What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and a Verdict?
When the parties involved in a lawsuit, negotiate and agree that the insurance company has offered fair compensation, and accept it– that is a settlement. If the parties fail to agree, the case goes to court, and a jury renders a verdict.
Most cases are settled since insurance companies do not want to incur the legal expenses involved in going to trial. Some claims are settled with an insurer before a formal lawsuit is filed, while others are settled after.
When the parties agree on a settlement, the injured person knows exactly what compensation they will receive. Although a trial may result in a more significant amount via a verdict, the legal fees are higher, and there is also the potential that the plaintiff could lose the case and receive nothing.
We can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our experienced attorneys have recovered more than $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for clients.
The settlement process
After the accident, the individual must determine whether it results from another party’s negligence. A consultation with a lawyer can help make this determination for those who are unsure.
While some people may settle with the insurance company directly, it is also wise to seek legal counsel in case of a serious injury. The insurance company wants to pay as little as possible, and their initial offers are usually in the “lowball” range– if the claimant does not have legal representation.
If another person is responsible for the circumstances surrounding the injury, the victim may file a lawsuit against them. Their attorney will then gather evidence and negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company.
This process starts with your attorney sending a demand letter to the insurance company, which includes compensation. In return, the insurance company will offer a settlement, which is seldom the same.
From there, the respective parties will negotiate until a mutually agreed-upon settlement amount is proposed. If no agreement is reached, the next step is going to trial.
Going to trial
Personal injury cases are heard in civil courts. It is not uncommon for the parties involved to settle during the trial, which still makes this an out-of-court settlement.
If the trial proceeds, the burden of proof is a “preponderance of evidence,” rather than the higher standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” employed in criminal court. In short, the jury must decide whether the evidence presented shows that the defendant is the party responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
The plaintiff’s attorney presents evidence, including expert witnesses and eyewitnesses. If applicable, they show why the defendant should prove accountable for their client’s injuries. The defendant’s attorney makes the case as to why their client is not liable.
The jury renders a verdict of guilty or not guilty on the defendant. If the decision is the former, the jury then determines the amount of compensation.
The amount of compensation is usually decided by the information presented by the plaintiff’s attorneys, such as lost wages, medical expenses, future loss of income, long-term care needs, pain and suffering, and other damages relevant to the individual case.
Pennsylvania does not impose caps on personal injury damages, except for lawsuits that involve government agencies. Of course, if the jury finds the defendant not guilty, there is no compensation for the plaintiff.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation
If you or a loved one were seriously injured because of another party’s negligence, contact a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney from our team. Schedule a free consultation by calling or texting 24/7 or submitting our online contact form.
After evaluating your case, we will advise you of your options. We will fight aggressively so that you receive a fair settlement, but if the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer, we will take your case to court. As we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win.