Personal Injury Lawsuits: Settlements vs. Judgments
A personal injury claim filed to recover damages can end in two ways: an out-of-court settlement agreed upon by both parties or a court-ordered judgment. Read more about the differences between these two methods of awarding financial compensation.
An out-of-court settlement can be reached at any point before or during a civil trial. In a settlement, the plaintiff agrees not to pursue further legal action against the defendant in exchange for an agreed-upon amount of financial compensation. The plaintiff and defendant negotiate the amount of damages and reach an agreement that they can both accept. A settlement is usually much easier to collect than a judgment, and the defendant will usually pay it more quickly and willingly. A settlement saves both sides the stress and expense of a trial and brings a quicker conclusion to the legal process.
If the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree upon a settlement, the lawsuit will proceed to trial to be decided by a judge or jury. If a verdict is reached in the plaintiff’s favor, the court will order the defendant to pay damages, usually including legal fees. By going to trial, both sides take a chance that the judgment may be larger or smaller than the out-of-court settlement they could have reached. Collecting a personal injury judgment may be more difficult than collecting a settlement; in many cases, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to set up payment arrangements, which the defendant may be reluctant to comply with.
Choosing Between a Judgment and a Settlement
Only an attorney can truly advise you about whether to accept an out-of-court settlement, if you are offered one. There are many factors to consider, like the size of the offered settlement and your chances at trial.
Before filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, always contact a qualified personal injury law firm, like the Auto Accident Law Firm of Kevin Paul Childers. For almost 20 years, we have worked to obtain damages for injured clients. To schedule an appointment in the Woodbridge area, call (703) 330-6300 today.