Should You Settle or Go to Trial in a Fatal Injury Case in Iowa?


When a loved one is killed due to another’s negligence in Iowa, the surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim. This allows certain family members to recover damages from the at-fault party. However, the family must decide whether to settle the case out of court or take it to trial. There are pros and cons to each option that should be carefully weighed.

Common Causes of Fatal Injuries

Some of the most common causes of fatal injuries include motor vehicle accidents, falls, and medical malpractice. Car crashes remain a leading cause of accidental death due to speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving behaviors. Falls, particularly among the elderly, can prove deadly with traumatic brain injuries. Medical errors by doctors, nurses, and hospitals also result in a high number of avoidable patient deaths each year.

Other common fatal injury causes are workplace accidents, defective products, dangerous property conditions, and nursing home abuse and neglect. Understanding the prevalent risks in one’s environment is important to help prevent tragic injuries that could otherwise be avoided.

Factors Favoring Settlement

Opting to settle a fatal injury case instead of going to trial has some potential advantages for grieving families.

Avoid the Stress of Trial

Taking a case to trial can be extremely stressful for a grieving family. Reliving the trauma and testifying on the stand may prolong the healing process. Settling allows the family to move on sooner.

Faster Resolution

Trials typically take over a year to get to, whereas settlements can resolve a case in months. The family will get compensation faster to cover expenses.

Lower Legal Costs

Trials rack up substantial legal fees through extensive motions, depositions, investigations, and the trial itself. Settling early avoids these costs, allowing the family to keep more of the damages.

Factors Favoring Trial

Trials may be preferred if holding the defendant fully responsible is the main goal. Here are some of the key factors why you may wish to go to trial.

Maximize Damages

Juries tend to award higher damages than settlements, as they may be more sympathetic. Economic and non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no caps in Iowa either.

Establish Fault

Trials establish legal fault and accountability through the adversarial process. If holding the defendant responsible is important, a trial verdict does this over a private settlement.

Punitive Damages

Settlements often do not include punitive damages, but courts can award them to punish and deter egregious conduct. Multi-million dollar punitive awards are possible.

Deciding between settlement and trial depends on the family’s main objectives. If the goal is to resolve the matter efficiently and avoid stress, settlement may be best. However, if finding accountability and maximum compensation are most important, a trial may be the better option in an Iowa wrongful death case. Thoroughly evaluating the case specifics with an attorney is crucial to make the right decision for the family.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597 if someone you love has been killed in an accident that wasn’t their fault. We have offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including Iowa, Virginia, and Kansas.

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