Claim vs Lawsuit

If you’ve been injured in some type of accident as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, you may be facing medical expenses, lost income, and emotional trauma. In these situations, you have legal recourse; you may have the option of filing a claim or lawsuit, depending on the circumstances. 

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they represent different steps in the process of seeking compensation, and it’s important to understand the differences.

What is a Claim?

What is a Claim?

A claim is typically the initial step you take when seeking compensation for your damages after being injured by another party’s actions or inaction. For example, you may initiate a claim if you’re hurt in a car accident or a slip and fall. These legal actions are generally taken with the at-fault party’s insurance company. 

The Process of Filing a Personal Injury Claim

To file a claim after an injury, begin by notifying the at-fault party’s insurance provider. You’ll need to provide key details about the accident and your injuries.

Crucial documentation and information required for filing a claim will commonly include: 

  • A detailed account of the incident explaining how, where, and when it occurred
  • Names and contact details of any involved parties or witnesses
  • Medical records illustrating injuries sustained due to the accident
  • Police reports (if available)
  • Photos or videos showing the accident and/or the scene

In addition to contacting the other party’s insurer and filing a claim, you should notify your own insurance company about the accident and how you’ve decided to proceed.

Negotiate With the Insurance Company

The negotiation process is a critical phase following the filing of a claim. You will negotiate with the opposing party’s insurance company to reach an agreement regarding compensation for damages incurred. Skilled negotiation involves presenting clear evidence backed by strong documentation. 

While you are permitted to handle this situation on your own, a lawyer can significantly improve your chances of negotiating effectively and receiving what you’re truly entitled to. 

Your lawyer can objectively evaluate your claim’s worth. They’ll ensure that you understand all damages that might be available, including issues you may face in the future that warrant compensation.

If negotiations with the insurance company stall, it may be time to escalate the matter by initiating a lawsuit. 

What is a Lawsuit?

In terms of personal injury law, a lawsuit is a formal legal action initiated in a court of law after one party, the plaintiff, files a complaint against another party – the defendant. The defendant is the party that the plaintiff is alleging is at fault for the accident and any subsequent injuries.

The Process of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

To officially initiate this process, you must draft and submit legal documents – referred to as a “complaint” in civil court. This action specifies terms about the injury suffered and what you’re seeking. Unless you’re educated in the legal field, it’s a good idea to work with an attorney to ensure you get what you’re entitled to after an accident. 

Once the lawsuit is filed and the complaint is officially submitted to the court and served on the defendant, an important pre-trial litigation phase known as “discovery” commences. Here, both sides gather information from each other and carry out negotiations in hopes of settling the case without actually having to go to trial. If an agreement still can’t be reached, the case goes to trial.

Should I File a Claim or Lawsuit? How to Decide 

Deciding between filing a claim or pursuing a lawsuit can be one of the most important decisions you face after suffering an injury caused by another person’s negligence. 

Here’s what you need to consider when making this decision: 

Evaluate the Nature and Severity of Your Injury

The severity and extent of your injury are pivotal factors in deciding whether to file a claim with an insurance company or take the matter further by filing a lawsuit. 

Severe injuries calling for ongoing medical attention, significant loss of income, or a lasting disability typically demand considerable financial compensation. This might only be attainable through litigation, as insurance policies have a cap on what they will pay out.

Conversely, relatively minor injuries that don’t lead to significant long-term financial burdens may be resolved by filing an insurance claim.

Assess Offers From Insurance Companies

When interacting with insurance companies, it’s not uncommon for initial settlement offers to be on the lower end of what your claim is worth. 

If, after thorough negotiations, you find that the insurance company’s offer still does not align with your damages, it could be necessary to move forward with a lawsuit. Doing so will allow you to pursue fair compensation that truly covers the full extent of your losses and injuries. 

Consider Your Personal Goals and Timelines

It’s important to think about your end goals and the timing when choosing between a claim or a lawsuit. Lawsuits typically involve long legal proceedings, which can stretch over months or even years before reaching a resolution.

Depending on your individual circumstances – immediate financial strains from medical expenses, lost income, and maintaining family stability – opting for the typically faster resolution of an insurance claim could make more sense for you. 

However, bear in mind that this speed may come at the cost of accepting less than what you could potentially recover through a successful lawsuit.

Speak With a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Regarding Filing a Claim vs. Lawsuit

Before making decisions on how to pursue compensation for your injury, consult a personal injury lawyer at The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd Personal Injury Lawyers. These legal experts will provide an assessment of your case, advise you on its potential strengths and weaknesses, and offer guidance based on their many years of experience.

If you need help after an accident, we’re here for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers at 281-992-8633.