What is the Difference Between a Settlement and a Jury Verdict?

Although every personal injury case is unique, almost all of them are resolved through either a jury verdict or a settlement. While both of these act as conclusions to personal injury cases, there are many differences between them.

What are the pros and cons of accepting a settlement?

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone’s negligence. the experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can explain the difference between personal injury verdicts and settlements, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. Even though the majority of cases are settled, we are always prepared to fight for you in court. Our goal is to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your damages. 

How Do Settlements Work? 

A personal injury settlement is an agreement between an injured victim and an insurance company. In exchange for a certain amount of compensation, the victim waives their right to file any further claims involving the same injury.

Settlement negotiations open when the plaintiff’s attorney sends the insurer a demand letter. Usually, the attorney’s proposed settlement offer is rejected and both sides continue making counteroffers until an agreement is reached and the negotiations come to an end.   

Advantages of a Settlement

The primary advantage of a settlement is that it does not involve a lawsuit or jury trial. Cases are often settled in less time than it takes to achieve a courtroom verdict, so the plaintiff can collect their compensation much sooner. It is also cheaper to settle a case than it is to go to court since no court costs are involved and settling precludes the potential need for expert witnesses, which also increases the cost of a case.  

Just the thought of going to court is a common source of anxiety and stress for many people. They are not sure what is going to happen and are worried about whether or not the jury will rule in their favor. When your case settles, you know you are receiving financial compensation. When your case goes to court, however, there is no guarantee that the jury is going to award you compensation. 

Sometimes our personal injury clients ask us if the insurance companies will pay their future medical expenses after the settlement is over. Unfortunately, there is near uniformity here: insurance companies won’t agree to leave future medical bills open and pay them in the future, one reason they pay a large negotiated settlement is to take into account the future potential of medical expenses as well as pain suffering and permanent implications of the injury. That is the trade-off in a settlement, both sides get finality so we as personal injury attorneys in Virginia try to be sure that we have put forth all of the forms of damages suffered by our client so that a substantial settlement will not only take care of pain and suffering issues but will take care of the possibility of future medical costs and expenses as well.

Filing a lawsuit is, sometimes, the only way to recover your damages. This is why it is in your best interests to work with an attorney who has considerable courtroom experience and, if necessary, will be ready to file a lawsuit on your behalf. 

What Is a Verdict?

A verdict is a decision made in court by a jury. The jury considers all of the evidence and testimony given at trial to come to a decision. Where personal injury cases are concerned, a jury determines whether or not the defendant is liable for your injuries and damages. They will also decide how much compensation, if any, you will be awarded.  

A verdict often marks the conclusion of a lawsuit. Unlike a settlement, however, a verdict can be appealed.  

Why Do Certain Cases Go to Court?

Although most personal injury cases reach a settlement, some can only be resolved at trial. For instance, the more damages you are seeking, the more likely your case is to go to court. Even though these cases usually involve severe, life-altering injuries, insurance carriers are still going to underpay or deny the claim. So, the only way for you to recover fair compensation is to go to trial.

Cases where liability is in dispute are also more likely to go to court. For example, if the insurance company denies liability or tries to say the victim was at fault. This is especially noteworthy in Virginia because victims are barred from recovering any financial compensation if they share in fault for their accident.

Advantages of Going to Trial

As frightening as it sounds, going to court does offer some advantages over settling. Sometimes it is the only way you can be fully compensated for your damages. In fact, it is not uncommon for attorneys to recover more compensation in court than they would in a settlement.

Another benefit is your attorney presents your case to a jury rather than negotiating with an insurance company. A sympathetic jury is more likely to decide that you deserve fair compensation than an insurance adjuster. 

That being said, going to court is not without risk. You have no assurances that the jury will find in your favor. However, attorneys don’t tend to take a case to court unless they are confident in a favorable outcome for their client. 

Contact a Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

The lawyer you choose to represent you after a personal injury accident is one of the most important decisions you will make. Your injuries could have a significant and even permanent impact on your life and for that, you deserve to be compensated.  

You need an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney with a well-established track record of success. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we have been going up against major insurance companies and securing the compensation our clients need for more than 40 years. Give us a call at (833) 997-1774 or reach out through our simple online form to schedule your free consultation today. 

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