Should You Settle or Go to Court After an Accident?

In the unfortunate instance that you have an accident in a public place that causes injury, compensation may be available. If you choose to pursue compensation, this is referred to as a public liability claim. Each individual situation is different, and the amount of compensation possibly claimable will differ depending on the specific circumstances of your accident.

Some of the most common locations where public injuries occur leading to public liability claims include:

  • supermarkets;
  • recreational activities;
  • sporting events;
  • schoolyards;
  • shopping centres;
  • car parks.

Following an accident, basic everyday living tasks that were once simple may become difficult to perform, and the more arduous tasks such as work may become almost impossible. In most cases, the negligent party will offer a monetary settlement if they acknowledge liability and believe that their defence will not succeed in court. You can accept this settlement or, if you believe the amount to be less than you should receive, embark on the alternative – a course through the various stages of litigation. If you find yourself in a similar situation and are debating this decision, there are a few factors that should be considered.

The size of the settlement and the strength of the case

If you’re unable to convince a judge of the merits of your claim in litigation proceedings, there is the possibility of incurring significantly high legal expenses. This is often the reason settlements are considered a preferable option.

But if you feel that a duty of care owed to you was breached, and that the opposing party has offered an insufficient amount of compensation, then litigation to secure an appropriate amount might be a better option.

It is crucial you ask yourself important questions such as whether or not your actions might have contributed to the injuries you suffered. Continuing through to litigation also requires a high degree of patience as proceedings can be quite lengthy. During this time, when you may be unable to work, you will obviously continue to incur medical bills, which may be reflected in the final compensation amount should you be successful. But cases can take 18 months or even longer to process.

The pay-out and time limits

The total amount of compensation will be made up of both economic and non-economic losses that are a result of the accident. These can include:

  • loss of income and superannuation payments;
  • medical and hospital costs;
  • past and future care arrangements;
  • pain and suffering.

Even quite minor injuries can result in high compensation payments, some in the tens of thousands of dollars, whereas more serious injuries can result in payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

Usually, ‘no-win, no-fee’ lawyers are the best option for public liability cases so that legal costs don’t need to be repaid until after the claim is successfully resolved. Most often, there is a time limit of three years after an accident to claim compensation for the injury incurred. Cases might require the testimony of a witness to help establish the factual circumstances of the case, another reason to kick start the claim as soon as possible.

Legal advice

Legal advice is always recommended. A legal expert can provide impartial, third party advice and make sensible decisions on behalf of clients based on the facts. A legal professional can also take a client through the potentially long and tiring process, as well as help to identify how much compensation might actually be achievable. If you find yourself in a situation where you might be eligible to make a public liability claim, contact an experienced legal professional today.