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Do I Have to Go to Court to Get a Settlement?

If you have been injured as a result of another party’s negligent, reckless or intentional conduct, you do not need to go to court to get a settlement. In fact, settling out of court can be advantageous for many reasons. Legal proceedings are often expensive, time consuming, stressful and drawn out. Leaving your fate in the hands of a jury may also be risky depending on the facts over your case. For these reasons, you may prefer to settle your claim either before filing a civil lawsuit or, if you have already filed a lawsuit, before that lawsuit goes to trial.

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To obtain a settlement out of court you must negotiate with either the person at-fault or that person’s insurance carrier. Once you have reached a settlement, you will be required to sign a full liability release. By signing the release you are giving up your right to file any future claims or lawsuits arising out of the same accident. The terms of any settlement reached should be reduced to writing in the form of a legally binding contract.

If you are unable to reach a settlement out of court, you may need to file a civil lawsuit in order to obtain damages for your injuries. Parties to a lawsuit can reach a settlement at any time before the jury renders its decision. Because litigation is an expensive and often lengthy process, the great majority of personal injury lawsuits settle before going to trial. Parties to lawsuit may even reach a settlement while the jury is deliberating. Once a jury makes a finding as to liability, it is too late to reach a settlement. In fact, a defendant may want to settle outside of court simply to avoid admitting liability. Similarly, the terms of a settlement can be kept confidential whereas court proceedings are made public.

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