Comparing Settlements vs. Trial Verdicts: Pros and Cons

Comparing Settlements vs. Trial Verdicts: Pros and Cons

As a plaintiff in a personal car accident case, you face an important decision of whether to settle your case or proceed to a trial verdict. Both options have advantages and disadvantages that you must carefully weigh. This article provides an in-depth look at the key pros and cons of settlements versus trial verdicts. It analyzes factors such as potential compensation amounts, litigation costs and fees, timing and stress considerations, and the odds of prevailing at trial. With this information, you will be equipped to make an informed choice between settlement or trial that aligns with your goals, priorities and risk tolerance. Consider the arguments on both sides as you determine the best path forward for resolving your personal injury claim.

Settlements vs. Trial Verdicts: Key Differences

Speed and Cost

A key difference between settlements and trial verdicts is the speed and cost. Settlements are typically faster and less expensive since they avoid a lengthy trial process. Trials can drag on for months or years and cost significantly more in legal fees. For plaintiffs seeking quick resolution and compensation, a settlement may be preferable. For defendants concerned about legal costs, settlement may also be the more appealing option.

Risk and Reward

There are also differences in risk and reward. In a settlement, both parties accept a negotiated amount, so there is little risk of an extremely unfavorable outcome but also little chance of an extremely rewarding one. Trials carry more uncertainty since the outcome is at the jury’s discretion. Although the plaintiff risks losing and gaining nothing, they also have a chance of gaining more than a typical settlement amount. The defendant faces the same uncertain rewards and risks but in reverse.

Admission of Wrongdoing

Another key difference is that settlements typically do not require an admission of wrongdoing while verdicts can. In a settlement, the defendant can resolve the case without accepting fault or liability. After a trial, if the verdict is against the defendant, the court essentially finds that they were legally at fault or liable. For defendants concerned with reputation and liability, avoiding an admission of wrongdoing may make settlement preferable.

In summary, the main differences between settlements and trial verdicts are speed and cost, risk and reward, and admission of wrongdoing. For both plaintiffs and defendants, weighing these factors and priorities can help determine whether settlement or trial is the better option in a given case.

The Pros of Settling Your Texas Car Accident Case

Avoiding the Uncertainty of Trial

By settling your case, you avoid the risk of getting nothing at trial. Even with a strong case, there is always a chance that a jury could find in favor of the defendant. Settlement guarantees you will recover something for your injuries and damages.

Faster Resolution

Settlement typically allows for a faster resolution of your case compared to going to trial. The settlement process can often take a few months, while a trial and possible appeals can drag on for years. The settlement provides a quicker conclusion, allowing you to move on from the accident.

Lower Costs

Settling avoids significant litigation costs like expensive expert witnesses, depositions, and trial costs. While your attorney will still need to spend time negotiating a settlement, the total fees are often lower compared to a lengthy trial process. The money saved can be allocated to you instead.


With the settlement, there is more flexibility in the outcome. The parties can get creative with the terms of the agreement to benefit both sides. For example, the defendant may pay for future medical bills or make changes to prevent future accidents. These types of provisions are harder to obtain through a trial.

In summary, the settlement has several advantages over trial for resolving an auto accident injury claim. While giving up the possibility of a larger verdict, the settlement provides certainty, speed, lower costs, and flexibility. For many plaintiffs, settlement is the preferable path to take after a serious accident.

The Cons of Settling Without a Trial

Loss of Leverage

By settling a case out of court, you lose the leverage of a potential trial verdict. The threat of a costly and risky trial often motivates defendants to offer larger settlement amounts. Once you settle, that leverage is gone. The defendant has avoided the risk of a larger verdict against them at trial.

Uncertainty of Outcome

There is no way to know with certainty how a trial might turn out. You could get a very favorable verdict or end up with nothing at all. By settling, you give up the possibility of getting an even larger award or verdict at trial. Although settlements provide certainty, you lose the possibility of a better outcome.


Trials can establish important legal precedents that apply to future cases. A settlement avoids this possibility and does not guide the courts and legal community. Important issues of law or liability may remain unresolved. For plaintiffs seeking justice or change, a trial verdict can be more meaningful.

Sense of Resolution

For some plaintiffs, a trial provides a sense of resolution or justice that is hard to achieve through settlement alone. Having their “day in court” and winning a jury verdict, even if the amount is less than a settlement offer, provides closure. Settlements may feel unsatisfying by comparison, even if the financial outcome is better.

As with any legal decision, there are good arguments on both sides. Whether to settle a case or proceed to trial depends on your priorities, risk tolerance, and desire for closure. For many plaintiffs, a guaranteed settlement payment may be preferable to the uncertainty of a trial. But for others, the intangible benefits of a trial make giving up the possibility of a verdict too difficult. Discussing the pros and cons in depth with your lawyer can help determine the best choice for your unique situation.

When to Take Your Case to Trial

While settlements are common, taking a case to trial is sometimes necessary to achieve full justice and compensation. If settlement negotiations reach an impasse or the defending party refuses to negotiate in good faith, litigation may be your only recourse.

Unreasonable Offers

If the defending party offers an unreasonably low settlement that does not adequately compensate you for your injuries and losses, rejecting it and proceeding to trial is advisable. At trial, you have the opportunity to present evidence to a jury demonstrating the severity of harm you have suffered. Juries may award significantly higher damages than a low settlement offer.

Liability Disputes

If the defending party denies any liability for your injuries, settlement is unlikely. In these situations, a trial is necessary to establish their legal liability. At trial, you can present evidence and testimony to conclusively prove the defendant's negligence or wrongdoing. Once liability has been determined by a jury, settlement negotiations may proceed with the defendant in a more reasonable frame of mind.

Punitive Damages

In cases of particularly egregious conduct by the defending party, you may seek punitive damages to punish them and deter similar future behavior. Punitive damages are only awarded by juries at trial, not through settlement. The prospect of a jury awarding substantial punitive damages may motivate a defendant to settle, but if not, trial is the only option for punitive redress.

While the uncertainty and costs of trial should not be taken lightly, in some cases justice and fair compensation can only be achieved through litigation. If reasonable settlement cannot be reached, have confidence in the merits of your case and take it before a jury. With adequate preparation and a skilled trial attorney, you have a fair chance of success at trial.

How a Texas Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Decide

Evaluate Your Options

If you have been in a car accident in Texas, a personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options and determine whether settling or going to trial is in your best interest. They will review the details of your case, including the severity of injuries and damage, to determine the potential value. They can then negotiate directly with insurance companies on your behalf to try and reach an adequate settlement offer.

Determine Fault and Liability

To decide between settlement and trial, a lawyer will investigate the accident to determine who was at fault and the extent of liability. They will gather evidence like police reports, medical records, photos, and video to build a case. If fault and liability are clear, the at-fault party may be more willing to settle. If there are disputes over what happened, a trial may be required to establish liability.

Car accident cases can involve complex legal issues, especially if multiple parties are involved. A lawyer is experienced in handling matters of shared fault, uninsured motorists, and cross-claims between defendants. They can determine how laws like comparative negligence may impact a potential settlement or trial outcome. Without legal counsel, you may not get the full compensation you deserve or may settle for less than the case is worth.

Represent You in Court

If settlement negotiations fail or are unlikely to lead to fair compensation, a trial may be necessary. A lawyer can represent you in court, present arguments to a judge and jury, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and attempt to maximize the damages awarded to you. While risky, a trial often results in higher compensation than settlement, especially for severe, life-altering injuries. Your lawyer can advise you on the pros and cons of trial versus settlement based on the specifics of your case.

In summary, a Texas personal injury lawyer plays an essential role in helping victims of car accidents evaluate their options and determine whether settling a claim or pursuing a trial will lead to the fairest outcome. Their experience and expertise can help maximize compensation and avoid unfair settlements. For the best possible result, discuss your case details with a lawyer before agreeing to any settlement offered by insurance companies.


As you weigh the pros and cons of settlement versus trial, remember that every case has unique circumstances. Consider the risks, costs and time involved for your specific situation. Though settlements provide more control and certainty, trials open up the possibility of a more favorable verdict. Consult with your attorney from the lawyers at Fletcher Law to determine the best course based on the details of your case. With good counsel, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your goals. Though it may not seem clear-cut now, taking a thoughtful approach will lead you to the right resolution.