Statistically, approximately 95% of all cases are settled before verdict. There are, of course, exceptions to that general rule. In medical malpractice cases , for example the rule is flipped upside down and most do not settle. In nearly every personal injury case, the ultimate amount of money that an insurance company or defendant is willing to pay is usually based on how much a jury would be likely to award.
Whether you are handling a matter on your own or hiring an attorney to do so, it is critical to evaluate the factors that affect compensation and to appreciate what the jury would be likely to award.
These factors include:
- the jurisdiction in which the case will be brought,
- the strength of the liability side of the case,
- whether favorable evidence will be admitted,
- whether unfavorable facts will be excluded,
- and what the elements of damage are available to be claimed.
In some cases, there may be little choice in making a jurisdictional decision.
However, in other cases, there are choices and the amount of compensation might vary considerably depending on the choice made. In recent years there has been substantial information placed in the media by organizations who want to limit the amount of damages that a victim would be legitimately entitled to receive. These organizations claim that we need tort reform due to the amount of frivolous law suits that are filed. Unfortunately, juries have considered this kind iinformation in deciding cases. In many jurisdictions, that has made fair setlements more difficult. A jury should decide a case only on what the Court determines is admissible. Jurors are twelve people (six in Federal Court) drawn from the community in which they reside. They are supposed to judge the case on the facts that are admitted in Court, however, their judgment is going to be influenced by their personal background and feelings, as well as the reliability of the plaintiff and his witnesses in testifying.
In Illinois, compensation may be affected by the victim’s actions and whether they contributed to the injury. An injured party has the responsibility to have taken precautions to protect their own safety. That means that any verdict may be reduced by the percentage of fault that the jury finds the injured party to have contributed to the accident. However, if the injured party’s fault is more than 50% the cause of his or her injury, then the injured party gets nothing.