The Differences Between a Settlement and a Verdict in Personal Injury Cases

The Differences Between a Settlement and a Verdict in Personal Injury Cases

Unless you’ve been involved in a lawsuit, you may not fully understand the difference between a case that ends with a settlement and a case where the jurors award financial compensation following a verdict in your favor. 

A civil suit can be filed when the actions of a negligent person have injured you. Unlike criminal charges for violating the law that can land you in prison, a monetary award is the only possible outcome of a civil lawsuit.  A civil suit can also include compensation for your pain and suffering. 

Settlement Versus Verdict 

There is a significant difference between compensation received through a settlement or a verdict.

If you are awarded compensation following a jury trial, the other side can appeal the verdict. Because of the nature of the courts, you can be forced to wait years before you ever see any compensation. You will likely see the award sooner if you agree to a settlement. 

In that case, the insurance company, for the other side, may offer you an amount they consider to be fair compensation. You and your attorney request a larger settlement, and some negotiation can go on, but when you finally accept the settlement, there is no appeal, and you are free to get on with your life.

In the end, you may have less money, but you receive it sooner than if there is an appeal of a jury verdict. 

Some plaintiffs want to take their chances before a jury and have their “day in court.” But there is a downside to consider. Ultimately, the jury may award you more money than a settlement would provide, but juries are unpredictable. They can just as easily award you nothing. 

There is also the cost of a trial, which will come from the monies you are awarded. That’s why a settlement is often seen as a sure thing to bring you some compensation sooner.  

A Settlement

An injured person files a personal injury case when the at-fault party displays negligence or reckless behavior that results in an auto accident, a workplace mishap, an accident at a big box store, or a dog bite. A consultation with a personal injury lawyer will help determine if your injuries resulted from someone’s negligence, which is the basis of your case.  

Additionally, there may be another party whose negligence led to the accident with injuries. For example, a vehicle with a defective part under recall fails on the highway and leads to injuries. In that case, the manufacturer can be named in a civil lawsuit as well as the reckless driver.  Your attorney will help you determine the events that led to the accident to include any possible defendants. 

After an investigation and gathering evidence, your personal injury attorney will begin negotiating with the attorney for the other side. Expect their initial offer to be inadequate, in the “lowball” range. Attorney Chip Nix has the experience and negotiating skills to present all the factors on your side to negotiate a more reasonable settlement that adequately compensates you for your injuries. 

In the case of a negotiation that is unsuccessful, he also has the skills to take your case to trial to advocate for you before a jury.  

The Trial

Mr. Nix will present the evidence to jurors to determine that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. In a civil proceeding, the standard is the “preponderance of the evidence,” a lesser standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required of the evidence in a criminal matter. Even if you are at trial, the insurance company can offer you an out-of-court settlement anytime during the proceeding.

Ultimately, the gathered evidence, testimony on the stand, eyewitnesses, and experts will convince a jury that the fault lies with the negligent party and that compensation is merited. If your personal injury trial attorney is successful, you can expect compensation for lost wages, both present and future, medical bills, future medical treatment, long-term care, pain, and suffering.

Your Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

Attorney Chip Nix has decades of experience helping plaintiffs who have suffered a personal injury. He is equally capable of taking your case before the insurance company for the other side to seek a settlement or to take your issues before a jury to seek a favorable verdict.

If you seek damages and compensation for your losses due to a personal injury, a complimentary consultation with Attorney Chip Nix will allow you to explore your options. He can be reached at our Montgomery office at (334) 203-6669. 

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