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Personal Injury Settlement vs. Verdict: What’s the Difference?

If you have been injured and are considering a personal injury lawsuit, you may be curious about possible outcomes. Will you receive compensation at all? How long will the case take? Do you even have a case at all?

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, or an auto accident, in a dog-bite incident or even as the result of a defective product, you may be eligible to receive compensation.

Depending on the specific details of your case, there are two distinct outcomes of personal injury cases. Your case will either end in a settlement, or it will go to trial and be decided by a jury.

What is a Settlement?

A settlement refers to an agreement reached pre-trial between the plaintiff and the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company. The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled without a trial, with some citing figures as high as 95% for these cases. This means your lawyer and the lawyer for the defendant, or the defendant’s insurance company, have come to a compromise on the terms of your injury claim. This often ends in some sort of financial payout, but the terms can vary widely.

What is a Verdict?

A verdict refers to a final decision by a jury. If you are unable to come to agreeable terms and settle, the lawsuit can advance to a judge or jury trial. Personal injury cases are heard in civil court and standards are slightly different from that of criminal court.

In civil court, the burden of proof for evidence is a “preponderance of the evidence,” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal court. It is up to the plaintiff to establish that they sustained injury due to the negligence of the defendant. In civil court jury trials, there are generally eight jurors and three-fourths of the jurors must agree on a verdict.

From there, the jury, or sometimes the judge, will then determine the financial compensation that is due to the plaintiff, to be paid by the defendant. Some states, including Nevada, have a cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded in certain types of personal injury cases. These caps often only limit non-economic damages, meaning it does not cap payment for your medical bills and lost wages at work. For example, compensation for non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits is capped at $350,000 in Nevada.

Which is better for me?

Each case should be viewed based on its specific context, circumstances and other details and facts. Many plaintiffs, however, tend to decide settling is the best option for their specific circumstances as this limits the risk of going forward with a jury trial and incurring additional costs associated with litigation. In circumstances when a plaintiff feels they have not been offered fair compensation during settlement negotiations, they may want to take the case to trial.

For more information on what legal options are available to help you receive fair compensation call Greenman, Goldberg, Raby & Martinez at (702) 388-4476 to schedule your free consultation today.