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Understanding the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Lawsuit

Posted on October 07, 2020
Understanding the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Lawsuit

Personal injury claims and lawsuits are used to seek compensation for injuries resulting from accidents. However, while claims are often the initial step when pursuing compensation, lawsuits take place in court if settlements aren’t reached with a claim.

There are certain aspects to keep in mind when deciding whether to file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. Understanding how they differ can help determine which step to take in a personal injury case.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

Injury claims entail injury victims filing claims with either the at-fault party’s insurer or their own insurance company with the goal of recovering compensation.  There are several types of insurance policies that claims may be against, including auto insurance, professional liability, or homeowners’ insurance policies.

After the victim files a claim, the insurance company assigns an insurance adjuster to the case. The company investigates the accident and the nature of the injuries sustained and the adjuster communicates with the victim and/or the victim’s injury lawyer to negotiate a statement. In the process, adjusters also often look over medical records and police reports.

The insurance company is not out for the victim’s best interests and will likely try to minimize payout for the claim. Claimants should only speak to the insurance company under the advice of a personal injury attorney to ensure that their statement doesn’t hurt their ability to recover compensation. In some cases, attorneys may communicate with the adjuster on behalf of the claimant.

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If the claimant is unable to reach a favorable settlement with the insurance company during initial negotiations, his or her injury attorney may file a lawsuit in civil court to help the victim recover compensation. Injured victims may also file lawsuits if wrongful death or catastrophic injuries occurred, or if they’re near the end of the case’s statute of limitations.

To win in court, the claimant who serves as the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit needs to prove that the at-fault party, or defendant, was negligent and is directly responsible for the injuries sustained.

Personal injury lawsuits consist of multiple steps from filing to the final verdict and it can take months or even years to reach a settlement or for a verdict to be obtained.

Knowing the differences between claims and lawsuits can help determine which is best to file based on the circumstances of a case.