When Should A Personal Injury Case Be Settled?

When Should A Personal Injury Case Be Settled?

Plaintiffs in personal injury cases should settle out of court when the at-fault party is willing to and offers a fair settlement. As the injured party, they must feel the proposed settlement offer adequately covers their medical costs, lost income, as well as their pain and suffering. 

However, negligence can be difficult to prove. Where a defendant feels they are not entirely liable or that other parties as partly liable, they may not be motivated to pay the full cost of the settlement. They may even choose to take their chances at trial. 

Everything else considered, though, settling out of court is usually in both parties’ best interests:

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    Why A Settlement May Be Good For Both Parties

    There is a good reason why an estimated 90 percent of personal injury cases settle out of court in Ontario. Personal injury trials can be extremely stressful and are usually expensive. 

    Trials are especially expensive for defendants who typically pay their lawyers an hourly rate. The trial itself will not start until after a year and even after it starts, it may drag on for a few more years. Meantime they are paying their lawyer. There are also costs for hiring expert witnesses to account for, as well as court fees and general expenses like fuel.

    For the plaintiff, a trial can be quite costly too. While you won’t have to pay your lawyer up front as they will get a percentage of whatever the court will award as compensation, you have to cover your transport, food, and other administrative costs. 

    Let’s not forget that the trial outcome itself is not guaranteed to be in your favor. The defendant may successfully argue they are not fully at fault. It is not uncommon that a plaintiff may be awarded a lower compensation than the settlement offer they turned down. 

    Even when the court finds in your favor and awards you the compensation you want, the defendant may appeal the decision and drag the matter on for a few more years. With your life literally on hold and possibly out of work and with medical bills to pay, life can get quite miserable. 

    So settling out of court has many advantages for both the injured and the at-fault party. And the faster you can get this sad chapter behind you the sooner you can rebuild your life. That said, it does not mean you should accept any offer that is made:

    What Is A Good Settlement Offer?

    The rule of thumb in personal injury cases is not to accept the first settlement offer the defendant or their insurance company makes. Their willingness to settle means that, firstly, they accept liability and, secondly, that they know there is a chance you can get a hefty compensation at trial. By settling, they know they won’t have to accept liability and may pay a lower compensation.

    That said, when a settlement offer comes, it isn’t the cue that your chances are good and that you should go to trial. It means that there’s room to negotiate. It is also at this point that you should trust your lawyer and let them take the lead. 

    When your lawyer finally advises to accept a settlement they usually have very good reasons. Remember, since they will get a percentage of whatever you get, they are just as motivated as you to get you a high settlement. Also, you will not get a better settlement because someone you know got a million dollars. 

    Case facts are always different and those are what determine how much settlement money you can get. There are also statutory and case law limits. So if the offered settlement ‘makes you whole again,’ it is wise to settle. If you go to court, anything can happen, quite literally.


    De Sa & Associate are personal injury lawyers in Toronto. We make sure our clients get the support they need to recover physically, emotionally, and financially. Contact us today for a consultation.

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