Settlement or Trial, Which is Better?


While lawsuits are made famous by big judgments or notable settlements, there is no default approach that automatically says one type of outcome is better than the other.

Obviously, one of the goals of a personal injury case is recovery in the form of financial resources sufficient to either return the injured to the status quo or compensate him or her for permanent loss.

However, some may feel it’s important to hold a defendant responsible in a public manner to prevent the same behavior from injuring someone else as well. In these instances, a settlement is a non-starter; the goal is either a full admittance of wrongdoing or a judgment. How these aspects work out tends to be case by case.

The Value of a Settlement

In most personal injury cases, a settlement tends to be a bit of a win-win for all involved. The plaintiff gets some amount for recovery while the defendant avoids the cost of trial and the potentially much bigger cost of losing altogether.

Neither side wins everything want, but the goal is to close the case in a way that each side walks away with something that motivates them to settle more than keep fighting.

From a defendant’s perspective, the earlier a settlement can be achieved, the lower the cost in total as well as avoiding trial. For the plaintiff, the longer a settlement can be held off, the more likely the defendant is to offer a higher amount.

But there is a balance and line where at some point both parties just end up in a trial period, without any ability to go back and resolve privately.

Courts gain a benefit as well. If a case settles, it avoids trial, which then makes room and court time for matters that potentially need more attention by the court, such as criminal cases.

The Value of a Trial

In cases where there has been serious harm, and it seems to have been intentional, a trial could produce a serious win as well as much greater recovery and punishment of the defendant. The risk of total loss is much higher, in which case there is no recovery.

Many people pursue trial if they feel they have nothing to lose doing so and the chance to punish a defendant for intentional harm or wrongdoing is strong. The results can be far greater than anything gained in a settlement and, for idealistic concerns, the loss is public and on the record.

How to Choose

An experienced personal injury attorney like those at Killian, Davis Richter & Kraniak PC, and similar firms in Colorado provide the best analysis of which path is better for a given case.

Again, each case is different. And the strengths of the individual case may knock out one option or the other regardless of what the client personally wants. A good attorney will recognize this being the case and will counsel accordingly.

Be aware of firms that will most often recommend settlements, there are lawyers who’re looking for easy money, which settlements do provide in comparison to court. But as we made the point, court is the optimal path in many cases, and you’ll need a lawyer you can trust as your guide through this.

That’s the primary reason Killian, Davis, Richter, and Kraniak P.C. are our recommended attorneys in Western Colorado, they are not what they call ‘settlement mill’ firms that don’t put the client’s need first.


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