When pursuing a claim for damages for the injuries you suffered due to a dog bite in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, you may have to decide whether to settle your claim outside of court or take it to trial. While most cases settle out of court, this might not be your best choice. An experienced Norfolk premises liability attorney can assist you in weighing the pros and cons of both options and fighting for the compensation you deserve under Virginia's dog bite laws.
Pros and Cons of Settling Your Dog Bite Case
You should understand the benefits and drawbacks of settling your dog bite claim when deciding whether to accept or reject the insurance company's settlement offer. You need to consider the following:
- Quicker resolution. One significant pro of settling a dog bite case outside of court is that it typically leads to a faster resolution of your claim. Negotiating a settlement allows you to avoid lengthy court procedures, enabling you to receive compensation sooner and move on with your life.
- Certainty of the outcome. By settling, you have control over the final settlement amount. Unlike a trial where the outcome is uncertain, a settlement agreement ensures that you know exactly how much money you will receive, providing a sense of closure.
- Fewer costs. Opting for a settlement often lowers legal fees since the case does not go to trial. This can help you avoid the expenses associated with court proceedings, such as expert witnesses, deposition costs, and court filing fees.
- Acceptance of less compensation. One of the cons of settling your claim is that your settlement offer may be lower than what you would potentially receive in court. However, accepting a lower amount might be preferable if you want to avoid the risks and uncertainties associated with a trial, ensuring a guaranteed payout.
- Final settlement. Once you accept a settlement offer, it is a final decision in your case. You cannot reopen your claim or file a lawsuit if you later discover that your injuries are more severe than you thought.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Going to Trial
Most litigated dog bite cases are settled before they go to trial. However, if the insurance company refuses to offer you a reasonable settlement, you will have a difficult choice to make. Here are the pros and cons of letting a jury decide your case:
- Larger jury verdict. Juries may award higher compensation than the insurance company would offer in a settlement, depending on the circumstances and the extent of your injuries.
- Your testimony. Trial proceedings allow you to share your story of how the dog attacked you and present evidence to the jury. Testifying can be empowering, help you feel heard, and potentially influence the jury's decision.
- Uncertainty of outcome. You face the uncertainty of a trial outcome if you do not settle your claim. Juries are unpredictable. They could award you less compensation than you request or no damages, no matter how strong your case is.
- More expensive. Taking a case to trial can be costlier due to the additional expenses associated with court proceedings. This includes fees for expert witnesses, court reporters, depositions, and attorney fees.