Lawsuit vs. Claim
The difference between a claim and a lawsuit
If you’ve been injured and it wasn’t your fault — whether it is a car accident, trip at work, or in a more serious incident — you may be wondering how you should go about seeking compensation for your injury. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, there may be a few paths to resolution. An attorney can help you navigate your options.
The two primary avenues for recovery are personal injury claims and personal injury lawsuits. While they do share some characteristics, they are separate processes that can lead to different outcomes, and it’s important to know the difference.
An injury claim and an insurance claim are the same thing. This can be filed with either your insurance or the other party’s insurer, as in the case of a car accident or injury on another person’s property. In most cases, filing a claim with the other party’s insurance will require proof of fault or negligence.
It may seem early, but talking with a lawyer at this early stage can help avoid problems down the line. A professional attorney can help you quickly submit or provide notice of a claim. Your attorney will also be there to help you evaluate decisions as the process unfolds.
After the claim is filed, the insurance company will begin an investigation. This usually involves reviewing records, obtaining medical reports, and interviewing witnesses. Once the company makes its determination of fault and damages, it will decide whether to pay out and if so how much. Insurance companies will try to limit payments as much as possible. This means the company will try to prove that you were not hurt in the accident or that it was not the fault of the person the company covers.
That’s why it’s so important to document all the circumstances around your injury, including medical reports, symptoms, photographs, and any other relevant documentation. It’s also important to consult a personal injury attorney about how best to use that evidence to support your case.
In many cases, the insurance company will look for a settlement so the case will not go to formal litigation and trial. But in some cases, a settlement cannot be reached, and then the case can progress to a lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuit
A lawsuit is essentially asking a court and sometimes a jury to make conclusions about the value of your case. In the case of a personal injury lawsuit, it’s asking the court to look at the evidence, apply the law to determine who is at fault, and award damages based on the evidence.
If a settlement can’t be reached with the other party, a lawyer can file a lawsuit for you. These cases can take months or years. In a lawsuit, the person bringing the claim – also known as the Plaintiff — must use the evidence to prove negligence and show that the other party is to blame for your injury. In order to award damages, the jury has to be convinced that, more likely than not, the defending party was negligent.
The first step is filing the initial paperwork, or the Petition. This is promptly followed by written discovery. This is when all the documents are gathered on both sides to establish the facts of a case. This phase also includes depositions, when the parties take the statements of each other, witnesses, doctors, and others under oath. If the other party, or their attorney, try to contact you during this phase of the case, you should not speak to them and you should immediately let your attorney know.
During discovery, either party may try to reach a settlement again. But if that doesn’t happen, the case proceeds to trial, when all the evidence is presented before the jury and judge. If the jury finds in favor of the Plaintiff, they will next decide on the damages owed. Either party can appeal the ruling if they disagree, which can make the process take even longer.
For the average person, especially while recovering from an injury, this process can be overwhelming. But with an attorney to advocate for you and keep you informed of your best options, it can be a much more manageable process. With an attorney, you can come out with the results you deserve.