What is the difference between an insurance claim and a lawsuit? Many people have heard the phrases, “personal injury claim” and “personal injury lawsuit” used in an almost interchangeable manner. There is a significant difference, however, between these two phrases.
A personal injury claim is a process that involves an injured party negotiating for a settlement through the responsible party’s insurance company. These claims occur outside of the court system. Personal injury lawsuits occur when an accident victim pursues compensation from a responsible party in a court of law because earlier efforts to negotiate a settlement we unsuccessful or impractical.
While both can result in compensation for damages resulting from an injury, this article will discuss some of the additional differences between insurance claims and lawsuits. In either situation, it is wise to contact an experienced accident lawyer for assistance.
Probably the most common fact pattern that brings these issues into play is a car accident. Ohio is a fault-based state, which means that car accident victims are able to initiate claims against the party responsible for their accidents to pursue compensation. After a claim is filed with the responsible party’s car insurance company, an insurance adjuster will determine how the car accident occurred and obtain any evidence to help decide who should be held accountable for the resulting damage.
Because adjusters ask for personal information and sometimes will try to obtain statements about how an accident occurred. Sometimes an injured party may make statements that hurt their case. Therefore, it is often a better idea to speak with a car accident attorney before filing a claim or speaking with the other party’s insurance company.
After an investigation, the company might offer a settlement amount to the driver who filed the claim, which the driver can either accept or reject. Insurance adjusters often will try to settle claims for much less than the actual value. Thus, the experience of a personal injury lawyer is often relied upon to determine if a settlement is fair.
If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, many accident victims decide to commence a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuits refer to matters that proceed through a court of law and will be handled under much more formal rules and procedures than an insurance claim. Therefore, a lawyer will virtually always be involved in a personal injury lawsuit. Lawsuits involving personal injuries frequently arise when difficulties occur with the responsible party’s insurance company. These difficulties could be that the insurance company is not willing to pay an amount that is acceptable. Sometimes lawsuits are needed because the insurance company has denied liability altogether.
To establish that damages should be awarded, your attorney must establish that several elements were involved in an accident. These elements include that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care and breached that duty. Once these two elements have been shown, a lawyer will need to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused damage to the plaintiff. Finally, the attorney will need to prove the extent of the damages caused. Defense attorneys will attempt to poke holes in any weakness a case may have.
Because trials are decided by people (either juries or judges) outcomes of personal injury lawsuits are often unpredictable. Ohio also has laws that cap the number of damages that are available for compensation to injured parties. Further, because Ohio follows comparative negligence laws, the amount of compensation that is received also might be decreased by the percentage that a person is responsible for an accident.
No matter whether an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate for your case, it is often a wise idea to speak with an experienced accident lawyer. If you have been injured in a car accident or have suffered a different type of injury, contact the Law Firm of Kruger & Hodges today to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Hamilton, Ohio.