Settlement vs. Trial: Which Is Right for Your Civil Case?

When facing a civil lawsuit, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether to settle the case or take it to trial. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on the specifics of your situation. In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between settling and going to trial to help you understand which might be the right path for your case.

What Is a Settlement?

A settlement occurs when both parties agree to resolve the dispute without going to trial. This usually involves negotiations where each side makes concessions to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Settlements can happen at any stage of a case, even before a lawsuit is formally filed.

Advantages of Settling

  1. Cost-Effective: Settling a case is generally much cheaper than going to trial. Legal fees and other related costs can add up quickly if your case goes to court.

  2. Time-Saving: Trials can be lengthy, sometimes taking months or even years to conclude. Settling can provide a quicker resolution.

  3. Certainty: Settlements provide a guaranteed outcome, whereas trials are unpredictable. You know exactly what you’re agreeing to and what the other party will do.

  4. Privacy: Settlements are usually confidential, whereas trials are public. This can be important if you want to keep the details of the case private.

Disadvantages of Settling

  1. Potential for Lower Compensation: In some cases, you might receive less money through a settlement than you might have been awarded by a jury.

  2. No Admission of Fault: Typically, settlements do not involve an admission of wrongdoing by the other party, which can sometimes be an important aspect of closure for the plaintiff.

What Is a Trial?

A trial is a formal judicial process where both sides present their case in front of a judge and possibly a jury. The judge or jury then makes a decision based on the evidence and arguments presented.

Advantages of Going to Trial

  1. Possibility of Higher Compensation: If you win, a jury might award you more in damages than you could achieve through settlement negotiations.

  2. Public Vindication: A trial can provide a sense of justice and public acknowledgment of wrongdoing, which can be important for some plaintiffs.

  3. Setting Precedent: Trials can set legal precedents that might help others in similar situations.

Disadvantages of Going to Trial

  1. Expensive: Trials are often very costly due to attorney fees, expert witnesses, and other expenses.

  2. Time-Consuming: The trial process can be long and drawn out, causing stress and disruption to your life.

  3. Uncertainty: There is no guarantee of winning at trial. The outcome is in the hands of the judge or jury, and it can be unpredictable.

Which Option Is Right for You?

Deciding whether to settle or go to trial depends on various factors, including the strength of your case, your financial situation, and your personal preferences. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How strong is your case? If you have strong evidence and a solid case, going to trial might yield a higher award.

  • Can you afford a trial? Consider the financial and emotional costs of a lengthy trial.

  • What is your goal? Are you seeking monetary compensation, or is public acknowledgment of wrongdoing important to you?


Both settlements and trials have their pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your unique circumstances. It’s crucial to discuss your options with an experienced attorney who can provide guidance based on the specifics of your case.

If you’re facing a civil lawsuit in Columbia, SC, and need expert legal advice, contact Bailey Law Firm today. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you navigate the complexities of your case and determine the best course of action.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should contact a qualified lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.