Not every court case is resolved at trial. In fact, it’s usually preferable to avoid trial, since that can be a time-consuming and often stressful process for the plaintiff and witnesses. When a case is strong enough, many defendants and insurance companies offer a settlement instead.
In short, a settlement is a legally binding agreement that effectively ends your case. You can accept a settlement offer any time before a verdict is rendered, and your judge will have the final say as to whether the settlement agreement is acceptable.
Here’s a brief overview to help you understand how settlements work.
What Are Settlements and When Would You Accept One?
Settlements are used in civil court to reach a legally binding compromise between the parties. This is only applicable to civil cases—in criminal court, a similar agreement would be a plea deal.
Usually, one party agrees to pay a certain amount of money or perform a certain action in order to stop the case from going to trial. This may be subject to negotiation. If all affected parties can agree, the settlement is accepted and the litigation ends—at least as it pertains to the parties entering into the settlement and the claims it’s meant to settle. If there are additional claims and parties, those may still go forward to trial.
Settlements are common in personal injury cases, especially when a plaintiff has a particularly strong case. The defendant may decide that it’s not worth the time and expense to gamble on a jury verdict, so they’ll make an offer. Representatives for both parties will negotiate the agreement, sometimes with the help of a mediator. If everyone accepts, the judge will review the settlement and the case will end.
Is There Ever a Reason to Refuse a Settlement Offer?
Sometimes a settlement offer is so low as to be laughable. Other times, a plaintiff and their attorney might decide that they have a chance of a better verdict at trial. It all depends on the specific circumstances of your case, your attorney’s advice, and how you, the plaintiff, feel about the deal.
Keep in mind that if you accept a settlement, that’s the end of your case forever. You will not be able to appeal the case, or sue the defendants for the same actions again. Your lawyer will tell you whether they think you’re wise to accept the offer—but ultimately, it’s up to you.
Learn More About Settlements from an Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer
When you’re injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877.944.4373 for a consultation. We’ll discuss your case and talk about whether I think it could settle early, go to trial or have another outcome. You need skilled legal representation for your personal injury case, and I can help.