You are right that trials should be the last resort -- and actually, Harald Welte always tries to settle out of court first.
But a very big difference between US and Germany is that trials are not as expensive here as in the US. For each law case there's a "standard" lawyer fee that's regulated and that's dependent on the amount of money involved ("streitsumme", didn't find a translation for that). First, the money involved is not as high as in the US, and second, the loser pays that standard fee of the winner's side. A difference might also be that we have a civil law system instead of the Anglo-American common law system, but that's for a lawyer to explain. ;-)