The Vanishing Jury Trial

When we sign new cases, we are predictably asked the question, “will I have to go to trial?”  Most clients are surprised at the answer: “No”.  The statistics are almost overwhelming: of all civil cases filed in the State of Texas, nearly 98% are settled before they go to trial.  That is literally higher than 9 out of every 10 case being settled.  Why is that and why the change from the days when cases were tried regularly?

Tom Crosley published an interesting analysis of this issue recently in the San Antonio Express News. While this is not one reason for the decline, there is a general consensus that litigation has gotten very expensive and insurance companies often decide it is economically better to resolve the case before it goes to a jury trial.  It is also much more difficult to get cases to trial today because there are more legal hurdles than ever (thanks to various laws by the Legislature) and the Texas Appellate System is full of Judges who often overturn Jury verdicts (thereby making it is wise to settling cases).  Most importantly, there is simply a lot of risk at trials – in short, no one quite knows what a jury will do and thus people often (and understandably) prefer certainty (a settlement) versus risk (a jury verdict).

The Loewy Law Firm tries more cases to verdict than most personal injury law firms in Austin.  We tried a very high profile case to verdict last summer against the City of Austin and are poised to try another big one this fall.  If we need to try the case, we are happy to do so.  However, we are always focused on what is best for the client and when you get the kind of offers we have been getting for clients, it is wise to settle the case and get our clients substantial money in their pocket.