Personal Injury Claim vs. Personal Injury Lawsuit
When looking on the internet at different legal and law firm websites, you will often see the terms claim and lawsuit used a lot. Often, you will also see these terms used interchangeably. Even though a claim and a lawsuit can begin from the same occurrence or accident, they are different legal terms that have different meanings in how they operate.
If you are curious about whether a claim or a lawsuit is more appropriate for your case, then it is important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney near you who can give you the correct advice.
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What is a Personal Injury Claim?
If you are hurt in a car accident and the person who is at fault for the accident has insurance, then your first option would typically be to file a claim with the insurance company. When you file a claim, you are dealing directly with that insurance company and nobody else.
Your claim will be handled exclusively by the insurance company and their claims adjuster. The claims adjuster will inspect and investigate your claim and make a decision about whether to accept the claim as is, make a counteroffer, or reject the claim entirely.
It is important that you prove fault and liability when making your claim, so it is recommended that you have an attorney assist you, so you don’t leave money on the table.
The Pros and Cons of Filing a Claim
When you file a claim, you are effectively choosing to avoid filing a lawsuit in court for the time being to see if you can settle your claim without having to go to court. Many times, filing a claim is required before you can pursue civil litigation with a lawsuit.
There are a number of benefits to filing a claim, including:
- Saving money on court courts
- Saving money on attorney fees, and
- You can get paid faster.
There are also some drawbacks to filing a claim instead of a lawsuit, they include:
- There is no requirement that the insurance company acts quickly (outside of good faith practice requirements)
- Your settlement offer might not be enough to cover your expenses, and
- The insurance company makes the final call on what your personal injury case is worth.
Filing a claim with the insurance company might be as far as you need to go in your case. If you can’t settle your case with a claim to the insurance company, then you will likely need to file a lawsuit to receive the monetary compensation you deserve.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A lawsuit is a claim that is filed in court. If you are unable to reach a settlement agreement with an insurance company because of their refusal to pay or if your costs exceed policy limits, then your best option is likely a lawsuit.
You will present a lot of the evidence in a similar way in a lawsuit, but the ultimate decision on what you are entitled to will be made by either a judge or jury. The insurance company, in this case, becomes the defendant in your legal action against them and their insured.
You can also file a lawsuit against any party that directly or indirectly contributed to your accident and caused you to get hurt.
The Pros and Cons of Filing a Lawsuit
When you file a lawsuit, you are taking the case to a court and bypassing the insurance claim process. Typically, you don’t file a lawsuit until you have already tried making an insurance claim.
Some of the benefits of filing a lawsuit instead of an insurance claim include:
- A neutral party makes the ultimate decisions in your case
- You may receive substantially more money, and
- You open the potential to receiving punitive damages if applicable to your case.
There are also some drawbacks to filing a lawsuit instead of a claim, they include:
- Your legal expenses can go up
- You don’t know the final result, and
- Your case can take a while to resolve – sometimes years.
Sometimes, you are simply not able to avoid filing a lawsuit when dealing with an accident. If the insurance company is being unreasonable or uncooperative, then the best way to force them to pay what they owe is to file a lawsuit in court.
It is important to have an experienced attorney’s advice when deciding how to approach your personal injury case.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You Decide the Best Path Forward
It is not expected that you have the experience and knowledge to make an effective claim or file an effective lawsuit if you are hurt in an accident.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help you in several ways including:
- Free case valuation
- Experienced negotiation tactics
- Compiling all of the evidence need to file the most effective claim or lawsuit
Knowledge is power; having an attorney on your side who understands how these cases operate, and how insurance companies operate when you make a claim with them can make a world of difference in your case outcome.
If you have been hurt in an accident, then you probably have a lot of questions about what happens next. If you have questions about the claim or lawsuit process and how it can help you win your personal injury case, then contact our personal injury lawyer near you for a free consultation, or call (817) 420-7000 so you can have your questions answered by an experienced professional at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC.