WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SETTLEMENT AND A TRIAL?
There are two ways your car accident case can be resolved. One way is a settlement. That means you and the insurance company reach an agreement on what is a fair amount of compensation for what has happened to you; for your medical bills, for your lost wages, for your pain and suffering, for your future injuries. If that insurance company and you can come to an agreement on what is a fair amount of money for those damages and for that claim, the case can be resolved by settlement. At a settlement, the insurance company is going to expect and, in fact, will demand, that you sign a document called a release in which you waive and forfeit any future right to recovery. A case can be settled really at any phase of the claim. It can be settled before a lawsuit is brought, it can be settled after a lawsuit is brought, and the claim is being processed. I’ve seen cases settle on the courthouse steps right before a trial is going to start. I’ve had a case that we settled after opening arguments, so a case can be settled really at any phase. If an agreement cannot be reached with the insurance company as to what’s fair and reasonable, the only other way to resolve your case is through a trial. And that’s where the information about your damages, your medical bills, what’s happened to you, how this has affected you going forward, how it’s affected you in the past, that’s presented to the trier of fact. The trier of fact could be a judge or it could be a jury. The judge or jury will listen to the evidence from both sides. Your side and what the other side claims. And that trier of fact will determine what is a fair and reasonable amount of compensation for you. So that’s the two ways a claim can be resolved—either by settlement or through a court process.