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Settlements vs. Verdicts: What is the Difference?

If you or someone you know has ever been involved in a Nevada personal injury claim, you have likely come across the terms “verdict” and “settlement.” While both of these legal terms refer to the financial award — or monetary compensation — a personal injury victim may receive during a claim, they refer to different legal processes. Understanding which type of process is best in obtaining a monetary award requires assistance from an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney

Understanding Settlements

Perhaps the most common result in a Nevada personal injury claim is a settlement. Virtually all personal injury claims are resolved at the insurance settlement phase of the case. A settlement is an agreement between the at-fault party (typically an insurance company) and the injured party. This is typically a pre-trial agreement that releases the defendant (the at-fault party) from all future liability for the accident and any resulting injuries — known or unknown — in exchange for a certain amount of monetary compensation. 

Notably, in order to reach a settlement for monetary compensation you do not need to go to court. Instead your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf with an insurance claims adjuster or representative. At this stage in the case, this will be done in person or by phone or email. Generally, a settlement includes compensation for a victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. 

Understanding a Verdict

A verdict, on the other hand, is a decision that is made by a jury after first hearing both sides of the case and facts in a Nevada court. A personal injury victim may recover a judgment, or a monetary award, through a jury verdict if the case goes to trial. This is an uncommon scenario, however, if the claim is complicated you may need to have a full blown trial. Furthermore, if the attorney on your case is unable to resolve the matter during presuit settlement talks due to low offers, then he or she may advise that going to trial is the best option. 

The burden of proof in a civil trial is the preponderance of the evidence, and requires that there is enough evidence to show that the defendant is more likely than not at-fault for the victim’s injuries. If a plaintiff is successful, a jury will announce a favorable verdict which will result in a money damages award. These awards often pay for economic and non-economic damages. 

Pros and Cons

As with many things, settlements and verdicts come with benefits and disadvantages for the plaintiff. Most personal injury victims prefer settlements because they are faster, less expensive, and more certain than verdicts. Indeed, it is not always necessary to go through a trial to achieve a great settlement offer from the defendant’s insurance carrier. A trial, on the other hand, takes much more time and can be significantly more expensive than a negotiated settlement. If a plaintiff is successful in a trial, a jury will likely award more compensation than the insurance company would during settlement talks. Moreover, a jury verdict could award compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and even punitive damages depending on the facts of the case. 

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

The differences between a settlement and a verdict for your personal injury case should be explained by a personal injury attorney. At H&P Law, our skilled lawyers are courtroom proven and will give you the best advice available for your situation. Contact our Las Vegas or Henderson office today.

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