Everything About Claims and Lawsuits that You Need to Know

claims and lawsuits

You might have heard the legal term “claim” before, as well as “lawsuit.” However, you may not know exactly what both of those terms mean.

In this article, we’ll talk about each of them in detail. A claim is not quite the same as a lawsuit, and you should not get them confused with one another.

What Precisely Is a Personal Injury Claim?

If you are not sure of the difference between a personal injury claim and lawsuit, you should first know the textbook personal injury claim definition. Let’s say that another party causes your injury. We’ll use the common scenario of making an illegal turn and hitting your vehicle.

You now have a “claim” against that person because they clearly caused any injuries, losses, or damages that took place.

What Damages Might Your Claim Cover?

When you try to get money from the other driver for your claim, they might cover such damages as permanent disabilities, disfigurement, or scarring. You might include income loss, such as a decrease in your earning potential, benefits, bonuses, and the usual wages that you would earn.

You can include your emotional pain and suffering, as well as your physical and mental distress. You will undoubtedly want to include any medical expenses you incur after the accident, such as surgery costs, prescription medication, physical therapy, and medical supplies that you require.

You can classify any of these as damages when you pursue your claim. The person who caused your injuries is the object of your claim pursuit. In cases where there's more than one entity to blame, you might have to deal with multiple claims, which can complicate matters.

How Can You Settle an Insurance Claim?

The other driver’s insurance company will have a hand in settling the claim you bring against them. They, the at-fault party, will need to notify their insurance company, and that company should instruct a representative to contact you. They might try to get you to give a statement in which you implicate yourself or accept some of the blame for what happened.

This is why you’ll probably want to bring in an attorney to help you as you try to settle your claim. They can instruct you on what not to say when you talk to the insurance company reps, who can be very devious. They don’t want to pay out any more money than they have to since they are not nonprofit companies.

What About Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Now, on to the second term we mentioned, “lawsuit.” You file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court, not criminal court. However, it is not inconceivable that the police might bring criminal charges against the other driver if they believe they acted negligently.

You are the injured party in the car crash example we described, and the law refers to you as the plaintiff. The party who injured you, the other driver, is the defendant. You might know these terms from cop dramas on TV.

Personal injury lawsuits often have more complexity than claims. You can frequently expect the defendant’s insurance company to hire a lawyer to handle the lawsuit, because again, they don’t want to pay out any more money than they have to.

How Does a Lawsuit Usually Play Out?

If you bring a lawsuit against the other driver, it can play out in different ways, depending on whether the insurance company decides to offer you a settlement at some point. In other words, the case can go to trial, but not always. That usually depends on what evidence the insurance company finds when they conduct their investigation.

Once you file the complaint, the ball is in motion. That means you tell the defendant that you plan to bring a lawsuit against them for their actions, and they need to get ready to defend themselves.

The discovery process will take place next. At this point, the insurance company’s lawyer might depose you. You can bring your lawyer to the deposition, and you should, since without them, you don’t know what questions the defendant’s lawyer can legally ask you and which ones you can decline to answer.

Then, the insurance company might offer a settlement, or they may allow the lawsuit to go to trial. At that point, your lawyer must try to prove what happened.

Now, you know a little about both claims and personal injury lawsuits, so you should understand that they’re not quite the same thing.

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Posted - 03/30/2021