Clients have two basic and related questions: One, “Will my case settle?” And two, “Will my case go to court?"
Some cases settle without having to file suit. But the majority don’t.
In Washington, a case “goes to court” when suit is filed. Trial is the final act (short of appeal) in a lawsuit.
That doesn’t mean most cases go to trial; quite the opposite. In fact, more than 95 percent of cases resolve without going to trial.
But how do you know when it is the right time to file suit?
Putting aside emergency situations, such as when the statute of limitations is about to run, suit should be filed when the defendant doesn’t make a reasonable settlement offer. If the injured person will receive–or is likely to receive–more by filing suit and going to trial than has been offered in settlement, suit should be filed.
There is a lot of discussion about vindication, making the defendant suffer, public safety, etc. But the real decision-maker in personal injury cases, especially personal injury cases handled on a contingent basis, is money. The real question is, “How can the attorney put the most money possible in the client’s pocket?”
High-minded goals like public safety are fueled and driven by money changing hands. Anyone who thinks that litigation by itself is a legitimate means to champion social goals is naive, uninformed or duplicitous. It’s the result that counts.