When Is Going to Trial a Good Idea?

Published on July 9, 2024, by Forbes Law Offices | Personal Injury

When dealing with legal disputes, the decision to take a case to trial is not one to be made lightly.

According to the Harvard Business Review, less than 10% of lawsuits go to court. Doing so (or not) is based on a complex evaluation of various factors, including the strength of the evidence, potential costs, and the likelihood of reaching the desired outcome.

While settling out of court is often the preferred route for its efficiency and cost-effectiveness, there are definitely times when going to trial can be the most advantageous course of action.

Let’s explore when going to trial might be a good idea and some of the reasons why.

Understanding the Stakes of Pre-Litigation v. Litigation

Before we look into the circumstances where a trial may be warranted, it’s important to understand the stakes involved.

A trial is an inherently adversarial process where two parties present their arguments and evidence before a judge or jury. The outcome of a trial can have significant implications for both sides, including financial consequences, reputational damage, and legal precedent.

That’s why the decision to proceed to trial should not be taken lightly, and a thorough assessment of the risks and benefits involved is essential.

When Reaching a Settlement Isn’t Feasible

Settlement negotiations are often the preferred method for resolving legal disputes, as they can save time, money, and resources for all parties involved.

However, there are situations where settling may not be feasible or in the best interests of one or both parties. These could include:

  • Irreconcilable differences in positions
  • Lack of willingness to compromise
  • Setting precedent (A principle that’s considered too significant to concede)
  • Deterrent effect (establishing accountability), as described by the National Institute of Justice

In such cases, pursuing resolution through trial may be the only viable option.

When You Have a Strong Legal Standing

The United States files over 100 million cases in state trial courts and over 400,000 cases in federal trial courts each year, according to the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver.

One of the key considerations in determining whether to go to trial is the strength of the legal position.

If it’s a strong case supported by compelling evidence and legal precedent, a lawyer may be more inclined to proceed to trial, confident in their ability to secure the win.

On the other hand, if the case is weak or lacks solid evidence, going to trial could pose unnecessary risks and expenses without a realistic chance of success. This is why a thorough assessment of the legal merits of the case is essential before committing to trial.

When Preserving Rights and Principles

In some cases, the decision to go to trial is motivated by the desire to preserve important rights or principles. This could involve cases where fundamental legal or constitutional issues are at stake, and settling out of court would compromise those principles.

Parties may choose to go to trial to set a precedent or send a message, even if the immediate financial costs are higher than reaching a settlement.

In such cases, the long-term implications and broader societal impact outweigh the short-term considerations.

When There are Complex Legal Issues

Certain legal disputes involve complex issues of law or fact that may be better addressed through a trial rather than a settlement.

These could include cases with novel legal questions, intricate factual scenarios, or multiple parties with competing interests. In such situations, the adversarial nature of a trial allows for a thorough examination of the evidence and legal arguments, ensuring that all relevant factors are considered before reaching a decision.

While trials can be time-consuming and costly, they provide a forum for resolving complex disputes in a comprehensive manner.

Strategic Considerations That Impact Decisions Whether To Settle Out-of-Court

Another factor that plays a significant role in determining whether to go to trial is strategic considerations.

Parties may strategically choose to proceed to trial to gain leverage in negotiations, force the other party to reveal their hand or exploit weaknesses in their opponent’s case. Factors such as the composition of the judge or jury, the venue of the trial, and the timing of proceedings can also influence the decision-making process.

By carefully weighing these considerations, parties can position themselves for the best possible outcome in litigation.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Pre-Trial Agreements and Trying Cases in the Courtroom

Ultimately, the decision to go to trial often boils down to a cost-benefit analysis weighing the potential risks and rewards.

Trials can be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining for all parties involved. Legal fees, court costs, expert witness fees, and other expenses can quickly escalate, especially in complex or protracted litigation.

However, the potential benefits of going to trial, such as vindication of rights, enforcement of legal obligations, or the opportunity for a favorable judgment, may justify the investment. It’s essential for parties to carefully consider the costs and benefits in light of their specific circumstances and resources before proceeding to trial.

Getting Help in Deciding How To Proceed in Your Case

Deciding whether to go to trial is a complex and multifaceted decision that requires careful consideration.

While settlement is often the preferred resolution to legal disputes, there are instances when going to trial may be the more appropriate course of action, whether you were hurt in a Charleston, WV truck accident, were subjected to child sexual abuse, were harmed due to police brutality, or plan to take legal action for some other reason. Whether driven by strong legal standing, preservation of rights, complexity of issues, strategic considerations, or cost-to-benefit analysis, you must weigh the potential risks and rewards before committing to trial.

By understanding when going to trial is a good idea and conducting a thorough evaluation of the relevant factors, you can make informed decisions that best serve your interests and pursue justice.

If you have questions about which method might work best for you, Forbes Law Offices can help you find the answer.