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Should You Go to Trial or Accept a Boat Accident Settlement?

After being injured in a boating accident, the party at fault (or his or her insurance company) may contact you to offer a boat accident settlement. This settlement is intended to compensate you for your injuries. In exchange, you would agree not to sue the responsible party. But how can you know whether to accept a boating accident settlement or go to trial?

Types of Compensation in a Boating Accident

If you were injured in a boating accident that was someone else's fault, the law allows you to collect damages, or money to compensate you for your injuries. This money is designed to reimburse you for:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills for treatment related to your boating-accident injuries
  • The repair or replacement of your boat or any property that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
  • Lost wages for time off from work (including time spent going to doctor's appointments and physical therapy)
  • The cost of hiring someone to do household chores you're unable to do because of your injury
  • Permanent disability and disfigurement stemming from the boating accident injury
  • Emotional distress stemming from the boating accident
  • Any other costs you've incurred because of the accident

Before you discuss your injuries or settlement offers with the party at fault, or their insurance company, talk to a boating accident lawyer. An attorney with experience handling boating accidents can help you come up with a reasonable and fair estimate of the long-term cost of your accident-related injuries.

Evaluating a Boat Accident Settlement Offer

Your lawyer can help you negotiate a reasonable boat accident settlement and decide whether to accept the settlement or go to trial. It's important to remember that each choice has its pros and cons.

Accepting a Settlement

  • Pros: Resolves your case more quickly than if you went to trial; some or all of the settlement money is available immediately and can be used to pay accident-related bills; allows you to move on emotionally after the accident; may result in lower attorney's fees and expenses; allows the certainty of knowing how much money you'll receive; any agreement you reach with the other party can remain private
  • Cons: May have to accept a smaller financial award in exchange for quickly resolving your case; may not have the same emotional satisfaction of a court judgment in your favor

Going to Trial

  • Pros: There is a chance (but not a guarantee) you'll receive a much larger award than if you settled the case; may be more emotionally satisfying than a settlement if you win the case
  • Cons: There is no guarantee that you'll receive a larger financial award than if you settled your case (and no guarantee that you'll even win your case); may result in higher attorney's fees and expenses; the verdict and judgment will be publicly available; can take a year or more to resolve

Ultimately, it is your choice to settle your boating accident case, but you should at least consider your attorney's advice. An experienced boat accident attorney should be able to give you a fairly accurate estimate of how much your case could be worth if you go to trial and whether it makes more sense to settle or litigate.