Personal injury cases involve seeking compensation and holding negligent parties accountable. In addition, you can seek compensation to recover the financial and other damages you have suffered. While money cannot make up for your injuries or pain and suffering, it is the most common form of compensation in personal injury cases.
If you decide to file a personal injury claim, it’s advisable to hire an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer. A legal professional who has dealt with cases similar to yours can advise you on whether a settlement or proceeding to trial is the best option for your unique case.
Even if you have the best legal representation, educating yourself on matters related to your injury claim can’t hurt. So read on to learn the difference between a settlement, a verdict, and judgment in a personal injury case.
What Is a Verdict?
When two parties have a disputed issue that goes to court, a jury will decide on the case outcome. Their conclusion is called a verdict.
So, if you seek compensation for your injuries but cannot agree with the other party on a fair settlement, your attorney may advise a trial proceeding. First, Your attorney will file a suit on your behalf. Then, you and the other party, or your attorneys, will present your sides of the case in court. Once both parties have presented their case, a jury will issue a verdict at the end of the trial.
A verdict can either be in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. If it rules in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant will be required to pay you the amount the verdict has awarded you. However, if the jury rules a verdict against the plaintiff, you lose the case, and the defendant will not be required to pay you anything.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement is a voluntary and binding resolution agreement. Settlements occur between two or more parties, usually in civil lawsuits. In addition, a settlement is an agreement that is reached without the case needing to go to court. Reaching a settlement agreement in a personal injury case can come about through several different methods.
You can resolve your claim with a settlement agreement before or during the case. For example, if you can settle before filing a lawsuit, you will not need to go to court. Such a settlement is known as an out-of-court settlement.
Most personal injury cases do not need to go to court and are often resolved through out-of-court settlements. This is because the at-fault party’s insurance company claims fault and agrees to pay you compensation, thus avoiding the need for a trial proceeding. Unfortunately, while out-of-court settlements can lower overall costs, insurance companies often offer measly payments much less than injury victims deserve.
However, a settlement does not necessarily need to happen before trial. If both parties agree on the settlement, they can resolve the dispute at any point. For example, let’s say both parties decide to settle during the case’s trial proceeding. Then, the court would create an officially binding document to settle the case.
What Is a Judgment?
Judgments are decisions made by a judge in a bench trial. Judgments occur when court orders go into action during a lawsuit, and a judge tries the case. Sometimes, a judgment can include a verdict.
The verdict is not the final say and does not necessarily conclude the trial. A judgment, however, is necessary to end the trial officially. In addition, the plaintiff and defendant have an option to appeal the decision after a final judge makes their final ruling.
Key Differences: Settlements vs. Verdicts and Judgments
- Judgments: official decisions made by the court (a judge) that either rule in favor or against the plaintiff.
- Settlement: An agreement between both parties to resolve the case without any input from the court
- Verdict: a decision decided by a jury in a trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement.
Choosing Between a Settlement, Judgment, and Verdict
When to Accept a Settlement
Your Denver personal injury attorney can advise you on whether or not you should accept a settlement offer. In most cases, you should only take an offer if it is a fair amount to cover the damages you’ve incurred.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind when deciding to accept a settlement or not.
- As the victim, you can reject a settlement and still recover compensation. Your attorney can negotiate a better amount on your behalf, either with the insurance company or in court.
- A settlement is a final and legally binding agreement. Once you accept it, the insurance company will ask you to sign a liability release and will no longer be required to pay you anything in the future. You also forfeit the option to try the case in court once you accept a settlement offer.
- Remember that your injuries may not initially appear severe but could worsen over time. Therefore, you should seek medical attention immediately after the accident and keep medical treatment records. Your injuries could worsen over time or prove to be more severe than you initially thought. Thus, accepting a settlement offer too soon could mean you get less than you deserve.
- It would help if you also considered the cost of your accident compared to the settlement offer. An initial settlement offer may include expenses like property damage and medical bills. However, make sure the settlement is fair before you accept it. Many initial settlement offers do not compensate for alternative transportation, child care coverage, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, or future medical expenses. Make sure you seek experienced legal counsel who can properly advise you on the damages you are entitled to recover.
When to Pursue Judgment or a Verdict
Most people choose to pursue a judgment when they feel that the settlement offer is not a fair amount. Or, if the at-fault party’s insurance policy does not cover bodily injury coverage or does not adequately compensate you, you might be better off pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
If you go to trial, there’s always a chance that a judge or jury will award you less than what you could have recovered from an out-of-court settlement.
Similar to a judgment, you can pursue a verdict if you feel that a settlement offer does not justify your losses and injuries. Then, with the help of your personal injury lawyer, you can proceed to court and present your case. Going to court is usually the best option when you cannot reach a desirable agreement with the other party. Verdicts often result in higher compensation than settlements but also take longer to achieve.
Contact an Experienced Denver Personal Injury Lawyer
We will schedule a free consultation and discuss what compensation you can seek and help you win a fair settlement for your losses.
Having a skilled lawyer can ultimately spell the difference between the success or failure of your case. However, remember that not all attorneys are of an equal caliber, so be sure to research and find a good one with experience in car accident cases.
The stress of an injury with financial hardships and life-altering consequences can take a toll on anyone. Lacking proper legal representation can further add to your frustration. Therefore, make sure you find the right attorney who is prepared to represent you wholeheartedly. Lastly, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel, as personal injury claims are time-sensitive processes.
Call us today for a free initial consultation. We will happily discuss your legal rights and fight to win you the total compensation you deserve.