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Why do some personal injury cases go to trial instead of settling?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Catastrophic Injuries |

Texas state statutes allow those harmed by the actions or negligence of another person or a business to take the matter to civil court. Personal injury lawsuits are one of the more common reasons that people find themselves in court in Texas. Slip-and-falls, drunk driving car crashes, distraction-related car crashes, wrongful deaths and product defect claims are all common types of personal injury lawsuits pursued in the Texas civil courts.

Every year, there are a huge number of lawsuits filed in Texas, and the vast majority of them settle instead of going to trial. In 2021, for example, there were roughly 6.9 million personal injury lawsuits filed in the Texas state courts, and settlements or judge dismissals ended around 6.5 million of those cases. Why do some personal injury lawsuits end up at trial while most others settle?

Unreasonable offers

Perhaps the defendant has representation provided by their insurance company, and the focus is almost exclusively on someone’s insurance policy limits. Any settlement negotiated might be far lower than what someone actually requires, forcing them to go to court to seek more than what insurance can provide. Business defendants and those expecting insurance to cover the costs of the claim may be particularly aggressive about offering low settlement offers that fail to cover someone’s expenses.

A denial of responsibility

Sometimes, cases go to trial because the defendant won’t admit that they made a mistake or broke the law. They insist they did nothing wrong and refuse to settle. The case may need to go to court for the plaintiff to have any chance of recovery.

A desire for culpability

Civil litigation isn’t always about financial compensation, even though compensation may be an important aspect of a lawsuit. The need to have the courts affirm that someone else was responsible for an incident may drive a plaintiff to reject all settlement offers. Particularly when there was wrongful conduct or gross negligence involved, the plaintiff bringing the case may desire closure and a court ruling declaring the other party at fault as much as they want financial compensation. Family members pursuing wrongful death lawsuits, for example, are often eager to go to trial to expose the wrongdoings of the party that caused their tragic loss.

Preparing for trial even as one is negotiating for a settlement is often the most realistic strategy for those seeking appropriate compensation and closure through a lawsuit in Texas. Seeking legal guidance can help to ensure that both options are viable.