In a personal injury matter, the difference between a verdict and a settlement is who decides the outcome of the case.
A verdict is a judgment or decision in a court proceeding. A judge or jury issues a verdict after a trial. A settlement is a voluntary and binding resolution agreement between two parties, without input from the court.
In some cases, both parties agree to a settlement before filing a lawsuit. In other cases, however, the parties arrive at a settlement agreement after the injured party has filed suit.
If you need help handling your personal injury case, contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. We offer free case evaluations to New York personal injury victims. Call 631-600-0000 to set up an appointment.
How Do I Get a Verdict in a Personal Injury Case?
To get a verdict in a personal injury case, we must file a civil action and present your case in court. In New York, civil trials are typically bench trials. That means that a judge hears the case and renders the verdict without input from a jury. Either party has the right a jury trial; however, that party must file a jury demand notice and pay a fee.
Once jury selection concludes, the trial will begin, with each side presenting testimony and evidence. When that concludes, the judge will give the jury instructions—known as delivering a charge to the jury—and send them out for deliberation.
In New York, a civil trial typically has six jurors. The jurors need not arrive at a unanimous verdict, although a verdict requires five of the six jurors to agree. This is a less-than-unanimous verdict. Unlike a criminal trial, a civil trial verdict requires only a preponderance of the evidence for the jury to render a verdict—as opposed to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal trials.
Once the jury arrives at a decision, they will deliver their verdict to the court. The verdict typically also stipulates the amount of damages, if any, that the defendant must pay to the plaintiff. The judge will then issue the court’s official judgment based on the jury’s decision
How Can I Get a Settlement?
You can obtain a settlement in a personal injury case in one of two ways.
During a civil suit, the parties may arrive at a settlement agreement at any time during the process. If that occurs, the court will prepare a Stipulation of Settlement agreement for the parties to sign. The judge must also agree with and sign the settlement agreement. The court will then issue a judgment based on the Stipulation agreement.
In some cases, the parties may arrive at a settlement agreement before the plaintiff or their attorney ever files any legal action—appropriately called an out-of-court settlement.
Most New York personal injury cases end in an out-of-court settlement. If the at-fault party’s insurance company recognizes the validity of your case, they can reduce legal costs by settling out of court.
To convince the insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement, our attorneys will typically present relevant evidence regarding their liability for your injury. If the evidence is sufficiently persuasive and the insurance company’s lawyers believe they might lose in a trial, they are often more willing to make a reasonable settlement offer.
Is a Verdict or a Settlement Preferable in a Personal Injury Case?
Verdicts and settlements both have pros and cons.
You may prefer to reach a settlement agreement in advance of a trial so that you can receive compensation sooner. You can also reduce your legal costs by agreeing to a settlement. A settlement also guarantees your financial compensation amount.
The argument against accepting a settlement is that a trial may result in a higher award of compensation.
A trial will take longer to complete, meaning that you will have more legal fees and you will get your payout later than you would if you elected to settle out of court. At trial, you have no assurance that you will prevail and, sometimes, plaintiffs lose their cases. If you win, however, a judge or jury may choose to award you a larger sum than you anticipated.
How Do I Decide Whether to Accept a Settlement or Pursue a Verdict?
The person who knows your case best—and who has legal knowledge regarding personal injury cases—is your lawyer.
Based on the evidence and other relevant facts about your claim, we will advise you on the best course of action. Ultimately, however, you must make the final decision on how to proceed.
If we believe a settlement offer is high enough to cover all of your damages, we will likely advise you to take it. If, however, the insurance company refuses to negotiate, we may recommend seeking a verdict in court.
How Can I Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer About My Case?
In New York, the personal injury lawyers of Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., will provide you with a free case review to help you explore your legal options. Contact us today at 631-600-0000 to schedule your appointment.