In personal injury law, the words “claim” and “lawsuit” are often used interchangeably. However, the terms have vastly different meanings. This article will explore the differences between the two.
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What is a Claim?
A claim is an assertion that another party is responsible for an injury victim’s injuries or damages.
In a car accident case, an accident victim might file a claim against another driver’s insurance company. The claim alleges that the other driver caused the accident, and the accident caused the person to sustain injuries and damages. Therefore, the accident victim demands compensation for damages.
A person may file a claim with a company, government agency, or other party alleging damages.
For instance, someone who slips and falls in a grocery store might file a slip and fall claim with the corporation that owns the grocery store. Or, a person might file a claim with the city after an accident involving a city bus. Residents injured in nursing homes would file a claim for damages with the owner of the nursing home.
Most personal injury cases are settled through the claims process. Injury victims usually file claims before lawsuits.
What Steps Are Involved in the Claims Process?
In most cases, an accident victim files their claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance provider. The insurer assigns an insurance adjuster to investigate the accident. Some insurance claims may be quickly settled through a settlement offer.
The insurance company makes a settlement offer to compensate you for your injury. NOTE: If you accept the settlement offer, your claim ends. You give up the right to file a lawsuit or seek additional compensation for your injuries and damages. Therefore, you may want to seek legal counsel before accepting a settlement offer. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation for such situations.
When you hire a personal injury lawyer, your attorney handles all communications with the insurance company. Your attorney investigates the accident, files insurance claims, and calculates the maximum value for your damages.
Your attorney prepares a demand letter outlining the facts of the case and why you should be compensated for your injury. The insurance company tries to pay as little as possible to settle your claim. Your attorney handles the negotiations with the insurance company to recover fair compensation.
If the insurance company refuses to accept liability or negotiate a fair settlement amount, your attorney will discuss the pros and cons of filing a personal injury lawsuit. While filing a lawsuit is never a guarantee of recovering compensation, there are cases in which filing a lawsuit is in the client’s best interest.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If your injury claim involves a dispute regarding fault or liability, you may need to file a lawsuit to resolve the matter. A lawsuit is a civil legal action. A judge or jury decides the outcome of the case.
Most personal injury cases are heard by juries. A panel of jurors listens to the evidence of both parties during a trial. Then, the jurors decide whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
If the jury decides in favor of the plaintiff, the jurors award an amount for damages. If the jury decides in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff does not receive any money for damages. Either party may appeal the jury’s decision if they are not satisfied with the trial’s outcome.
Some lawsuits are settled before the case goes to trial. During the discovery phase, both parties gather additional information and evidence. The discovery phase allows both parties to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. At the end of the discovery phase, the parties may negotiate a settlement. For example, an insurance company might decide that it does not want to risk a jury trial.
A personal injury lawsuit can take more than a year to complete. Complex cases could take more time. Many factors impact a personal injury lawsuit timeline, including the issues involved and the court’s schedule.
The costs of a personal injury lawsuit can also be expensive. Therefore, a careful analysis of your options is strongly recommended before proceeding with a lawsuit. Unfortunately, some cases cannot be settled except through a trial.
Florida’s statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing lawsuits seeking compensation for damages. If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline, you lose the right to pursue your claim through the courts.
Contact Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If another party injured you, our Florida personal injury attorneys at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers, P.A. are here to help you seek compensation for your damages. Contact our law firm in Miami, FL by calling (305) 937-0191 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible injury claim and personal injury lawsuit.