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A Legal Settlement
A settlement is a contract that is one possible result when parties sue (or contemplate so doing) each other in civil courts, usually seeking money as reparations for the alleged wrongdoing of the defendants. The plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) identified in the lawsuit can agree to resolve the dispute between themselves without a trial. The resolution of the lawsuit sets forth the obligations of the parties, and is often made effective by an order of the court after a joint stipulation by the parties. In other situations (as where the claims have been satisfied by the payment of a certain sum of money) the plaintiff and defendant can simply file a notice that the case has been dismissed.
The majority of cases are decided by a legal settlement. Both sides often have a strong incentive to settle to avoid the costs (such as legal fees, finding expert witnesses, etc.), associated with a trial, particularly where a trial by jury is available. Generally, one side or the other will make a settlement offer early in litigation. The parties may hold (and indeed, the court may require) a settlement conference, at which they attempt to reach such an agreement.
In controversial cases, a settlement agreement may require both sides to keep its contents and all other information relevant to the case confidential. Confidentiality is not possible in class action cases in the United States, where all settlements are subject to approval by the court pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and counterpart rules adopted in most states.
In criminal matters, a settlement is referred to as a plea bargain.
While most claims are settled before they reach court, when a case is more involved it may require the use of an "attorney" or a "lawyer". In the case of insurance companies, they may be more inclined to settle a case out of court to save on costs. Depending on the case, a person may deal directly with the company in question to come to a reasonable financial settlement without using an "attorney".
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