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.

Function

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.

Features

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.

Significance

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.

Effects

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.