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Pros and Cons of Going to Trial

Seth Harris

Last modified on August 28, 2023

In New York personal injury cases, plaintiffs often wonder whether to accept an out-of-court settlement or push forward to a potentially unpredictable trial. This is a pivotal choice, and it’s not a decision to make lightly.

The New York personal injury lawyers at Harris Keenan & Goldfarb have guided countless clients through this critical decision. The right choice often depends on the specifics of a case, and we have extensive experience with both jury trials and out-of-court settlements.

Advantages of Taking a Personal Injury Case to Trial

While you never want to take a personal injury case to trial without first consulting your attorney, trials offer many advantages and potential benefits to injured parties. These include:

  • More Compensation: One of the primary reasons plaintiffs choose to go to trial is the potential for more compensation. Settlements often involve compromises, but a favorable trial verdict can lead to larger compensation awards, especially if the plaintiff has a strong case.
  • Public Accountability: Taking a case to trial brings public attention to the responsible party’s harmful actions. This exposure can motivate companies or individuals to be more careful in the future, possibly preventing future harm to others.
  • Setting Legal Precedents: Winning a trial can set a legal precedent, potentially influencing future cases and decisions. This can be particularly advantageous for cases that challenge existing norms or practices in the legal system.
  • Validation and Emotional Closure: For many injured people, having their day in court provides a platform to voice their grievances and share their story. A public trial can provide emotional closure by acknowledging their pain and suffering.
  • Thorough Examination of Evidence: The trial process ensures that all evidence is thoroughly examined and scrutinized. This can be beneficial for complex cases where the injured party has lots of evidence that strongly supports their claims.
  • Impartial Decision: A jury is composed of a group of people who are impartial to the case’s outcome. Their verdict is based solely on the presented evidence and legal arguments, which results in a fair decision-making process.
  • Motivating Reluctant Insurers or At-Fault Parties: Sometimes, the mere possibility of a trial can pressure responsible parties to offer a fairer settlement, especially if they are keen on avoiding the publicity and expense of a court battle.

Downsides of Taking a Personal Injury Case to Trial

Taking a personal injury case to trial certainly offers some benefits, but it’s also essential to consider the potential downsides, such as:

  • Uncertainty of Outcome: Unlike in a settlement, where both parties have some control over the agreement, the outcome of a trial is unpredictable. Even with a strong case, there’s no guarantee of a favorable verdict.
  • Time-Consuming: Trials can be lengthy affairs, often stretching out for months or even years. This prolongs the case’s resolution, delaying potential compensation and drawing out emotional strain.
  • Financial Costs: Going to trial is typically more expensive than settling a claim. In addition to attorney’s fees, there are costs associated with expert witnesses, court fees, and other trial-related expenses. If the case is lost, the injured party might also be responsible for some of the other side’s legal fees.
  • Emotional Toll: Trials can be emotionally draining, particularly for the person who is pursuing compensation. They may need to revisit traumatic events repeatedly, face cross-examinations, and deal with the stress of public exposure.
  • Public Exposure: Unlike settlements, which are typically confidential, trials are public. This can mean personal details and potentially embarrassing or private information being aired in open court.
  • Risk of No Compensation: If the verdict goes against the accident victim, there’s a risk that they’ll receive no compensation at all.
  • Potential for Appeals: Even if the injured party wins the trial, the other side might choose to appeal the decision, leading to additional legal proceedings, costs, and delays in receiving compensation.
  • Limited Opportunities for Reconciliation: Trials can polarize parties further. In contrast, settlements often allow for more amicable resolutions, preserving relationships and potentially leading to more cooperative outcomes.

Always Ask Your Lawyer Before Taking Your Case to Trial

If you are thinking about taking your personal injury case to trial, talk to your lawyer first. Their experience, knowledge, and familiarity with similar cases are essential to making an informed decision. Without an attorney’s guidance, you might hurt your case or lose your chance to recover the money you need.

Whether you take your case to trial or not, the New York personal injury attorneys at Harris Keenan & Goldfarb can protect your rights at every step. We have recovered more than half a billion dollars in verdicts and settlements, demonstrating our skill and tenacity. Call (800) 724-6529 today or complete our contact form for a free case review.

Over $500 Million in Verdicts and Settlements

Our track record showcases over $500 million won for our clients. Each victory underlines our commitment to justice and client care. Explore our impact, case by case.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.



Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).



A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.



A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.



Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.



The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.



A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

What our clients have to say

I am not a client. Just a commuter. What is your advertisement? Fire your marketing manager asap. “Yo, pain law, yo” what is that? 1 start for horrible marketing. Sorry. Job you do is serious and isn’t a joke.
david Santiagodavid Santiago
18:05 21 Mar 24
Maria RoqueMaria Roque
20:49 15 Mar 24
Excellent person, very Professional, they assist you in any language, your call is always answered. I recommend you for any case of support you have, your refund is satisfactory. and fast
14:09 02 Mar 24
I am completely satisfied, and recommend Harris Keenan & Goldfarb as Attorneys to represent anyone. Their care for me physically, and overall helped me stay strong in spite of my injuries. Always available to answer questions, and inform.They got me Justice, and achieved a substantial outcome for my case.I am very impressed, and thankful for their outstanding performance on my behalf.I am very pleased, and significantly satisfied with their representation.‐-Sherylon Wilkins
Robert LennonRobert Lennon
15:26 21 Feb 24
Patient and diligence is how I describe the effort of HKG the work was thorough, honest and fair, I have no complaints. Special thanks to attorney Blake and his paralegal Thierry.
Gene Matos (fanboye)Gene Matos (fanboye)
18:48 15 Jan 24
I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
Solange IsaacSolange Isaac
17:52 08 Jan 24
I am pleased with the services provided by Ms Sheri on my case. The team at Harris, Keenan, & Goldfarb were very nice and explained everything to me. Everything that I had questions on they answered without frustration and were prompt and knowledgeable.6 years ago I had a slip and fall accident at my employers place of business. I reached out to them because I knew that I was being wrongfully treated. They took care of the case, restored my self confidence, and brought so much peace to my problem riddled life.I can recommend without a shadow of a doubt the services of Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb to anyone who is in need of someone who will have your back!
Brittany DempseyBrittany Dempsey
16:02 08 Jan 24
My mother had an accident with her ankle back in 2019. I immediately contacted Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb on the day of the accident. They were extremely prompt and helpful. They attended to my mother's case beautifully and she's been recovering well. I'd like to thank you for being so diligent, kind and above all professional. I'd recommend this law firm to anyone who are injured and in need of legal assistance. My mother, Andrea, and I thank you for everything.
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