Request a Free Consultation

What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and a Verdict?

April 25, 2024 | By Kayla Carmosino

Generally speaking, a settlement is the result of a negotiation, while a verdict is the outcome of a trial. These are two possible outcomes in a personal injury accident legal dispute. Both are intended to resolve the case, but they are each the result of a different type of legal proceeding.

Let’s examine the differences between a settlement and a verdict in a personal injury case.

What Is a Verdict?

A verdict is a decision handed down by the court or a jury after a trial. Verdicts are typically reached after a full and fair hearing of the evidence, with both sides having the opportunity to present their case and challenge the other side’s evidence and arguments. The judge or jury weighs the evidence and applies the law to determine which party will prevail.

The verdict may be in favor of the plaintiff (injured person) or the defendant (accused negligent party), or it may be a compromise decision that benefits both sides. Verdicts are a matter of public record and are generally available to anyone who wishes to access them.

A verdict can also be used as a legal precedent, leading to a change in law or a benchmark for how much a similar case may be worth.

What Is a Settlement?

A settlement happens when the parties reach an agreement on a dispute outside of court. This agreement typically involves the payment of money or some other form of compensation by one party to the other. Settlements can be reached at any point during the legal process, from before a lawsuit is filed to after a trial has begun.

Most legal disputes are resolved through settlement rather than trial verdicts. Settlements allow the parties to avoid the uncertainty, time, and costs associated with litigation. Since both parties must agree on the settlement, there is no chance that the legal matter can be opened up again—unlike verdicts, which have the possibility of appeal.

Settlements give the parties control over the case’s outcome; they ultimately decide on the terms of the outcome rather than putting their fate in the hands of a judge or jury. Additionally, settlements are typically confidential, meaning that the terms of the agreement will not be made public. This might be advantageous for parties wanting to keep their dispute’s details and consequences private.

When Should I Consider Settling a Personal Injury Case?

Settlements are more common than verdicts due to the significant time and expense savings for both parties. However, you should never attempt to settle your case without a lawyer.

Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters are highly skilled in negotiations and can delay or mislead plaintiffs into accepting less than what is fair. If you cannot demonstrate a clear chain of causation, the defendant may claim that your injuries were caused by something or someone else and refuse to pay out at all.

Settlements can be reached at any stage of the legal process, even before a lawsuit is filed. Accepting a defendant’s or insurance adjuster’s first offer may leave you underpaid for everything you have suffered. It’s part of your attorney’s job to estimate the full amount of your losses, helping ensure you have enough to pay your bills and cover future costs.

Your injury lawyer can negotiate on your behalf or represent you in mediation, preparing for trial at the same time in case negotiations fall through. You may want to settle your case if:

  • You want to negotiate terms that meet your specific needs.
  • You want to resolve the dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • You want to keep the outcome of the dispute private.
  • You aren’t sure you will get what you want in a trial.

When Should I Consider Going to Trial?

Some cases are better suited to trial than settlement; for example, if the person who caused your injury was extremely negligent or has the potential to cause similar harm in the future. In addition to awarding a victim compensation, a judge can impose sanctions or penalties against the negligent party in a verdict, requiring them to change their behavior.

While an attorney will almost always attempt to settle a case without taking it to trial, the specifics of your case will determine if your case should go to trial. Your case may go to trial if:

  • Your case will set a legal precedent that can guide future cases.
  • You want the verdict to be a matter of public record.
  • The defendant refuses to negotiate a fair amount for your injuries.
  • A settlement cannot be reached, and your attorney works on a no-win, no-fee basis.

It Costs Nothing for an Attorney to Review Your Case

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham have years of experience helping victims get compensation. Call us today at (317) 920-6400 or complete a contact form to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.

Contact Us

Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


Or, call us today at (317) 920-6400

Located In Indianapolis
Back to Top