We’re often told we should never settle. And while that may be true when it comes to love, it’s certainly not the case when it comes to the law. The decision to settle a lawsuit—that is, finding a resolution without taking the case to court—can in fact be the best way to end a legal dispute.
There are several factors to weigh when it comes to settlement and your lawyer is there to advise you on what she thinks it best. Deciding whether or not settling is something you’re comfortable with, however, is up to you. If you’ve launched a lawsuit in the name of social justice, and the whole point is getting your day in court à la Erin Brockovich, then settling is probably not for you.
Only a small percent of cases go to trial. In most cases the option to settle a lawsuit can be a welcome one, as in the situations outlined below.
- Trials are unpredictable
Lawsuits are stressful situations, and trials even more so. There’s no way around that fact. No lawyer can predict with absolute certainty what will happen with your claim once you are in the courtroom. If the settlement offer is a good one then settling and avoiding the courtroom may be your best option. As my dad always said, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
- Time is a concern
It’s no secret that trials can also take a long time—sometimes even years. Maybe you imagined your dispute would be resolved quickly, and since then things have grown more complicated than you ever could have anticipated. If so, proposing to settle a lawsuit could be in your best interest.
- Trials are stressful – and expensive
While you may want your day in court you should always factor in the stress and expense of litigation when deciding on whether to settle or not. The build up to a trial can include things like settlement conferences, discoveries, and preparation that will take up a tremendous amount of your time and resources. Sometimes the best business decision is to settle your case.