Personal Injury: Filing a Claim v. Filing a Lawsuit
When you are injured as a result of the negligence or recklessness of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. Chances are, the at-fault party has insurance that will ultimately compensate you for your property damage and the injuries you have sustained. But in order to get the money damages you deserve, you need to hire an experienced accident attorney and pursue your case.
Most accident victims think the best way to get compensation for their injuries is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or trying to negotiate a settlement. However, it is important to understand that a personal injury claim and personal injury lawsuit are separate and distinct from one another. It is important to understand which one best applies to your specific situation.
(We use the example of a car accident, but the information in this article applies to all types of personal injury cases, including slip and falls, dog bites, bicycle accidents, etc.)
Difference Between a Claim and Lawsuit
Personal Injury Claim
A personal injury claim is between you and the at-fault motorist’s insurance carrier, before any lawsuit is considered. The claims process involves a series of negotiations between your accident attorney and the insurance carrier’s claims adjuster. Most accident claims are resolved during the negotiations process and result in a compromised settlement payment, where both parties are satisfied.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the negotiations process breaks down and a compromise cannot be reached, your attorney will need to file a personal injury lawsuit. A breakdown in the negotiation process generally occurs because the insurance adjuster denies their insured was at-fault or does not agree with the severity of the injuries you are claiming from the accident and the amount your attorney is demanding. When claim negotiations are not fruitful, the next step is to file a lawsuit.
Deciding To File a Lawsuit
Technically, you can file a lawsuit anytime, starting from the first day of the accident to the last day the statute of limitations runs (which is generally two years after the date of accident). But for most minor accidents, a lawsuit is a last resort. Filing suit is only considered when negotiations break down, and other methods of resolving the case have failed.
A negotiated settlement is in most cases the best result because it avoids the expensive costs and lengthy process of litigation. You may not initially be satisfied with the amount of money you are offered. However, before you refuse, you should consider the expense and time needed to file a lawsuit.
Injuries Serious Enough to Merit a Trial
Threshold injuries are very serious injuries. In order to fall into this category, the injuries you suffered in the accident must have caused significant damage. The injuries should also either be permanent or limit your ability to engage in your normal, daily activities for a specific amount of time.
Some common threshold injuries include:
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Fractures or broken bones
- Loss or significant limitation of a body organ
- Torn muscles or ligaments
Consult with a Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident that was caused by the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a personal injury claim. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call the Law Offices of Vahdat & Associate today at (888) 523-1698.