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Trial Versus Settlement; Why Collaboration/Settlement May Yield a Better Result

Parties involved in a California legal dispute have several options to resolve their case. Before initiating any formal legal action, you might try to negotiate a settlement directly with the other side. Or, pursuing a lawsuit could be the best approach to resolving the situation. Even after the lawsuit is filed, settlement negotiations, with or without supervision by a third-party neutral, called a mediator, can be productive. If settlement negotiations prove unsuccessful, your only option might be a trial.

About 80% to 92% of all cases are settled before trial. However, the likelihood of settlement depends on the parties and the lawyers involved and may not possible due to public posturing, an aggressive attitude, attorneys who promote their reputation as a fighter in the courtroom, or just not understanding how settlement works.

At Evans Kingsbury LLP, we have decades of experience in civil litigation. We know that litigation is expensive, time-consuming, and lengthy. We will work with you to discuss the costs and benefits of litigation every step of the way. Good preparation of a client’s case may lead to a good settlement and is absolutely essential if your case goes to trial.

Benefits of Settlement

    The vast majority of cases settle before trial in California because settlement often provides the best outcome for both sides to a legal dispute. Here are a few reasons you should consider resolving your case through settlement:
  • • The process is usually more civil, less complex, and faster.
  • • The informal setting can be less emotional and provide more privacy in a comfortable setting.
  • • Settlement can be less expensive, especially early in the case.
  • • A formal trial can be scary — appearing in public, testifying on the witness stand, exposing your private lives to strangers, children may be involved, and publicity is a possibility.
  • • You can protect the most important aspects of your case and choose what to give up as opposed to a judge or jury deciding everything and awarding whatever they determine is fair.
  • • The parties can choose a neutral third-party who is specially trained in resolving cases. They can also choose a neutral with experience in the area of law the case involves.
  • • If the resolution is binding, once a decision is rendered, both parties can move on without lingering legal issues.
  • • Settlement encourages civility since both parties must cooperate to reach a reasonable settlement together.
  • • With a reasonable settlement agreement, you know the outcome of your case, while no lawyer can ever guarantee the outcome of a trial.

Especially in family law cases, the parties should always consider settling their disputes out of court, because the family must live with the outcome for a long time. If a judge has to make the decision, he or she may make a decision your family finds difficult to live with.

Settlement Disadvantages

    Every legal decision carries good and bad implications. Here are a few negative settlement considerations:
  • • Litigants will not get their day in court.
  • • Every settlement requires give and take. Some parties believe they deserve 100% and the other side should pay all. Lawyers have an old joke: A good settlement is one where each side walks away a little unhappy.
  • • You might accept less in payment or have to pay more than you think is fair.
  • • You have no chance to change your mind or request an appeal if you have second thoughts after settling a case.

At Evans Kingsbury LLP we are fierce advocates for our clients, but we also understand the many benefits of settlement, where appropriate. Let us explain your options so you can make the best decision possible for your specific situation. Call us today at (707) 596-6090 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment to discuss your legal rights.

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