A personal injury case is a legal dispute that arises when a party suffers harm from an accident or injury and seeks to hold another party legally responsible for that harm. This type of civil dispute is usually resolved in one of the following ways:
- Informal settlement. Most personal injury cases settle before going to trial, an estimated 95-96 percent in the U.S., according to The Law Dictionary. These cases are usually resolved fairly early in the process by the parties, their insurers, and their attorneys. Informal settlement is typically achieved through negotiation, followed by a written agreement in which both sides agree not to pursue any further legal action, choosing instead to resolve the dispute through the payment of an agreeable sum of money.
- Alternative dispute resolution. The middle ground between settlement and litigation is alternative dispute resolution, which includes mediation and arbitration. Arbitration proceeds when the parties to the dispute present their case to a neutral third party called an arbitrator, who makes a final decision, which may or may not be binding. Mediation is an informal, confidential, and nonbinding way for parties to resolve disputes with the help of a mediator. Unlike arbitration, the mediator does not decide who is right or wrong, but instead helps the parties work out their own solution.
- Formal lawsuit. A formal personal injury case starts when the injured person (plaintiff) files a civil complaint against another party (defendant), alleging that their careless behavior caused the plaintiff to suffer harm. The main reason that most cases settle out of court is the desire to avoid the substantial expense involved in litigation, most of which can be reduced or eliminated entirely by settling the case before trial.
An experienced personal injury attorney will guide you in all aspects related to your case, including the best way to resolve it.