Understanding the Difference Between a Truck Accident Settlement and a Verdict

How serious are accidents involving big rig trucks? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the minimum amount of liability insurance that a trucker must carry is between $750,000 and $5,000,000 (depending on what’s being transported).

An accident claim can generate a remedy for the victims in that range of amounts and possibly even more if you factor in punitive damages. Understanding the difference between a truck accident settlement and a verdict could impact the final compensation number.

The Verdict

A verdict is the conclusion of a trial. It will come from a jury or directly from a judge, a.k.a., the court.

This outcome only occurs after both sides in a case have a chance to present and challenge the evidence and summarize the case. Accident victims are the plaintiffs, and the trucker, trucking company, or insurance carrier being sued are the defendants in a court case.

Keep in mind that when seeking a monetary reward, your case will be presented in a civil court. There could be a separate criminal trial that pertains to negligent acts that break the law, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or speeding.

Most anything that happens in civil court is also part of the public record. That means anyone can access the transcripts and the final verdict.

A verdict can also be used as a precedent. In other words, any amount awarded as compensation could become a standard for how much others receive as a monetary award in a truck accident case.

The Settlement

A settlement is an official agreement between the plaintiff and defendant outside of a civil trial. That settlement can happen at any time in the claim process. It could come after the first demand letter if filed by your attorney or in the middle of a trial. The majority of accident rewards are settled out of court during what’s referred to as the pre-litigation phase.

Unlike a verdict, you can’t appeal a settlement. Once you agree to it and the amount is paid, the case is officially closed. You can’t go back and sue for more money even if your injuries become worse.

Reasons To Settle a Truck Accident Case Out of Court

The two main reasons why many accident victims opt to settle their claim through pre-litigation have to do with time and costs.

If you settle, you can receive payment within several days of signing an agreement. If you win a large jury verdict, the defendants have the right to appeal, which could drag out the case for months, if not years. Those extended court cases can also be expensive.

Even if your truck accident attorney is getting paid on a contingency, it will mean less of the final reward going to you.

Here are some other reasons to consider for a settlement in a truck accident case:

  • The ability to negotiate a final settlement amount to match your needs
  • Keeping the matter private
  • Uncertainty about the outcome of a trial

Reasons for Going to Trail

Deciding to go to trial with your personal injury claim could start with the unwillingness of an insurance carrier to offer you a fair settlement.

If the truck driver responsible for your accident is found extremely negligent, the judge could add punitive damages to the final verdict. Those serve as a punishment for that driver and a message to prevent them from committing the same accident again.

If you do opt for a trial, your lawyer will gather and present the evidence to support your case. Statistics compiled by the FMCSA show that the average cost of a non-fatal injury crash averages around $195,258 and that a fatal accident carries with it a $3,000,000 expense.

That means there’s a lot at stake in these trials.

Deciding Whether To Settle Your Truck Accident Case Out of Court or At Trial

Getting informed is the only way to decide if a settlement or pursuing a verdict is the best option if a truck accident has seriously hurt you. Our team at the Trucking Injury Law Group can examine the merits of your collision and help you conclude the best way forward.

Call to set up that first free consultation to discuss what happened.