How Often Are Personal Injury Cases Decided by A Jury?
One of the most common questions asked of personal injury attorneys is whether a case will end up in court. Like all answers given by a lawyer, whether or not your case will end up in court depends on the facts of the case. That being said, about 90 percent of personal injury claims are settled out of court. The following factors will affect your case’s chances of being decided in a courtroom.
1. Statute of Limitations
In Montana, you typically have three years from the time of the accident to file a negligence lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that time, you are barred from recovering any damages. Therefore, attorneys often end up filing lawsuits simply because the claim has not settled, and the statute of limitations is almost over.
If you go to an attorney about your case as soon as possible after the accident, you are less likely to end up in court because your lawyer will not be racing the statute of limitations to negotiating a settlement out of court.
The easier a case is the less likely it is to end up in court, because the parties are less likely to need a judge or a jury to determine who was at fault of the accident. If the fault is obvious and easy to prove, the case will settle sooner because the defendant does not want to spend money on a court proceeding they will lose.
The same thing applies to evidence. If there is lots of evidence. The case is less likely to go to trial. If the evidence is non-existent or unclear the defendant will not accept liability without the court ordering it.
4. Difficult Parties
Some cases are going to end up in court because the parties are difficult. It may seem like some parties just want to fight about everything and that they cannot agree on anything without an arbitrator. A judge and a jury is usually that arbitrator unless the parties can work with a mediator.
5. Difficult Litigation
Even after a lawsuit is filed, it can be settled out of court. After discovery and talking to witnesses the parties may come to an agreement. Or if asked by one of the parties, the court could decide that there are no issues of material fact and that the application of the law is all that matters in this case and enter a summary judgment.
In some cases, a case is going to end up in front of a jury because the parties cannot agree on the facts, or there are issues of fact that cannot be dealt with any other way. Sometimes litigation is just difficult. It is designed to be adversarial, but the simpler the case and the more agreeable the parties the more likely you are to reach a settlement without a jury.