Settling vs. Going to Trial: Which Is the Best Option for Me?

Settling vs. Going to TrialIf you recently filed a personal injury claim, you may be wondering whether it is better to settle or take your case to trial. The answer to this question depends on what type of outcome you want as well as the amount of time you are willing to invest in your case.

Every individual’s case is unique and different. An experienced attorney will look over the facts and circumstances of your case and help you decide which option may be better for you.

What does settling involve?

When clients decide to take a settlement, this means that they have negotiated with the other party’s insurance company and reached a fair agreement on compensation for their injuries and other losses. Settling occurs before the case ever makes it to trial and possibly even before a lawsuit is ever filed.

In order to start the settlement process, your Vancouver, WA personal injury lawyer creates a demand letter advising the insurance company how much compensation will be sufficient to settle your case,  and why this amount  is fair and accurate. The demand letter will explain your accident and injuries to justify the compensation you are requesting.

After the defendant’s insurance company or attorney reviews the demand letter, they will respond and likely make a counteroffer. This starts the negotiation process, which involves going back and forth to determine an agreed-upon amount. Once an agreement is reached, documents will be signed releasing the defendant from liability in exchange for the financial payment.

The pros and cons of settling

There are several different pros and cons to settlement that you must consider before making a decision about the direction of your case. These include:


  • Settling is much faster than going to trial. Therefore, if you do not want to wait or feel like you do not have time or money to waste, you might choose to accept a settlement.
  • Settling can be less stressful and frustrating than enduring a trial. If you are worried about going before a judge or jury to present your case, settling might be the better option.
  • Settling will save money. Settling a case out of court is typically much simpler and less time consuming than preparing a case for trial, meaning if you settle you will save money on legal fees.
  • Settling typically guarantees compensation. While you do not know what the outcome may be during a trial, you do know that if you are going through the settlement process, you will receive some type of compensation.


  • There is the possibility that you could end up receiving less money if you settle your case. While you won’t know the possible outcome of a trial, there is always the potential that you could get a larger award if you go to trial.
  • Choosing to settle is a permanent decision that cannot be changed, meaning if you have any unexpected medical expenses that emerge once you settle, you cannot go back and request more compensation.

What does going to trial involve?

When going to trial, the attorneys for you and the defendant will present each side of the story in front of a jury or judge. After the jury or judge receives information from both parties, they will make a decision on who is liable for the damages. While this may seem simple and straightforward, the trial process can take several months or even years from start to finish.

There are many costly and time-consuming steps involved when taking a case to trial, including court filings, pre-trial hearings, depositions, witness statements, the discovery process, the opening statements, testimony, closing statements, jury instructions, deliberations, the verdict, and much more. Overall, the trial process can be headache, causing great amounts of stress and frustration, although most (but not all) clients are relieved and happy with the outcome.

The pros and cons of going to trial

Just like the settlement process, there are several pros and cons to going to trial. Some of these include:


  • You may be awarded more money at trial than if you settle out of court–but there is no guarantee. An experienced attorney knowledgeable about litigation will review your case and present you with your options. You may receive a sense of closure or justice that you may not get if you accept a settlement. However, during a trial, there is a possibility that the defendant will be found liable and held responsible for your injuries and other losses.
  • There will be public accountability. While terms of a settlement are not common knowledge, the public can follow a trial and learn of the outcome.


  • Trials can be very time-consuming, sometimes taking months or even years to complete.
  • Trials generally do not guarantee any money. In fact, there is a possibility that the jury or judge could decide that the defendant is not liable for your injuries and award you nothing.
  • Trials can be very costly. Due to the amount of time and effort trials involve, you should expect to accumulate more legal fees if you decide to pursue litigation.

Are you having a hard time deciding whether to settle or go to trial? If so, please contact the experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Philbrook Law Office as soon as possible.  You can count on us to help you navigate the challenging legal process to obtain the best possible results for your case. Fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. Our offices are located in Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA, and we also serve clients throughout Oregon.