While courtroom drama may make for great TV, a vast majority of civil lawsuits — around 97% — are settled before they ever go to trial. With such a skewed statistic, there must be some benefit to settling rather than taking a case all the way through a civil trial. So how do you know if it is better for you to settle or litigate? If you know all the factors, you can make a better decision.
Some of the benefits of reaching a settlement before trial include:
- Trials are more expensive
- Trials take more time — sometimes years
- Trials are stressful
- Trials are typically public, while settlements are usually private
- Trials usually determine liability, while a defendant does not need to admit liability in a settlement
However, there are times when a trial can be a necessity; for example:
- When you cannot reach an agreeable solution with the opposing party
- When the issue is highly personal and you feel you must right a wrong
- When you want to affect public policy or challenge the constitutionality of a law
Experience shows that there are several instances when pursuing a settlement is better than going through a lengthy trial:
When you are suing someone close to you. When you have a dispute with family members, business partners, or friends, litigation can be a very expensive way to destroy these relationships. If you feel your relationship is more important than the outcome of a trial, you should seek a settlement in these types of disputes.
When the trial will be more expensive than what you can gain. Doing a cost-benefit analysis can help you determine if the cost of the trial is likely to be more than you would stand to gain if you prevailed in court.
When the outcome is highly unpredictable. Litigation is inherently uncertain. Sometimes extremely so. In that case, it is typically best to settle. The chance of winning must be weighed against the cost of losing, when you could be out your attorney’s fees, the other side’s fees, and a judgment for damages if you are a defendant.
When it is not worth your time. A trial can take over your life fairly quickly, and for an extended length of time if you pursue the issue through retrials and appeals. Whatever side of the issue you’re on, you need to judge if all the expense and effort is a good use of your time.
Williams Mestaz, L.L.P., provides strong legal advocacy for companies involved in business lawsuits. We are known for using our skills, experience, and cutting-edge technology to get great results, whether after trial or through a favorable settlement. Call us today at (602) 256-9400 and schedule an appointment to meet with us about your case.