What Is the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Lawsuit?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on October 2, 2019 in Personal Injury
Updated on April 25, 2024

personal injury law folderThere is a lot of confusion about what the difference is between a personal injury claim and a lawsuit. While both may be used to pursue compensation for injuries sustained in an accident, personal injury claims and personal injury lawsuits have important differences.

The Milwaukee personal injury attorneys at PKSD offer a free review of your claim, which gives us a chance to answer your questions about injury claims and lawsuits. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today for your free initial consultation.

Insurance Claim

An injury claim is another phrase for insurance claim, where the injured victim files a claim for compensation with an insurance company, either his insurance company the insurer of the at-fault party. Depending on the type of accident that caused the injury, the claim may be made against an auto insurance policy, homeowner’s or property owner’s insurance policy, or a professional liability insurance policy.

The insurance company will investigate the accident to determine how it happened, who was at fault, and the extent of damages you suffered. During this phase, it is likely that the adjuster will review police reports and medical records.

The insurance adjuster may also call you and try to get you to make a statement. However, it is in your best interest to talk to a licensed personal injury attorney before speaking to the insurance company. You can have your attorney talk to the insurance company on your behalf to help protect your best interests.

It is important to know the insurance adjuster is not out for your best interests; he or she is an agent of the insurance company, and it is his or her job to find a way to reduce the amount of compensation the insurer pays out on your claim.

During the personal injury claims process, you and/or your attorney negotiate with the insurance company to settle your claim.

We encourage you to consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to make sure you have someone on your side who:

  • Is well-versed in personal injury law
  • Will protect your interests
  • Knows how to calculate a fair value of your claim

Personal Injury Lawsuit

When a settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, an attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the person or entity at fault for your injuries.

A personal injury lawsuit allows victims to pursue compensation for damages resulting from injuries, just like a personal injury claim, but through a legal process. This option is more complicated, because the plaintiff must prove to a jury the at-fault party (defendant) was negligent and that his or her negligence caused the accident that directly resulted in your injuries.

A personal injury lawsuit may last several months or longer as there are several stages:

  • Filing – The attorney files the initial documents with the appropriate civil court to ensure all parties are notified of your intentions.
  • Discovery process – Each side investigates the matter during this phase to gather evidence to support their case. This may include depositions, interrogatories, witness interviews, document requests, accident reconstruction and other investigative techniques. At this point, attempts may be made by either party to settle the case before moving to trial.
  • Trial phase – If no settlement is reached, the case moves to trial. Each side presents their argument to the court and jury. This process may involve multiple hearings. A settlement may still be pursued throughout the trial phase.
  • Completion of trial – After hearing all arguments, the jury is dismissed to determine its verdict. If the jury rules in favor of the victim, a compensation award amount is also determined.
  • After a verdict is read – After a ruling is made, the losing side may file an appeal. This could lead to a new trial or settlement between the parties.

When Is It Time to Pursue a Lawsuit?

Typically, a personal injury claim is the first route for recovering damages after an accident. However, it is important to know when to pursue a personal injury lawsuit rather than a claim.

  • If you are nearing the end of the statute of limitations (timeframe you have to pursue legal action), your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit to ensure you do not lose the opportunity to pursue compensation in court.
  • If a fair settlement cannot be agreed upon or the insurance company denies your claim, a lawsuit may be the next step.
  • If you have suffered catastrophic injuries or in the case of death, a lawsuit may be pursued.

We are Here to Help. Call Today

If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is important to know the options available to help you recover fair compensation for your damages. The experienced attorneys at the law firm of PKSD are dedicated to helping victims pursue maximum compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Schedule your free consultation today to review your potential claim and discuss your options for pursuing compensation for your injuries. We charge no upfront fees, and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.

Call 414-333-3333 now or complete our confidential online Case Evaluation form anytime.

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