How Are Claims Different From a Lawsuit?
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Apr 29, 2022 in Personal Injury
After suffering any injury, your first priority should always be to get the medical care you need. However, if the injury was caused by negligence, the at-fault person should be the one to pay for your damages.
You may know there are legal actions you can take, but do you file a claim or a lawsuit? Are they the same thing? If not, how are claims different from lawsuits, and which one is right for your situation?
At Goldberg Finnegan, we understand that the thought of recovering damages on your own may be daunting. However, we can answer your questions, discuss what happened and explain your legal options. Our personal injury lawyers in Silver Spring are experienced, qualified and ready to help.
Not sure if you have a claim? No problem. We offer a free case review to help you find out at no risk or obligation to you. Simply call our law firm anytime, night or day, and our intake staff can arrange it for you.
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What is a Personal Injury Claim?
People often use the terms, "claim" and "lawsuit" interchangeably. However, they are actually two different legal actions. A personal injury is what happens when an accident, error or negligent act causes someone to get hurt. A claim is a legal demand to that at-fault party's insurance company to pay for the injured victim's damages.
The legal process of a claim involves you and your attorney, the at-fault party and his or her attorney, and the insurance company. The court system is not involved because it is not a lawsuit.
A personal injury claim can result from many types of accidents, including:
- Car crashes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Dog bites
- Slip and fall incidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Truck crashes
- Defective product injuries
- And more
So regardless of the type of accident, a claim is a legal way to get compensated for the damages caused by the at-fault party.
Filing a Claim Against the Insurance Company
Most people carry car insurance, homeowner’s insurance or some form of general liability insurance. These policies help to provide protection in case the policyholder is assessed liability for a car crash, slip and fall on their property or another injury.
When You Should File
After seeking immediate medical care to stabilize your injuries, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer to learn if you may have a valid claim.
If you do have a claim, we strongly recommend working with a qualified attorney. Having an attorney working to recover your damages can benefit your claim in many ways, especially since they are prepared to:
- Investigate your accident and how it happened
- Gather evidence that supports your claim
- Help you avoid making errors that could hurt your claim
- Deal with the insurance company on your behalf
Once you file your claim, the insurance company will also investigate the accident. They will be looking for any reason to place some blame on you for what happened. If they succeed in proving you were even slightly at fault, you will not have a claim. This is where having an attorney to argue your claim and fight to protect your interests can really help.
Should You Accept or Reject an Offer?
There are many steps involved in a personal injury claim. At some point early in the process the insurance company will make an offer to settle your claim.
This initial offer is likely to be much lower than what your claim is worth. Accepting an early offer could leave you paying for the remaining medical costs and damages out of your own pocket. This is especially true if you have not yet reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI) point.
What If the Parties Cannot Agree on a Settlement?
When negotiations for your settlement begin, your attorney will send a demand letter requesting full payment for your damages. The insurance company will likely respond with a lower figure. This negotiation can go back and forth until the parties agree on what amount of compensation is fair given your injuries, medical costs and other losses.
In all, the damages you could be eligible to receive include:
- All reasonable and related medical expenses
- Lost wages if you miss work while recovering
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Travel to and from your medical appointments
- Medical devices, such as crutches or a wheelchair
- Prescription costs for pain management, etc.
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
When Does a Claim Become a Lawsuit?
If a settlement cannot be reached during the claims process, then filing a lawsuit is your next legal course of action. Going to court costs both sides money, so often the act of filing may be enough to get the other side to agree to a fair settlement.
Due to the costs incurred, court litigation is usually more beneficial for victims who have sustained significant injuries. In court, both sides will present their argument to the judge and a jury. After both sides have finished presenting their case, the jury will decide the outcome. The settlement award could be more than you were asking for, less, or nothing at all.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Claim Versus a Lawsuit?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both legal processes.
Pros and Cons of an Insurance Claim
If you agree to a settlement, you will often get the money you need faster and without the added expense of going to court. The disadvantage is that you will have to negotiate with the insurance company, and they make decisions based on their best interests, not yours. This means that they will do what they can to minimize what they pay on your claim.
Pros and Cons of a Lawsuit
If you end up going to court, you have the opportunity to present your case before a neutral jury. If they decide in your favor, they may award more compensation than you would have gotten in a settlement. However, it costs more money to go to trial. It could also take months or years for your case to complete. There is also no guarantee that you will receive a larger award or any award at all. You could go through that entire process and end up with nothing.
In a claim or lawsuit, injury victims often get significantly more compensation with an attorney than those who go it alone. An attorney understands the complexities of the law and knows how to develop a strategy to improve your chances for a favorable outcome.
Our Trusted Law Firm is Ready to Help You. Call Today
At Goldberg Finnegan, we have been representing injured victim for decades. We have a strong history of results, recovering more than $130 million on behalf of our clients. We are always prepared to go to trial, and that is not true of every law firm.
Many people are concerned about the costs of hiring an attorney. However, we only take personal injury cases on contingency. This means there is nothing to pay up front or while we work on your case. We do not get paid unless you do, so there is no risk to you.
Call (888) 213-8140 for experienced legal help today.