The American personal injury law system is dominated by negotiations between claimants and insurance companies. It's a given that the vast majority of cases will not go to trial, with most estimates showing that around 95% of cases will settle.
Notably, that begs some questions regarding what pushes cases into the remaining 5% or so. Here's a look at what influences the odds your case may go to trial.
An Insured Defendant
You've probably seen a lot of TV commercials with personal injury lawyers framing the insurance companies as the bad guys. While the defendant's insurer isn't there to represent your interests by any measure, it's usually a good thing that the defendant has insurance.
First, there's the simple fact that the defendant can afford insurance and thought to pay for it. Second, insurers have a duty to pay all valid claims after an adjuster has performed appropriate due diligence. Third, you'll be dealing with someone, the adjuster, who understands the law and isn't motivated to mindlessly fight. In other words, a personal injury law firm would much rather deal with the relative stability of an insurer than the unpredictability of an individual defendant.
Much of personal injury law is about assembling reports and other forms of evidence. Personal injury lawyers make their pay by knowing what to include in a demand package and how to frame it.
The goal is to provide the insurance claims adjuster with enough information to realize two things. One, a lawyer wants to show that the claim is valid and not fraudulent. Two, they want to convince the insurer that a drawn-out court battle is a losing proposition against an airtight case.
Documentation needs to be relentless and thorough. It's normal for personal injury lawyers to encourage their clients to wait on medical reports, undergo exploratory surgeries, and visit specialists to fully document what has happened.
Every case requires some sort of legally-grounded logic to explain why the defendant is at fault. Some cases are logically simple, such as the standard slip-and-fall accident at a grocery store. The defendant's liability arises from their responsibility to keep a property open to the public safe.
Other cases can be challenging. There might be more than one potential defendant. Also, the defense might disagree with the argument for why they're liable. Some of these cases go to hearings to sort out possible liability, but many of them settle once the judge has ruled on the basic logic of the defendant's liability.
To learn more about your case, talk to a personal injury lawyer.