Personal Injury Settlement vs. Verdict

The Differences Between a Settlement and a Verdict in Personal Injury Cases

You’ve been injured because of another person’s mistake, perhaps in a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or other type of accident. Now that you’ve made the decision to seek legal representation, you have some important choices to make. Understanding the differences between a verdict and a settlement can help you know what to expect from this process and what factors may affect your claim.

At McPhillips Shinbaum in Montgomery, our clients fight for full and fair compensation with the assistance of attorney Aaron Luck. Find out more about how we can help you now by calling us at 334-262-1911.

The Process of Beginning a Claim

First, you have to understand the general process that you go through when you pursue a personal injury claim. After an attorney agrees to take your claim, they go through an investigation to learn more about what happened and gather the necessary evidence. This should give them the information they need to contact the insurance company on your behalf. They assess how much your claim is worth, send a demand letter to the insurance company, and begin negotiations.

The majority of personal injury claims result in a settlement, not a verdict. This generally happens fairly early on in the process; both sides avoid the risk of going to court while still having some control over the outcome. However, a settlement is not always possible, nor is it always the best option for your case.

What Happens When You Negotiate a Settlement

After your attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company, the insurance company will come back with their own settlement offer. The first offer is rarely what you actually deserve. Negotiations commence, and in most cases, the parties end up agreeing on a number. You, as the victim, sign a waiver that gives up your right to sue for your current injuries or other injuries resulting from the accident in question. You then receive your settlement.

When It’s Necessary to Secure a Verdict

Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always see the genuine value of a claim. If they do not accept the evidence presented to them or underestimate how much a claim is worth, their settlement offer may not come anywhere close to what you are willing to accept. When negotiations falter, your personal injury attorney may need to move forward with a lawsuit.

Even then, a settlement is still a possibility. As the case proceeds and discovery brings your evidence to light, the other party may opt to offer a more favorable settlement. If this does not happen, your case will go before a judge and possibly a jury.

Once the judge and jury have heard from both sides, they will make their decision. In some cases, the judge alone hears your case and makes the final decision; in others, the jury makes the final call. They will decide whether or not the other party is liable for your injuries. If they find that the other party is liable, they will also decide how much compensation they owe you.

The Risks You Take with a Settlement or Verdict

Both of these solutions come with benefits and drawbacks, so we’ll focus on the risks. When you accept a settlement, risks are overall low. The main risk is that you may give up what you truly deserve—for example, if your case warrants punitive damages, you’ll only be awarded those if your case goes to court and results in a verdict. In exchange for guaranteed compensation, you have to give up the possibility of getting a much larger award.

The risks associated with a verdict are far greater. It’s entirely possible that you’ll go through the entire process, only for the jury to find that the other party is not liable and that you are not entitled to anything. Since this is Alabama, they may find that you are partially to blame for the accident—a decision that bars you from receiving any compensation. This risk is more than most people are willing to bear, particularly if they need compensation for medical expenses and other accident-related costs.

Considering a Personal Injury Claim? Contact McPhillips Shinbaum

The right decision for your case will be determined by the specific details of your accident and injuries. That’s where attorney Aaron Luck steps in to help—you can trust his expertise and commitment to his clients. Set up a consultation now by getting in touch online or calling us at 334-262-1911.