What goes into a personal injury lawsuit? How do you know if your injury qualifies? Unfortunately, there’s no universal answer, so it’s important to seek guidance from an experienced attorney.
When a negligent business or person causes you harm, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for the damages you incur. This includes lost wages, medical bills, and many other expenses. There are two ways to go about this:
File a personal injury claim.
File a personal injury lawsuit.
Typically, you begin with a claim in hopes of negotiating a settlement that meets your needs. However, when this process fails, you can go to court and allow a judge or jury to decide your case.
The Basics of Personal Injury Cases
When you file a personal injury claim, you make a demand for monetary compensation to recover damages. Generally, you file this claim against the negligent party’s insurance policy. After you file the claim, your attorney represents you in negotiations with the insurance company.
Alternatively, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. This allows you to pursue compensation from the negligent party. In this instance, the court determines whether you should receive a settlement and how much.
Both of these avenues are a formal means to seek compensation for damages. Typically, these damages cover the inconveniences and losses you sustain due to the injuries resulting from the incident.
Damages in personal injury cases fall into two categories.
Economic damages have a measurable cost, such as medical expenses, lost income, repair bills, and more.
Non-economic damages are not measurable, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and more.
At the core of most personal injury cases, you find some form of negligence. This is the failure of a person to act in a way that a reasonable individual would act in a similar situation.
To be successful in your claim, you have to prove the following.
The negligent party owed you a duty of care.
They breached that duty in some way.
That breach resulted in your injuries.
Your injuries led to your claimed damages.
So, how do you know whether to file a personal injury lawsuit? Generally, your best bet is to schedule a consultation with an attorney in your area focused on personal injury. They can provide guidance on your claim and explain whether you have a case.
When you hire an attorney, they become your advocate, representing and pursuing your best interests.
The Difference Between a Claim and Lawsuit
Personal injury claims and lawsuits are two different ways to seek compensation for your damages. In either avenue, the burden of proof is on you and your attorney. You have to prove that the other person or business was negligent in some way. Further, you have to connect their negligence to your injuries and damages.
Typically, a claim involves coverage from an insurance provider. Examples include:
Medical or malpractice insurance
Business liability insurance
Injury claims are between three parties: the injured individual, the claimant, and their insurance provider. In many claims, car accidents, for example, you file the claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company before you would even consider a lawsuit.
Generally speaking, the claims process is a series of negotiations between your attorney and the claims adjuster from the insurance carrier. This happens over the phone, by email, and even in person. The best outcome is a settlement that satisfies every party.
Often, insurance companies attempt to provide a lowball offer in hopes that people accept without fully considering their damages. That’s why it is crucial to partner with an experienced attorney.
Moreover, never accept a settlement without seeking legal guidance.
When an adjuster denies your claim or negotiations fail, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. In this case, you file the lawsuit against the business or individual, not the insurance company.
Here are a few reasons you might not reach a settlement that satisfies all parties.
The company denies the insured party was negligent.
They do not accept the extent or severity of your injuries.
The company does not agree with the compensation you demand.
Generally, most personal injury cases start with a written demand for compensation. If the insurance company rejects this demand, a lawsuit commonly follows. However, many lawsuits are still settled out of court.
In some cases, you might even settle amidst the trial. Every case is unique in its details and circumstances, so it’s important to work with an attorney.
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