Will Your Personal Injury Lawsuit Go to Trial in Pennsylvania?
Many civil lawsuits are filed every day, but not all of them go to a trial. While plaintiffs typically have a right to a trial, there might be legal obstacles to overcome first.
When filing your claims, you might not know whether your case will go to trial, but that is often the goal. You have a right to have a trial heard on your civil claims, but the strength of your case and certain procedural issues might stand in your way. Many personal injury lawsuits do not go to trial because plaintiffs cannot provide sufficient evidence to prove there is a valid legal dispute. Many others encounter procedural pitfalls, such as failure to serve notice to the defendant or missing important filing deadlines. Most civil cases do not go to trial because the parties choose to settle out of court. Whether it is better to go to trial or reach a settlement is entirely up to you, but you should weigh the pros and cons with an attorney before making a decision.
Call The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free case evaluation with our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers.
How Do I Know if My Personal Injury Claim Will Go to Trial in Pennsylvania?
On the one hand, plaintiffs usually have a right to a trial for their civil claims and causes of action. On the other hand, certain legal requirements and thresholds need to be met before a case goes to trial.
Your Right to a Trial
In a way, there is not much of a question of whether your personal injury claims will go to trial. Injured plaintiffs with valid causes of action have a right to litigate civil disputes in court in a trial as long as certain criteria are met. However, this right does not guarantee plaintiffs a trial under any possible circumstance.
Your right to a trial comes with certain caveats. For example, only some personal injury claims may be litigated in court. Depending on your relationship with the defendant, you might be required to go through mediation or arbitration, which could be binding in some cases. This is common in cases involving personal injuries where the parties were under a contract or agreement, as arbitration or mediation are common contractual terms.
Even though you have a right to have your claims heard in court, the court might reject your case under certain circumstances. One common reason for rejection is that plaintiffs do not have standing to sue and therefore do not have a valid cause of action. Our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers can review your case and determine if you have standing to bring your claims. Other possible reasons for rejection are discussed in more depth below.
Strength of Your Case
One threshold you need to meet involves the strength of your claims. Generally, your right to have a trial for civil disputes only extends to valid claims for real causes of action. One hard lesson that some plaintiffs are confronted with is that not all claims are legally valid.
A plaintiff’s injuries might not necessarily give them a valid claim in court. For example, suppose your neighbor recklessly shot several rounds from a handgun in their backyard after a few too many drinks. Luckily nobody was hurt, but you want to sue because your neighbor’s actions were dangerously negligent, and someone in your home might have been badly hurt. While the neighbor’s actions are certainly negligent, you do not have a valid claim because nobody was hurt, and you suffered no damages. Without any injury, there is no valid legal claim.
You also must consider whether you have sufficient evidence to justify your claims and show they are not baseless. When pleading your case, in your initial complaint, you must explain what evidence you have supporting your claims. If you lack sufficient evidence, the court might reject your claims as baseless, and your case will not go to a trial.
Even if you have a valid claim and standing to sue, your case might only go to trial if you follow proper protocol. The first step is filing your case, and you must do this in the manner required by the court. Your initial complaint must contain specific details about your claim, the parties, your damages, and the compensation you want. If your complaint does not meet the required format, it may be rejected.
You also must make sure you are filing your case in the right court. There might be various courts in your county and state, and not all of them have jurisdiction over your claim. An attorney will know which court has jurisdiction over your case and where you must go to file it. If you file in the wrong court, your case will be rejected.
Another important rule is about the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, a personal injury claim usually must be filed no later than 2 years after the accident. If this deadline expires, you might lose your right to file the lawsuit, and your case will not go to trial.
How a Settlement Affects Your Trial for Your Personal Injury Claims in Pennsylvania
One of the biggest reasons many valid personal injuries never go to trial is that the parties choose to reach a private settlement agreement outside of court. In a settlement agreement, the defendant agrees to pay an agreed-upon sum of money to cover the plaintiff’s damages. In return, the plaintiff drops the lawsuit and agrees to waive their right to file the case again. In the end, both parties resolve the matter without having a trial.
Settlements often cut the judicial process short. For some, they are negotiated quickly, and the plaintiff walks away with compensation quicker than if they demanded a full trial. However, the negotiation process can be long and contentious, and sometimes the negotiations break down, and no agreement is reached. In that case, a trial is the next course of action.
Settlements are optional, and you do not have to agree to a settlement just because you entered negotiations. Whether it is better for you to settle or go to trial is up to you, and you should talk about your options with your lawyer.
Call Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers About Your Potential Trial
Call The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free case review with our Bucks County personal injury attorneys.