Settlement Vs. Judgment

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A judgment is an official designation entered on a court's docket that signifies that a plaintiff has prevailed in his court case against the named defendant. A settlement is an agreement by both parties to the lawsuit that resolves their dispute prior to trial.


A settlement is an acknowledgment by both parties to a lawsuit that it is in their best interests to agree to resolve the dispute without continuing to litigate the matter in court.


A judgment is usually obtained after a trial on the merits before a judge or jury. In certain limited circumstances, upon request, a party may be granted summary judgment in his favor by the court without the need for a trial.


A judgment entitles a plaintiff to secure the full amount of money damages that he is seeking in his action against the defendant. Under the terms of most settlements, a defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a lesser sum.


A judgment for damages can be enforced against a defendant by using the postjudgment collection procedures available in court.

Time Frame

Settlement of a court case can occur at any time between the filing of a complaint up to and including the day scheduled for trial. Due to the normal posturing that occurs between the parties prior to negotiation of a mutually acceptable settlement agreement, it is not uncommon for a settlement in civil cases to occur on the courthouse steps on the day of trial.

About the Author

John Barron started freelancing in 2008. Barron writes articles on topics including law, business and finance for various websites. He is an attorney with over 22 years experience in all phases of civil litigation, and corporate and securities law. Barron received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and political science from Boston University and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.