Settlements and verdicts are the principal means by which claims achieve a resolution. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Attorneys settle out of court in the vast majority of cases. Most trial attorneys devote the great majority of their time preparing cases for out of court settlement. Attorneys file suit as a last resort when it appears that an appropriate resolution can only be achieved by trial.
Difference Between Settlements and Verdicts
A settlement is voluntary and may be achieved before or after a case has been filed in court. It has been estimated that attorneys try only about 2% of their cases. A verdict is awarded by a jury after a trial in a court of law.
The Deciding Party
In a settlement, the opposing parties negotiate an agreement. Sometimes the agreement is reached through informal negotiation. Mediation, in which a properly qualified third party meets with the parties and their attorneys to help facilitate negotiation, provides a method by which settlement may occur. The adverse parties control the terms of the agreement.
In a verdict, a jury (or a judge if the case is tried to a judge) controls the outcome. If a case is tried with a judge deciding the outcome, the judge’s decision is referred to as a “judgment.” When a case is tried, both parties give up their ability to control the final outcome. The judge and jury control the outcome if the case is tried to a verdict.
A settlement has finality, which is not always true of a verdict. The settlement achieves a resolution of the claim when the adverse parties reach an agreement. When a jury returns a verdict, however, appeals are not unusual. In an appeal the aggrieved party commonly asserts that the jury’s verdict is not supported by the evidence or that the trial judge committed error in admitting or in refusing to admit certain evidence that affected the jury’s decision.
The Speed and Cost
Settlements offer the advantage of a speedier resolution than trials. When an attorney files suit to resolve a claim, a discovery period begins in which both the opposing attorneys gather evidence formally and informally. A trial date occurs only after all the formal and informal discovery has been completed. If a claim is settled without the need for discovery and a trial, a significant amount of expense can usually be avoided.
At Dempsey Kingsland Osteen, our goal is always to achieve an appropriate settlement. In fact, we advise our clients that we should file suit and prepare for trial only when the insurance company refuses to offer a satisfactory settlement.
During the past 30 years we have resolved hundreds of serious injury and wrongful death cases. If you review our credentials, our results, and our client reviews published elsewhere on this website, you will note that we bring considerable talent, experience, and distinction to bear in achieving the best possible results for our clients. We realize that our clients have placed special trust and responsibility in us. Our record of success proves that we are worthy of that trust.
If you would like to discuss a serious personal injury or death claim with us, please call us. We provide a free and friendly consultation. We only charge a fee in the event that we get recovery for you. We get paid at the end of the case when you get paid. You can reach us by calling (816) 484-3776 or you can contact us online via email to schedule a free case evaluation. Alternatively, you can contact us through our chatline, which is posted here on our website. If you would like to speak with us about a serious injury or death case, we welcome the opportunity to visit with you.