What is the Difference Between a Verdict and a Settlement?

settlement vs verdictThe main difference between a verdict and a settlement is that one involves a jury trial and the other relies on both parties reaching an agreement outside of court.

The car accident attorneys in Sacramento at the Arnold Law Firm have recovered compensation for our clients both by settling outside of the courtroom and by taking cases to trial. Our knowledgeable attorneys are prepared to guide you through the legal process so you may focus on recovering from your injuries.  

Learn more about the differences between verdicts and settlements.

What is a Settlement?

A settlement is when opposing parties come to a contractual agreement to solve a dispute.

After an accident, the negligent driver, or the insurance company representing the negligent driver, agrees to pay for damages claimed by the victim, such as medical expenses, damage to property, and potentially pain and suffering.

This contract between the two parties means that the injured person agrees not to file a lawsuit in exchange for compensation.

What is the Process for Reaching a Settlement?

Once fault for the collision is determined, and you are undergoing the necessary treatment for your injuries, consult with your attorney about your accident and how to proceed if you have a valid claim.

Your attorney will work with you to determine the damages suffered and their value, then send a demand letter to the insurance company for that amount.

The insurance company usually responds with an offer that is lower than what is asked for in the demand letter. From there, the negotiation process between your attorney and the insurance company begins. Often, both sides eventually reach a settlement.

What is a Verdict?

If the parties cannot come to an agreement on a settlement, your lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit so your case can be presented at trial to a jury that will decide the case. This decision is called a verdict.

The ideal outcome of a trial is for the jury to issue a favorable verdict that will equal or surpass your expectations in your initial demand letter to the insurance company.

Reaching a Verdict

Civil trials have numerous steps, including pre-trial discovery and jury selection.

The proof necessary for achieving a favorable verdict in a civil case is different from criminal cases. In a criminal trial, the evidence must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil cases need only produce a preponderance of evidence to prove liability.

Once in the courtroom, the trial process generally is as follows:

  • Opening statements
  • Presentation of evidence by the injured party
  • Witness testimony
  • Direct and cross-examination of witnesses

After the injured party’s legal representative is done presenting its case to the jury, the insurance company’s legal team then can ask a judge for a dismissal of the case or for a direct verdict to say the argument made by the injured party does not produce a preponderance of evidence to prove liability.

If the judge denies the request, the defense must then present its own case using witnesses, evidence, and other arguments to deny liability.

After both sides have presented their closing arguments, the jury will reach a verdict.

When Should I File a Lawsuit?

In many personal injury cases, reaching a settlement that guarantees monetary compensation is better than risking a jury trial that may not lead to a favorable verdict.

However, an experienced attorney can advise when filing a lawsuit may be appropriate. For example, if the insurance company denies liability or repeatedly extends unfair settlement offers, a lawsuit may be your last option.

Your attorney may also recommend filing a lawsuit is if the insurance company is taking too long to settle a claim, delaying negotiations, or using other bad faith insurance practices.

Let Us Handle Your Claim

After an accident, the last thing you want to deal with is an insurance claim, especially if the insurance company is refusing to make a reasonable settlement offer.

Let us deal with the insurance company instead. Our attorneys have many years of combined experience negotiating with insurers and are prepared to take them to court if the need arises.

You pay nothing upfront and owe us nothing unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Call today for a free consultation: (916) 777-7777