The chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit vary depending on factors that differ from case to case. Except for one: you have the best chance of winning your lawsuit if you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your case. Here’s why.
Winning by Settlement
By a wide margin, the first method of winning a personal injury lawsuit — settlement — is the most common. A settlement occurs when the parties to a personal injury case mutually agree to resolve their dispute instead of letting a court do so. In a typical personal injury settlement, the injured party (the plaintiff) receives a payment from the at-fault party (the defendant) or the defendant’s liability insurance company. In return, the plaintiff dismisses any pending lawsuit and agrees to release the defendant or insurance company from further liability.
Reliable statistics are hard to come by, but researchers estimate that somewhere around three-quarters (75 percent) of personal injury lawsuits settle. Those estimates might skew low, however, because they don’t count settlement of personal injury claims before the injured individual has filed a lawsuit, which is common.
Of course, just because a case settles doesn’t mean it did so on terms favorable enough to call it a win for the plaintiff. That’s more of a subjective determination that’s difficult to make from raw data. But as discussed in detail below, hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer maximizes your chances of getting a winning settlement in your case.
Winning at Trial
Research conducted by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) indicates that relatively few personal injury lawsuits end up getting decided in a courtroom trial — somewhere around three percent (3 percent). That said, the data also show that when a case does go to trial, the plaintiff tends to win about 60 percent of the time. That is, on average, a judge or jury decides the case in the plaintiff’s favor, on average, about 6 out of 10 times.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the odds of winning a trial is always 60 percent. The chances of a win vary widely depending on the evidence, the skill of the lawyer, and other factors specific to a given case. And it also doesn’t necessarily mean that in the cases recorded as wins for the plaintiff that the plaintiff was happy with what the jury decided to award as damages.
As above, however, the most reliable way to put yourself in the best possible position to win a personal injury trial is to hire a skilled attorney to handle your case.
Winning by Judgment Without a Trial
The least common way to win a personal injury case, according to NCSC data, is having a judge decide a case in your favor without a trial. It appears that fewer than 1 percent of personal injury cases get decided this way.
Judges have the power to decide a case without trial when the undisputed facts show that one side should win. Either side in a lawsuit can ask the judge to make this determination through a process called summary judgment. This is a rare occurrence in personal injury cases because they tend to involve disputed facts — the plaintiff says one thing happened that led to a injury and the defendant says the opposite, in other words. Those are usually issues that a judge or jury needs to resolve in a trial.
Again, if winning by judgment without a trial is a possibility in your personal injury case, the best way to maximize your odds of that outcome is to have a knowledgeable lawyer handle your claim.
Factors Influencing Your Odds of Winning a Personal Injury Claim
Numerous factors affect the probability of winning your personal injury lawsuit. Here’s an overview of some of the most significant ones.
Skill and Experience of Your Lawyer
As mentioned several times already, hiring a knowledgeable, experienced personal injury lawyer tends to increase your chances of winning a claim significantly. It also happens to be one of the few factors that lie entirely within your control.
The right lawyer for your personal injury case should have:
- Years of experience handling claims like yours
- An established track record of winning cases for clients like you
- The respect and admiration of fellow attorneys and clients
- An award-winning team that can handle every aspect of your claim
- Extensive and accessible resources to keep you informed about your claim
- Convenient office locations and 24/7 availability online to discuss your potential claim
Lawyers with those characteristics tend to give their clients a leg up in every aspect of a personal injury lawsuit. They know how to investigate accidents, identify liable parties, evaluate your damages, handle insurance companies on your behalf, give you sound advice, gather evidence, research the law, prepare strong filings and insurance claims, negotiate top-dollar settlements, and win at trial.
Sometimes, simply having a skilled and respected personal injury on your side can drive your personal injury case toward a favorable settlement, because opposing parties and insurance companies will shy away from going up against them in court. Hiring a top lawyer also sends the message that you’re prepared to win your case no matter what direction it takes, and that the other side can’t count on pressuring you into a settlement.
Experienced personal injury lawyers also work for you on a contingent fee basis. You don’t have to pay them anything upfront to get them started working on your personal injury lawsuit. They only receive a fee if they win your personal injury lawsuit and get you paid.
Strength of Your Case
A winning personal injury claim requires evidence that your lawyer could use in court (if necessary) to prove:
- The defendant had a legally or societally recognized duty not to put the plaintiff in harm’s way (what lawyers refer to as a duty of care)
- The defendant violated that duty through unreasonably dangerous decisions, actions, or inaction
- The defendant’s conduct caused injuries to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff suffered legally recoverable damages as a result
These are the essential elements of almost every personal injury claim. The more evidence that exists to prove them, the stronger your case and the better your odds of winning your personal injury lawsuit.
Experienced lawyers know where to find evidence to support your claim and how to use it to your greatest advantage. They’ve represented dozens, if not hundreds, of people in positions similar to yours, and understand the types of evidence that can tip a case in your favor. Hiring them gives you the benefit of their training and know-how, upping your chances that key video footage, witness testimony, or other powerful evidence will emerge to make your lawsuit a winner.
Number and Resources of Parties Your Personal Injury Lawyer Can Hold Liable
Because winning a personal injury lawsuit means getting the money you need to recover physically, emotionally, and financially after suffering a trauma, it matters how many people a lawyer can hold accountable for your damages and how much they can afford to pay. Finding multiple parties and insurance companies to pursue for payment often increases your chances of a favorable outcome.
That’s not to say that you can’t get significant money out of a single-defendant personal injury lawsuit. That’s certainly possible, especially if that defendant carries lots of liability insurance to cover your losses. But in general, having the ability to pursue multiple defendants, each of whom may carry insurance or have disposable assets, ups your odds of success.
Experienced personal injury lawyers delve into the details to find every party who may owe monetary damages to their injured client. There’s no guarantee they’ll find more than one liable party. But your chances of targeting ample financial resources rises when you have a skilled lawyer in your corner.
Actions You Take After Getting Hurt
You can often bolster the odds of winning your personal injury case by taking some simple steps that protect your rights. Here are a few suggestions.
Get the Medical Care You Need
Seeking immediate medical attention and following your doctor’s recommendations protect your health and well-being. They also constitute two of the most significant steps you can take on your own to improve your personal injury lawsuit’s chances of success.
Going to the doctor creates complete and accurate records of your injury and treatment — critical evidence for your lawyer to prove your claim. It also ensures that a defense lawyer or insurance adjuster won’t be able to argue that you failed to take care of yourself and made your injuries worse.
Avoid Insurance Traps
Numerous insurance companies may have an obligation to pay for your personal injury-related losses. But none of them will want to. And they’ll look for any opportunity they can find to pay you less than what they owe.
One tactic an insurer may use is to ask you to give a recorded statement about your injury. This is always risky. Insurance companies want to get you on tape so they can ask you loaded questions designed to trip you up and get you to say something that will undermine or reduce the value of your claim.
You might have an obligation to give a statement to your own insurer—your lawyer can advise you about that and give you guidance on doing it — but you generally don’t have to talk to someone else’s insurance company. Never agree to give a recorded statement to someone else’s auto insurance company, for example, without first consulting with your lawyer.
Another tactic common among insurance companies hoping to avoid their financial obligations is to offer you a quick, lowball settlement. They try to do this before you have a lawyer, hoping to take advantage of you during a vulnerable time to trick you into accepting less money than a lawyer could get for you. If you fall for this tactic, you could end up with insufficient funds to support your healing and recovery process.
Always let your lawyer handle all negotiations with an insurance company on your behalf. Lawyers speak insurers’ language and know how to force them to pay the maximum compensation available for your losses.
Your rights to compensation for a personal injury come with an expiration date. A law called the statute of limitations puts a time limit on taking legal action for payment. If you miss that deadline you could lose your rights completely.
It’s never too soon for you to contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can take steps to ensure that you don’t miss any critical deadlines. Contacting a lawyer right away also improves the chances that a lawyer will locate and preserve critical evidence to support your case, and that opposing parties and insurance companies will take your claim seriously.
All reputable personal injury lawyers offer a free case evaluation for people who want to learn about their options. You’ll never owe a lawyer for that time even if you decide not to hire them.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you suffered injuries in an accident or incident caused by someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you probably have rights to receive significant compensation. To improve your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit and receiving the money you deserve for your losses, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible for a free, no-risk case evaluation.