Will I have to go to trial for my case in Virginia? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Whether you’ll have to go to trial for your personal injury case depends on various factors, including the nature of the case, the extent of the injuries, and the negotiation dynamics between the parties involved. The following are some of the factors that come into play in determining that outcome:

Settlement Negotiations

Many personal injury cases are resolved through settlement negotiations before ever reaching trial. In fact, most personal injury cases are settled out of court. Settlement negotiations typically involve the injured party (plaintiff), their legal representation, and the at-fault party’s insurance company or legal representation. Both sides negotiate to reach a mutually agreeable settlement amount without the need for a trial.

Strength of Evidence

The strength of the evidence plays a significant role in determining whether a case goes to trial. If there’s clear evidence establishing liability and demonstrating the extent of your injuries, the opposing party may be more inclined to settle rather than risk an unfavorable outcome at trial. Conversely, if there are disputes over liability or the severity of injuries, it might be more challenging to reach a settlement, increasing the likelihood of a trial.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage also impacts the likelihood of going to trial. If the at-fault party’s insurance policy provides adequate coverage to compensate for your injuries and damages, they may be more willing to settle the case to avoid the uncertainties and expenses associated with a trial. However, if there are coverage limitations or disputes over coverage, it could prolong the legal process and increase the likelihood of going to trial.

Legal Representation

Your choice of legal representation can influence whether your case goes to trial. Experienced personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and negotiation skills to advocate for your best interests during settlement negotiations. They can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case, advise you on the potential outcomes of going to trial versus settling, and help you make informed decisions based on your priorities and objectives.

Statute of Limitations

Each state has a statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit. In Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is typically two years from the date of injury. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful and the statute of limitations is approaching or has passed, you may have no choice but to proceed to trial to preserve your legal rights. Failing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations could result in your case being dismissed.

Complexity of the Case

Complex personal injury cases involving multiple parties, disputed liability, or significant damages are more likely to proceed to trial. In such cases, reaching a settlement agreement may be more challenging due to the complexity of the legal issues involved. Trials provide a forum for presenting evidence, examining witnesses, and resolving disputes under the supervision of a judge or jury.

Client Preferences

Ultimately, the decision of whether to go to trial rests with the client. Your attorney should discuss your options with you, including the potential benefits and risks of going to trial versus settling. Factors such as the amount of compensation offered in settlement negotiations, your willingness to endure the trial process, and your confidence in the strength of your case can influence your decision.