Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Lawsuit
The words “claim” and “lawsuit” get tossed around and misused a lot, especially when it comes to the practice of personal injury. These terms are not synonymous, but they are also not long-lost cousins. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, how do you know if a claim or a lawsuit is right for you?
Personal Injury Claim
In most personal injury cases, you don’t jump right to the lawsuit without first pursuing a claim. If you were injured in an auto accident, you can make a claim against the other driver’s or even your own insurance company to receive compensation for your damages. This will usually lead to discussions and negotiations with the insurance company’s adjuster about how much money you are owed. Both sides will eventually agree on a dollar amount and you will receive a settlement check.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If both sides cannot agree and negotiations come to a halt, then a lawsuit will be filed. A settlement is always favored, both by the insurance company and the courts, and is encouraged to be reached at any time during a lawsuit. Pursuing a lawsuit is time-consuming and expensive, but if a compromise still cannot be reached, then the case will go to trial. In trial, it will be up to the jury to decide the dollar amount the injured party receives (if any).
Do I really need an attorney to file a claim?
Common sense will tell you to seek legal representation if you are filing a lawsuit, but what about for a claim? Regardless of the severity of your injuries, you should always look for an experienced personal injury attorney to help you file your claim. Insurance companies have teams of experienced adjusters, investigators, and lawyers like trying to settle your case for as little money as possible. Even if you make your claim your full-time job, your knowledge and expertise will not match theirs.
Personal injury attorneys, however, dedicate their practice to helping clients like you. Experienced attorneys are well versed in the law, they know the rules, procedures, and weird kinks about the legal system. If you hire legal representation, you are more likely to receive a higher settlement than if you attempt to handle the case on your own.