Understanding the Differences Between a Verdict and a Settlement
There are two main ways to pursue compensation for an injury that was caused by someone else: negotiate a settlement, often with an insurance company, or file a lawsuit so a jury can determine how to resolve the situation.
While both verdicts and settlements may provide compensation for your damages, it is important to understand the differences between the two.
Below, the New Jersey car accident lawyers from our firm explain the differences and when filing a lawsuit may be the right thing to do.
How Does an Attorney Reach a Settlement?
A settlement is reached when two disputing parties come to a contractual agreement requiring one party to pay compensation for damages suffered by the other. Settlements typically include compensation for damage to property and any medical costs that exceed the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) limits of the injury victim’s own insurance policy.
Injured victims usually need to provide evidence to back up their claims. When the victim’s attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company, the insurer can accept the offer or make a counteroffer. Both sides may go back and forth multiple times until they reach an agreement on the value of the claim. When both parties agree on an offer, the claim may be settled.
When Should I Settle a Claim?
Most of the time, an attorney can get the insurance company to make a fair offer of compensation. When this happens, agreeing to a settlement may be your best option.
However, the value of a claim must be determined on a case-by-case basis. The victim and his or her attorney must discuss the facts of the case and review the evidence to determine what a claim may be worth. You should not rely on the insurance company’s assessment of the claim, as they are likely to undervalue your damages.
Can I File a Lawsuit After Settling?
In most cases, you are not going to be able to file a lawsuit after agreeing to a settlement offer from the insurance company.
However, there are some scenarios in which you might be able to file a lawsuit after settling. If you believe the insurer acted in a fraudulent or coercive manner to get you to agree to an offer, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
You should discuss a settlement offer with your attorney before agreeing to it. You want to be sure it will provide the compensation you need.
Filing a Lawsuit to Reach a Verdict
Although you may settle a claim at any time, the only way to reach a jury verdict is to file a lawsuit and take the case to court.
When the insurance company is refusing to negotiate, delaying an offer or flat out refusing to agree to your demands, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit.
Once your lawyer files a lawsuit, both sides begin preparing for trial. There is a discovery phase where both sides collect and share information to help them build their cases. Often, settlements are reached before the trial begins.
If you make it to trial, both sides present opening statements and then they present their cases. Once both sides are finished presenting their cases, they make closing statements and the jury deliberates until a verdict is reached.
Which Option is Preferable?
Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit or agreeing to an offered settlement from the insurance company.
Every case is different, so it is difficult to determine which option would be best. One of the most important things to remember is that you need full compensation for your damages. If a settlement would not provide that, you should strongly consider taking the insurance company or at-fault party to court.
Talk to a Licensed Attorney About Your Claim. Call Today
The attorneys at Lynch Law are prepared to review your claim and help determine your legal options.
For over 20 years, our attorneys have been helping injury victims recover the compensation they need by going to court as well as successfully negotiating settlements.
We offer a free consultation and charge you nothing up front, so there is no risk to you.
Call today at (800) 518-0508