Most car accident cases are settled outside of court. This is because a trial can be expensive and time-consuming for both parties. However, it does not mean that it is always a good idea to settle. You want to make sure that all of your damages are considered before attempting to resolve your claim.
At Gordon & Partners, we have helped many injured car accident victims recover compensation either through a negotiated settlement or by winning a verdict in a court trial. Our lawyers are here to carefully weigh your available options during a risk-free, zero-obligation consultation. If you have a case, we are prepared to help you navigate the entire legal process to obtain the maximum compensation possible.
Below, we discuss the difference between settlements and verdicts in greater detail.
Car Accident Settlements
A settlement is a voluntary but binding agreement between both parties (defendant and plaintiff). In a car accident settlement, the dispute is resolved without going to court before a judge or jury.
Negotiating a settlement for a car accident claim can take several months to resolve – or longer – for more challenging claims. Insurance companies generally try to avoid the legal expenses involved in going to trial. Injured car accident victims may also want to avoid the uncertainty of a trial.
Sometimes both parties agree to a settlement before a lawsuit is even filed. Other times, both parties may agree to settle only after the injured car accident victim initiates legal action.
If both parties reach a settlement, the injured car accident victim will know the amount of compensation he or she will receive. A trial may result in a greater compensation amount once a verdict has been reached, however, it will cost a lot more. There is also the risk of losing out on compensation altogether.
In certain cases, car accident settlements may be reached outside of normal negotiations between both parties. For instance, a settlement may be agreed to through mediation or arbitration proceedings.
Reaching a Settlement Agreement
Each case is unique and while most cases are settled before going to trial, some cases may benefit from the court system. It is important for injured car accident victims to be informed of the pros and cons.
Reaching a settlement agreement is typically:
- Costs less
- More efficient
- Less stressful
Reaching a settlement may also help you to keep more of any compensation you are awarded. This is because settlement costs are significantly lower versus a trial. If our firm represents you, there are no upfront fees, so there is no risk if you take legal action. We only get paid for our services if we help you obtain the compensation you need.
When it comes to settlement negotiations, you may also have more leverage. You and your lawyer will be able to accept or deny any settlement offer you are given. This means not having to accept the initial settlement offer from the insurance company and negotiating for a better settlement. With a trial, there is no room for negotiation – you will have to accept the compensation amount decided by a judge or jury.
On the downside, reaching a settlement agreement takes time. There are several factors that can prolong a case. For instance, you will need to reach maximum medical improvement before an accurate value of your claim can be assessed. The more serious your injury, the longer this process will take.
A settlement is also permanent. Once you accept a settlement, you are releasing the other party from any further liability regarding the car accident. For instance, say you settle and your injuries get worse, or you discover a new injury. Even if this discovery results in unexpected medical expenses, you will not be able to seek more compensation.
Our lawyers are skilled negotiators and well-versed in the factors that must be included in a final settlement. We are ready to gather supportive evidence to build a strong case for compensation.
Car Accident Verdicts
A verdict is a judgment or decision that is decided upon in court or in a hearing. Both parties argue their cases to a judge or jury. After all the evidence is presented in a trial, the jury renders a verdict.
When a settlement cannot be reached, the case may need resolution through a court trial. This can happen when both parties cannot agree on who is liable and/or the compensation amount. In other cases, the injured victim may feel it is the only way to get fair and just compensation.
If your case goes to trial, a jury gets selected before the trial begins. Each party will then give an opening statement, have lay and expert witnesses testify and cross-examine one another. After closing arguments, the judge will instruct the jury and send them for deliberation. Once a decision has been made, the jury delivers the verdict in court. This verdict will state the amount of damages awarded, if any.
Reaching a Jury Verdict at Trial
Taking a car accident case to court has its advantages and disadvantages. You may be able to receive more compensation in a verdict rather than a settlement. For instance, a jury may decide to award you more for pain and suffering. Insurance companies often try to minimize these types of damages.
Winning at trial may feel like justice was served. In a trial, the defendant can be found guilty. In a settlement, the defendant is not obligated to admit guilt for anything that happened in the car accident.
On the downside, a trial may take years or get delayed multiple times, costing more money and resources. Jury-awarded verdicts may result in less compensation or no compensation at all.
Taking your case to court may not be worth it unless you have a lawyer with trial experience. Not all lawyers are prepared to go to trial. Insurance companies know which lawyers or law firms may be unwilling to plead a case in court and may use this information to devalue or deny a claim.
Reach Out for Trusted Legal Help
A licensed West Palm Beach auto accident lawyer is ready to fight for your rights – even if that means going to court. We have the knowledge, resources and skills to settle for nothing less than you deserve.
The initial consultation is free of charge. There is no legal obligation involved. We also charge no upfront fees if we take on a case and no fees while we work on a case. Our firm only gets paid if you obtain a recovery.