By Joshua Levin-Epstein, Esq. and Emily Collins, Intern
Going to trial is not the only option….
Typically, most legal disputes result in a settlement in order to avoid an exhausting, uncertain, and often bitter trial. A settlement is a type of formal dispute resolution that avoids leaving the outcome of your case in the hands of a judge or a jury and instead allows the outcome to be mutually agreed upon between two parties. In simpler terms, a settlement is a compromise between two respective parties. A settlement can occur at any point throughout the legal dispute process, even before a lawsuit is filed.
There are several advantages to settle as opposed to going to court…
- Expense and Time
First and foremost, settling is much more cost effective than going to trial. Settling decreases the expenditures of going to court which includes additional attorney fees, expert witness fees, and travel expenses. In addition to the monetary benefits, settling is a simpler and quicker process than going to trial. Instead of getting tangled up in a lengthy court proceeding that can last several years, a settlement can be quick and easy, as long as both parties cooperate.
Most court proceedings are public record, which means your personal testimony and information is too. On the other hand, a settlement remains confidential which is crucial to businesses that do not want to harm or taint their reputation from any legal dispute.
Play it safe or risk it all?
It is much easier for an experienced lawyer to gauge and control the outcome of a settlement. In court you are leaving an important decision in the hands of an unpredictable judge or a jury. Settling provides not only certainty, but also control over how much the defendant has to pay and how much the plaintiff receives.
Any court ruling can be appealed, which means that the dispute process can be dragged out beyond the available time and resources. A settlement cannot be appealed, so the agreement between the two parties is final. The final determination of a settlement also ensures that the plaintiff receives his/her money quicker than going to court.
Things to look out for…
- The strength of your case: It is important understand where your case stands. This can ultimately help you determine whether you are better off settling as opposed to going to trial. Always pay attention to the jury verdict and settlement outcomes in similarly situated cases to help you better understand your likelihood of success through settlement or trial.
- The strength of the opposing party: It is also imperative to recognize where the other party stands in terms of facts, evidence, and even company size. Keep in mind that you might think you have a strong case, but you must examine your case relative to your opponent in order to determine whether it is best to settle or not.