What’s the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Lawsuit?
The terms, “personal injury claim,” and “personal injury lawsuit,” are often used interchangeably. However, while both claims and lawsuits involve seeking damages for injuries from an at-fault party, the two processes have some stark differences.
A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM: THE START OF THE RECOVERY PROCESS
The recovery process begins with the filing of a personal injury claim, which is a claim filed with the insurance company of the at-fault party. Or if the party does not have insurance, then a claim under your Uninsured Motorist Coverage. For example, if you suffer a slip and fall accident due to a defect on your neighbor’s property, you would file a claim for compensation for your injuries with your neighbor’s homeowners’ insurance company – this is a personal injury claim.
Throughout the claims process, your attorney and the insurance adjuster will exchange evidence, and negotiate for a settlement amount. A personal injury claim does not involve the courts; instead, the process is limited to you, the other party, the other party’s insurer, and any lawyers representing the parties.
A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT: WHEN NEGOTIATIONS BREAK DOWN
When negotiations break down between your lawyer and an insurance adjuster and a settlement cannot be reached, you may need to turn to the courts to recover the compensation that you deserve. This is the beginning of the personal injury lawsuit phase, when you take the at-fault party to court to recover damages. If your injuries and losses are very serious and the insurance company refuses to negotiate, you may even go to trial. It is essential that you file your lawsuit within three years of your accident, otherwise you may be barred by the Statue of Limitations.
Going to court is typically a last-resort option, as going to court is expensive, time consuming, and potentially emotional. Lawsuits should only be pursued when the insurance company fails to make reasonable settlement offers.
DO I NEED A LAWYER?
If you are injured in Albuquerque and want to recover damages for your injuries, working with a lawyer is highly recommended. Your lawyer will be responsible for handling the personal injury claim process for you, including calculating your damages and negotiating for a settlement. In many cases, insurance companies are eager to settle if they know that you are serious about going to court if settlement cannot be reached; your attorney will make it clear that a lawsuit is an option if the insurance company is unwilling to pay you what you deserve.
Of course, a lawyer also organizes your claim and documents, gathers evidence, and guide you through the legal system. While having a lawyer is not a requirement, hiring a lawyer can significantly improve your chances of recovering your full compensation amount.
CONTACT OUR LAW OFFICES TODAY
At the Law Offices of Allan L. Wainwright, our experienced Albuquerque personal injury lawyer is here to advocate for you. We prioritize out-of-court settlements to save you time and money, but have the trial experience your case deserves when filing a lawsuit makes sense.
To learn more about our process and how we can help, call our law firm today. We are reachable online or by phone at 888-313-7452. Your initial consultation with our law office is completely free.