What Factors Make Civil Case Settlement Difficult? According to an American Judges Association paper, as many as 97 percent of civil cases filed are resolved without a trial. While some of these claims are dismissed or addressed in other ways, the great majority of cases are settled. The paper also notes that settlement rates are significantly higher for cases with awards that are not driven by jury verdicts.
Civil cases can be settled for a variety of reasons. Plaintiffs may accept a sum of money to resolve their claim, while defendants may be willing to pay what is known as a "nuisance" value to end the lawsuit. In some cases, plaintiffs may be able to recover more through settlement than they could at trial. Defendants may also reach settlements to avoid the costs of litigation, such as attorney's fees.
Plaintiff's attorneys will attempt to predict how much damage a jury might award and try to settle near that figure. If plaintiff underestimates damages, they risk receiving no compensation at all. On the other hand, if plaintiff overestimates damages, they risk receiving a payment far beyond what is necessary to compensate them for their injuries. Attorneys for both parties must also consider whether the potential cost of litigation is reasonable compared to the possible reward.
According to a study published by the American Judges Association, up to 97 percent of civil lawsuits filed are handled without a trial. Estimates range from 80 percent to 95 percent of all cases being resolved through settlement rather than going to trial.
In general, plaintiffs claim that they pursue both jury and non-jury trials because jurors can be unpredictable and may decide not to award any damages if they feel that the defendant is not at fault. Defendants usually prefer the speed of resolving cases through settlement instead of waiting for trials because they do not want to be exposed to liability if they are found not guilty. Jury trials can also be time consuming and expensive for both parties.
There are two main types of settlements: global and partial. In a global settlement, both parties agree to settle the case completely; each side gives up something they believe will help them win at trial. For example, one party may offer to pay the other party $100,000 to avoid going to trial. This means that if the person who was sued felt that she/he could not afford to go to trial but still wanted to resolve the case, she/he would accept the $100,000 offer. If the person refused the offer, the case would proceed to trial where the plaintiff's chances of winning would be very low.
The remaining 3 percent go before juries.
Settlements can include any type of agreement: financial, with penalties or rewards depending on which side prevailed in court; remedial, such as changes to policies or procedures; or even moral, such as apologies and commitments not to re-litigate the issues at stake in the lawsuit.
Generally speaking, settlements are favored over trials because they are less expensive for all involved. Trials require more time and resources from everyone involved, including the parties themselves. Attorneys fees may also be paid out to attorneys who win their cases at trial. However, trials can award larger amounts when damages are high, and they give judges an opportunity to rule on issues beyond the scope of the case. These issues can include questions about public policy, errors in law, or new developments in the law that could affect future cases. Parties often prefer trials because they want to make sure they're treated fairly by the court system, but this is not always possible when you have unlimited funds to spend on your case.
It's important to remember that settlements cannot guarantee a certain outcome.