There were over 84 million incoming cases in state courts in 2016. With this many cases circulating through state courts, there is a lengthy waiting period before anyone can get their case before a judge and jury. As a result, settlements out of court have become increasingly more common.
Wondering what a settlement is and how it works? Look no further! Read on to learn all about them!
1What Are Settlements Out of Court?
Settlements are an agreement between the parties of a lawsuit that stops the lawsuit from continuing and prevents the plaintiff from pursuing further legal action in regards to that particular case. The plaintiff typically receives a sum of money in exchange for halting the lawsuit.
Settlements can occur at any time during the legal process, but they typically occur after all the parties in the case have been deposed and all the evidence for the case has been collected.
2Why Are They Beneficial?
Settlements are beneficial for parties on both sides of the legal process.
The first reason they are beneficial is that they save a significant amount of time. The backup of state and federal courts means that many people wait years before their case is even eligible to be heard. Trials are also not a guarantee — it is possible that the plaintiff will go to trial and lose and not receive any money at all.
If that sounds stressful, it’s because it is. Many people feel like they can’t move on with their life as long as their case is still pending. Accepting a settlement, even if it’s less than expected, can help plaintiffs gain a sense of closure and move on to the next chapter of their life. It also ensures that the plaintiff receives some money for their damages.
Settlements are also beneficial to the defendants. It allows them to spend less time and money on legal fees and they may pay less than they would have if the case moved on and a jury came back with a higher amount for damages.
3What Is the Process Like?
The process for settlements is basically the same as the traditional path of litigation, it’s just shorter. There will still be a court filing, and your case will move through the courts as if it’s going to trial. Accepting a settlement stops that process.
Many defendants come out with a settlement offer long before the case goes to trial. Your attorney will then be obligated to present that offer to you and you will have the right to counter-offer or outright decline the offer and go forward with a trial.
4When Should You Avoid Them?
There’s no hard and fast rule for avoiding settlements. Your attorney can advise you on whether they think the settlement offer is good, or if you should counter. They may even advise you to take your chances at trial.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you to decide whether you want to settle. If it feels right and you’re tired of the process, then accept and move on. If you want your day in court, move forward with your case.
Follow Your Instincts
When it comes to accepting settlements out of court, you’ll want to rely on your gut instinct. They can save you a significant amount of time and heartache, but they can also result in a lower amount of damages for your case. An experienced attorney can help you decide whether you should accept the settlement or if your chances are better in front of a jury.
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