You have been injured in an auto, truck or motorcycle accident and you are suffering. You feel as though you are clearly not “at-fault” for causing the accident and you feel as though your life has been forever changed as a result of the injuries you sustained in the accident. You have hired an attorney/law firm that is well respected and known in your community. Additionally, the attorney that you are working with appears sympathetic and certainly experienced. You have inquired of your attorney whether or not he/she believes you have a solid case and the answer has remained a confident “yes”. But the question remains, will your case go to trial?
Trials seem very intimidating and definitely tense on television. After an accident and after your lawsuit has been filed, you are then faced with the real possibility that you could be facing a jury trial in your case. If that happens, it will be YOU who has brought the case and it will be YOU who is essentially on trial.
In Michigan, only 4% of injury cases go to an actual jury trial. That means that 96% of cases are resolved short of a jury trial. Of the 96% of cases resolved before trial, some cases are dismissed out of court for one reason or another but the vast majority of injury cases are resolved or settled.
“Going to Court vs. Going to Trial”
Big difference. The question that is often asked is “will my case go to court”. The answer to that is likely “yes”. However, as shown above, the likelihood of your case “going to trial” is small. What is the difference? When a lawsuit is filed most of the action in the case will take place in your attorney’s office or via ZOOM. The most important thing that will happen outside of court will be your deposition. This is where the opposing attorney(s) have the opportunity to ask you questions. For more details about your deposition, please see my blog about depositions on my website getdavidgetpaid.com.
After a period of time has expired in your case, the judge will require the parties to the lawsuit (that includes you) to appear in court for a settlement conference. The purpose of the settlement conference is for the judge to be able to see whether the case is heading towards settlement or heading towards trial. At a settlement conference, whether it is via ZOOM or at the court building itself, you and your case are in “court”. The judge will continue to demand that the case and the parties return to court until the case is settled. The judge will eventually set a trial date and, if the case is not resolved prior to the trial date, you must appear in court for jury trial.
Why is My Case Going to Trial?
There are some very common reasons why cases end up going to trial:
If an insurance company believes that their insured was not at fault for causing the accident, they will send their insurance company attorneys to trial and ask the jury to return an award of zero since they believe that they are free of any/all liability for the accident.
Where the injuries alleged in an accident are similar to those that the injured party has complained about before the auto accident at issue, this raises red flags for insurance companies. This becomes a “battle of the experts”. It will be your treating doctors versus the insurance company doctors in this very common scenario.
It is important to listen to your attorney and to stay realistic about the value of your case. There is a certain value range that is assigned to your particular injury. However, the value does vary greatly from person to person obviously depending on your situation. You have put your trust in your attorney, if he/she tells you that the settlement amount is proper, you should strongly consider it. Likewise, if your attorney tells you that you should consider going to jury with your case you should also consider that.
Ultimately, It’s Your Call
The injured party is the person who ultimately decides whether or not to settle the case or proceed to a jury trial. The decision is whether or not to take the offer before you or to accept the pressure and risks associated with a jury trial. However, keep in mind, the insurance company has risk as well. You could ultimately obtain a jury verdict in excess of what they are offering. Thus, both sides have significant risk in a jury trial….and this is the reason why 96% of all cases are settled prior to trial.