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Should you settle a car accident claim or go to trial?

Ever since you were injured in a car wreck with a distracted driver, you've been frustrated. Despite the pain of your injuries, your time lost from work and all the trouble, the insurance company has dragged its heels. They have seemed utterly indifferent to your claim.

You finally hired an attorney to do battle for you. Now the insurance company has finally made an offer, but you're already geared up to take the claim into court.

Is settling your car accident claim a good idea or not? Frankly, there's no hard-and-fast answer to this question because each situation is different. You'll have to make this decision yourself, but here are a few things to consider:

1. The vast majority of injury claims do settle before trial.

Sometimes, the fight with an insurance company is more like a test of endurance: They hope you'll go away, but if you hang on long enough, they'll finally give in. If the settlement is fair, it may not make sense to go any further.

2. It's cheaper, easier and faster to settle most of the time.

If you litigate the case, what you may stand to gain at trial may be offset by the additional expense of legal fees, expert testimony and court costs. Taking a settlement also ends the stress of dealing with your claim and puts money in your hands faster.

3. A settlement is a sure-thing, while a jury verdict isn't.

Juries can be unpredictable. If you have a really good chance at winning at trial, you may be willing to take the risk -- or you may decide that there are some weaknesses in your case that could be problematic.

Talk the issue over with your attorney, but make sure that you're comfortable with the decision before you proceed. Remember that every car accident claim is different, so you can't base your decision off anything but the specifics that are particular to your case.

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