Claim vs. Lawsuit

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Claim vs. Lawsuit

Claim vs. Lawsuit

With the endless amount of legal information available online, it is common to come across the terms “claim” and “lawsuit.” In many places, you will see these terms used interchangeably. However, claims and lawsuits are not the same — even though they share similarities.  

Claims and lawsuits are distinct types of legal actions designed to help you get compensation for your injuries after an accident. If you have legal questions about whether you need to file a claim or lawsuit, then it is important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.

What Are Claims?

Submitting an insurance claim is often the first step that people take after being injured in an accident. When someone makes a claim, they are letting the insurance company know that they got hurt in an accident and that the insurance company is responsible for their damages.

You might submit an insurance claim after suffering an injury in a car accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice event, or other injury-causing incident. In most cases, you will submit your personal injury claim to the insurer of the at-fault party. However, in some cases, you might submit your injury claim to your own insurer, such as after a car accident.

When making an insurance claim, you might be dealing with several people who work for the insurance company, including insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, and others. It is important to understand that these people are not your friends; they are paid to defend the insurance company’s interests. 

If you are not able to come to an appropriate settlement agreement with the insurance company, then you will likely need to file a lawsuit in court.

Why You Should or Shouldn’t File a Claim

Claims can be superior to lawsuits for several reasons. If your case is fairly straightforward and the facts are not in dispute, then a claim might be beneficial to you. In this case, an insurer will look towards a settlement to minimize their risk.

Reasons why you might want to file a claim over a lawsuit include:

  • Court costs are typically lower
  • Attorney fees are typically lower
  • Quicker resolutions
  • Fewer unknowns

A personal injury claim can be a quicker and more efficient way to recover many of your damages after an accident. The insurer could reimburse you for your economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages. Moreover, you might be eligible to recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering, depending on the type of accident and the severity of your injuries.

Reasons why you might want to file a lawsuit over a claim include:

  • You force the insurance company to react
  • Claim negotiations were unsuccessful
  • Your case will be decided by a judge or jury

Every case is different. It is important to decide what to do based on the facts and circumstances of your case.

What Are Lawsuits?

Often, when the insurance claim approach fails, the next step is a personal injury lawsuit in court. To win your lawsuit, you will have to show the court that you are entitled to damages for your injuries. Most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. A select few are based on the concept of strict liability.

The biggest difference here is who makes the final decision regarding liability and payment. When you make an insurance claim, the insurance company has all the power. When you file a lawsuit, the power is with the judge or jury. 

Why You Should or Shouldn’t File a Lawsuit

Usually, people file insurance claims first. If their claim is unsuccessful, then they file a lawsuit. The outcome of a lawsuit will likely preclude you from making an insurance claim.

However, sometimes you need to skip over making a claim and go straight to a lawsuit. 

Reasons why you might take this approach:

  • Lack of trust in the insurance company
  • You are entitled to more money than the insurance company is willing to offer
  • You might be eligible for non-economic and punitive damages

Reasons why you might choose a claim over a lawsuit include:

  • Lawsuits take longer
  • Lawsuits are more expensive
  • Lawsuits move slower through the court

Insurance companies are required to act when they are served with a lawsuit. They don’t have to work with you or do anything if a claim is made. Make sure you have your case evaluated by an experienced personal injury attorney to know your best options.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You

Having the help of an experienced attorney can be invaluable. An attorney can help you in many ways, including:

  • Calculating the full extent of your losses due to the accident
  • Work with experts to strengthen your case
  • Negotiate with the insurance company and other at-fault parties
  • Take your case to trial under the strongest legal theory if settlement negotiations break down.

An experienced attorney can also locate and obtain evidence that can help your case. If you have questions, contact a New York City personal injury attorney for help.