Verdicts and settlements, in cases of personal injury, simply refer to who decides the resolution of the case. Personal injury suits typically begin with the opposing parties’ insurance companies trying to decide liability and the damages that are owed to the victim. Or whether damages are owed at all.
If you are involved in a personal injury case, speaking to a personal injury lawyer about the differences and how they will be arrived upon in your specific case can give you the answers you seek.
What Is a Verdict?
Verdicts are decided in court proceedings. The judge or jury hands down a verdict following a trial. This decision or judgment is known as the verdict. To receive a verdict, you must file a civil case in the state of Oklahoma.
After filing a civil case, your attorney will either ask for a “bench trial,” where the case goes before the judge, and the judge determines the outcome of the case. Though, some personal injury cases will be heard by a jury. This means a group of jurors will be chosen to listen to the evidence and hand down a verdict.
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What Is a Settlement?
A settlement differs from a verdict because the issue is resolved between the involved parties rather than a judgment being passed by the court. A lawsuit does not have to be filed for those involved to agree on a settlement. Both parties negotiate an agreement they can live with and enter into a binding contract when the terms of the negotiation are reached.
There are times when a personal injury lawsuit is filed, and before the judge or jury hands down the verdict, a settlement is reached. Negotiations are being conducted aside from the trial in most of these cases.
How to Get a Verdict
Since verdicts are reached through lawsuits, one must be filed to begin the process of receiving a verdict for a personal injury claim. After filing a lawsuit, a jury is selected. Each side has an opportunity for input about which jurors to keep or dismiss.
Once the jury is chosen, the court proceedings begin. Each side has an opportunity to address the jury and give an overview of the case in their opening statements. This is a chance to make an impression and describe the reasons their client’s side is the one the jury should favor.
After the opening arguments, each side has gathered evidence supporting their arguments which they will present at this point. This is the portion of the trial where witness testimony is introduced, photos, videos, and expert opinions are offered, and proof of wrongdoing or to prove wrongdoing did not happen is all presented to the court.
Each side’s closing arguments come next. They will summarize their case before the court, and the attorneys will make one last appeal for their clients. The judge will then deliver a charge to the jury and instruct them to determine the case.
In the case of civil lawsuits of over $10,000, 12 jurors, or in less than $10,000, six jurors will deliberate and determine the outcome of the case. The decision does not have to be unanimous. Three-quarters of the jury must agree in order for a judgment to be made.
The jury will decide if damages are owed and the amount. The judge will then make the resolution official according to the determination of the jury.
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How a Settlement Is Reached
Settlements are reached in the case of a personal injury claim in a couple of manners. Civil suit participants can arrange a settlement agreement to resolve matters whenever they decide to do so during the lawsuit. When a settlement is reached, a Stipulation of Settlement agreement is drafted, and each party signs it.
The judge will weigh in on the settlement as well and is required to sign off on it if the settlement is to go into effect. If the judge agrees, the court will then issue a judgment. It is entirely possible to come to a settlement agreement before the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney files the legal action. The parties agree to settle out of court if this occurs.
Settling Out of Court
Settling out of court is typically the way most civil suits are resolved. This allows the at-fault insurance company a chance to rectify the situation while saving the expenses related to going to court. A skilled Oklahoma personal injury lawyer will work hard to convince the opposing party’s insurance company to offer a generous settlement.
The attorneys for the insurance company will typically review the evidence presented by the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney and determine whether pursuing a trial is worth it to them financially. If the evidence is weighted heavily in favor of the plaintiff, the insurance company may realize that a jury will be persuaded to side with the plaintiff, therefore making seeking a verdict fruitless. At this point, they may offer a fair settlement.
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The Pros and Cons of Verdicts and Settlements
Both verdicts and settlements have their benefits and drawbacks. Some of the pros and cons are listed below:
Benefits and Disadvantages of Receiving a Verdict:
- Trials take longer.
- Going to trial may allow for more compensation to be awarded.
- The opposite could also be true. There is no guarantee that anything will be awarded.
- Legal fees and court costs can be expensive.
- It takes longer to receive your money.
Pros and Cons of a Settlement Agreement:
- Fewer legal costs are associated with a settlement.
- A guarantee of financial compensation comes with a settlement agreement.
- You could be awarded more than the settlement amount if you pursue the case before the court.
- The case can be resolved faster.
- You receive your payout more quickly.
Determining Whether to Agree to a Settlement or to Seek a Verdict
Your Oklahoma personal injury lawyer will have investigated your case and will understand every aspect. Their legal knowledge and their knowledge of your case give them the advantage of taking into account all of the relevant details when advising you on how to best advise you. You will determine which course of action to pursue based on the facts as you know them and your lawyer’s advice.
Consider whether the settlement offer will cover all of the injuries and damages you sustained. If the number is generous enough, your personal injury attorney in Oklahoma will likely agree that taking it is a good idea. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate or does not provide a proper settlement offer, your attorney will almost always suggest going to court.
Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer in Oklahoma Today
Reach out to the legal team at BDIW Law if you have a personal injury that was caused by the negligence of another party. We will review your case and aid you in protecting your rights and navigating your options so that you can approach your settlement or verdict fully informed. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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