If you have been injured due to another party acting negligently, then you might have cause for a personal injury claim or lawsuit – but what is the difference? They are often used interchangeably but there are a few important differences. Read on to learn what they are and then contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation.
Personal Injury Claims
If someone caused you to suffer an injury, then you can bring a personal injury claim against them and/or their insurer. You give the insurance company the information they need about the cause and circumstances that resulted in your accident, as well as the costs you believe should be reimbursed. This will include medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage, and other costs.
Once you have filed the claim, the insurance company will give it a claim number and review the information you have provided. In most cases, they will come back and offer a settlement. This will likely be less than you were asking for. You can then accept the offer or negotiate to get an offer that is fair. All of this is handled by your personal injury attorney.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
It is actually very rare for a case to get to the point of a lawsuit. It is even rarer for a person to file a lawsuit without first filing a claim. In most cases, if a case gets to the point of litigation it is because the attorneys for the defense and plaintiff were not able to come to an agreement on a settlement. There are many steps required to file a lawsuit that are not part of the process of filing an injury claim.
For example, the plaintiff needs to file a petition with the court, have the defendant served with the lawsuit, make depositions, order and copy transcripts of medical records, police records, witness statements, and other statements, and get expert testimony from medical experts and/or accident reconstruction experts as required.
When Claims Turn into Lawsuits
As noted above, the main reason that a claim turns into a lawsuit is that the claim is not settled. This is very rare for a number of reasons. First, it costs much more to go to court than it does to settle the case – for both parties. Second, it can take many months, or even years, to get a case through the court system. Your attorney can help you determine if you should settle or go to court. In most cases, it will come down to how different the numbers are.
For example, if you suffered a serious injury and the at-fault party’s insurance company is willing to come within a few thousand dollars of what you are asking, then it is likely best to take the settlement. On the other hand, if they are refusing to admit their insured was at fault or are only offer 20% of your actual damages, then it might make sense to take the case to court.