Settlement

Parties to a lawsuit resolve their dispute without having a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in at least partial satisfaction of the other party's claims, but usually do not include the admission of fault.

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Answers.com

In law, a compromise or agreement between litigants to settle the matters in dispute between them in order to dispose of and conclude their litigation. Generally, as a result of the settlement, prosecution of the action is withdrawn or dismissed without any judgment being entered. The parties may, however, incorporate the terms of the settlement into a consent decree, recorded by the court. Most suits brought today are either withdrawn or settled.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

An agreement which resolves, sometimes by compromise, but which in any event concludes a dispute or litigation.

Historically, a settlement dealt with real property, especially where it was a gift, and had to include some transition of the property into a trust.

Law.com Dictionary

n. the resolution of a lawsuit (or of a legal dispute prior to filing a complaint or petition) without going forward to a final court judgment. Most settlements are achieved by negotiation in which the attorneys (and sometimes an insurance adjuster with authority to pay a settlement amount on behalf of the company's insured defendant) and the parties agree to terms of settlement. Many states require a settlement conference a few weeks before trial in an effort to achieve settlement with a judge or assigned attorneys to facilitate the process. A settlement is sometimes reached based upon a final offer just prior to trial (proverbially "on the courthouse steps") or even after trial has begun. A settlement reached just before trial or after a trial or hearing has begun is often "read into the record" and approved by the court so that it can be enforced as a judgment if the terms of the settlement are not complied with. Most lawsuits result in settlement.

Lect Law Library

Parties to a lawsuit resolve their difference without having a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in satisfaction of the other party's claims.

Legal-Dictionary.org

Resolving a dispute before the final decision of a judge or jury.

The Free (Legal) Dictionary

In civil lawsuits, settlement is an alternative to pursuing litigation through trial. Typically, it occurs when the defendant agrees to some or all of the plaintiff's claims and decides not to fight the matter in court. Usually, a settlement requires the defendant to pay the plaintiff some monetary amount. Popularly called settling out of court, a settlement agreement ends the litigation. Settlement is a popular option for several reasons, but a large number of cases are settled simply because defendants want to avoid the high cost of litigation. Settlement may occur before or during the early stages of a trial. In fact, simple settlements regularly take place before a lawsuit is even filed. In complex litigation, especially Class Action suits or cases involving multiple defendants, a settlement requires court approval.

Civil lawsuits originate when a claimant decides that another party has caused him or her injury and files suit. The plaintiff seeks to recover damages from the defendant. The defendant's attorney will evaluate the plaintiff's claim. If the plaintiff has a strong case and the attorney believes defendant is likely to lose, the attorney may recommend that the defendant settle the case. By settling, the defendant avoids the financial cost of litigating the case. Trials are often extremely expensive because of the amount of time required by attorneys, and even alternatives to trials, such as mediation and Arbitration, can be costly. In deciding whether to settle a claim, attorneys act as intermediaries. The parties to the suit must decide whether to offer, accept, or decline a settlement.

The cost of litigation is only one factor that encourages settlement. Both plaintiffs and defendants are often motivated to settle for other reasons. For one thing litigation is frequently unpleasant. The process of discovery—in which both sides solicit information from each other—can cause embarrassment because considerable personal and financial information must be released. Litigation can also have a harmful impact on the public reputation of the parties. Employers, for example, sometimes settle Sexual Harassment claims in order to avoid unwanted media exposure or damage to employee morale.

Like litigation itself, settlement is a process. Generally, the easiest time to settle a dispute is before litigation begins, but many opportunities for settlement present themselves. As litigation advances toward trial, attorneys for both sides communicate with each other and with the court and gauge the relative strength of their cases. If either of the parties believes he is unlikely to prevail, he is likely to offer a settlement to the other party.

Wikipedia

In law there are several main meanings of the word settlement. The most common meaning refers to when the parties to a dispute (both disputes that are being litigated before the courts, and disputes where court action has not been started) reach an agreement as to the case, which is said to 'settle' the claim.