trial. This gives us a level of engagement, nuance, and investment in each of our cases that you don’t find in most practices. Since 2009, Zayed Law Offices has been protecting the rights of people who have suffered the injustice of personal injury in Chicago and surrounding areas."