What’s the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and Lawsuit?
You were hit by a drunk driver. You ended up in the hospital with a broken leg and whiplash. The other driver was plainly at fault, and the police report supports that assertion. You deserve compensation for the injuries you sustained in the accident, but you’re confused.
Do you pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit?
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is the same as an insurance claim. So if you file a personal injury claim, you are filing a claim with the insurance company—in this case, the company providing insurance to the at-fault party, which was the drunk driver.
There are other possibilities as well. If you fell because of a broken or missing railing at a rental property, commercial property, or home, for instance, you may file a claim with the property owner’s insurance company. Or if you were misdiagnosed by your doctor, you may file a claim with his or her professional liability insurance policy.
A personal injury claim, then, does not involve the court system. It’s wise, however, to work with a personal injury attorney on the claim, as he or she will protect your interests, whereas the insurance company is most interested in protecting its bottom line.
To proceed with an insurance claim, you (and your attorney) will work together to collect evidence of fault, your injuries, and your damages to submit the claim to the insurance company involved. The company will then examine the evidence and potentially provide you with a settlement offer, though it could also decide to pay you very little or nothing. If the settlement offer is too low (or nonexistent), your attorney can negotiate on your behalf toward a fairer outcome.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
There are many reasons that an experienced personal injury attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit including: you are unable to reach a settlement on your claim, the lawsuit may help to preserve information about responsibility for the crash, or the person who caused your injuries will not respond to your requests for insurance information.
Most commonly, a personal injury lawsuit is filed if you cannot reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company, or the insurance company denies your claim. However, you may file a lawsuit at any time during the claim process. You do not want to delay in this regard because time limitations do apply to filing a lawsuit.
When you file a lawsuit, you decide to take the other party to court because your claim didn’t result in a fair payment. It is similar to a personal injury claim since you’re still seeking compensation for your injuries from the same at-fault party, but this time, instead of going through the insurance companies only, you go through a legal process.
That means you must prove to a judge or jury that the at-fault party was negligent and that his or her negligence directly resulted in your injuries. It is a more complicated process, but it does give you another option to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Due to the expenses, time, and risk involved in trial, most parties to a lawsuit choose to negotiate a settlement after the lawsuit has been filed but sometime before the trial occurs.
An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through this process and ensure that filing and other court deadlines are met during the litigation of your lawsuit and conduct important questioning of the responsible person to ensure your right to recovery is protected.