There is a good deal of difference between a personal injury claim and a personal injury lawsuit. With regard to the subject-matter, let us suppose that an individual is injured in an automobile accident. The accident is clearly the fault of the other party. The person, who has suffered from the negligence of the person, responsible for the accident, has acquired, much, in the way of medical expenses, associated bills—not to say anything about the extensive use of medicines and physical therapies. The bottom-line is that the individual who has been hurt cannot work. He or she has suffered enormously and is in a great deal of pain: What is the best course of action, then, for this individual to take?
It is best, as it applies to the preceding scenario, to understand whether it is more appropriate to file a personal injury claim, or to file a lawsuit, against the guilty individual. The scenario is illustrative of an automobile accident; however, the information which follows, is applicable to any and all kinds of personal injury cases. The list includes: dog bites, slip and fall accidents, defective product type of actions, and more.
The best way to determine if it is best to file a personal injury claim or initiate a lawsuit is to understand the difference of each. The following detail provides information as to the differences.
The personal injury claim is between the injured person and the person declared negligent. This is to say, the claim is really between the injured party and the insurance company of the individual who is at fault with regard to the accident. The claims process is made up of negotiations between the injured party and the claims adjuster of the other party’s insurance company. The negotiations, it is hoped, will go well, in the form of a settlement, which both accident parties believe is fair.
The personal injury lawsuit is generally filed when the negotiation process is breaking down, pertinent to all parties involved in the accident. A compromise, with regard to a settlement is not forthcoming. The breakdown in negotiable communications can occur when the claims adjuster denies the fact that the guilty party or his insured was not at fault for the accident. Another reason the claims adjuster may not settle is that he does not believe the injuries, of the injured party, are as critical as stated; or he or she is in disagreement with the amount requested by the accident victim. When the claim is at a standstill, as far as negotiation, generally, the next step is in instituting a lawsuit.
An individual begins the claims process, once he or she has sustained injuries from the accident or property damage has occurred—or both. The injuries and personal property damages are the result of the other individual’s negligent behavior. The victim must pursue the driver at fault, in order to properly cover costs, associated with the accident which the other person has caused. The person, at fault, will turn the matter over to his or her insurer.
Once the insurer of the at-fault individual is provided with notice, he or she begins the claims process. He or she starts with a claim number which is assigned to the case. The case is then given to the claims adjuster. The adjuster opens the claim, contacting the victim in order to negotiate a settlement. If a settlement is agreed upon, the lawsuit stage does not come into play.
The claims adjuster requires proof of the accident, in order to properly settle the case. He or she needs proof that the accident was truly caused by his or her insured. He or she also requires proof that the injuries, acquired by the victim, are critical enough that settlement is appropriate. In order to attain proof, the adjuster goes through the process of investigation, in order to attain all of the facts.
The following documents; information and forms of communication, are acquired by the claims adjuster, as a part of his or her investigation:
- Medical charts and billing are required for review;
- He or she may speak with the injured party and witnesses, with regard to the accident;
- He or she looks over the police report;
- The claims adjuster will go to the accident scene and take photographic images;
- He or she looks over the damage to the victim’s automobile and attains an estimate, in way of repairing the automobile; and
- He or she will evaluate any other evidence provided by the victim.
The conversation, between the injured party and the adjuster must be precise, in order that the case is properly supported. It is important, then, that the injured party convince the adjuster of the following details:
- His or her insured truly was at fault for the accident.
- The injuries associated with the case, are for real and required and require the attention of medical personnel.
- The costs are quite substantial.
- Out of pocket expense are a reality.
- Pain is of a continuous nature.
Once the investigation comes to an end, the claims adjuster makes a decision from the information, he or she has gathered. The decision ranges from paying the entirety of the amount requested, by the victim, to providing the injured party with nothing at all. The preceding stated: most normally, the settlement is somewhere between nothing and the demand of payment, in order to properly settle.
If all parties are in agreement, then the insurance company sends the injured party a release form and a check. Once the release is signed and the check is cashed, the claim is formally finalized. A lawsuit is not filed and the courts do not become involved, once the check is cashed by the injured person.
The initial stages of Personal injury lawsuits become a reality when all of the persons associated with the accident are unable to properly settle or come to an agreement. The preceding does not mean that Personal injury lawsuits cannot be initiated at anytime, starting from the first day of the accident. However, when the accident is minor; normally, a lawsuit is initiated after everything else has failed. Filing a lawsuit, then, is one that is based on logic and not out of anger.
Injuries that are serious are permanent or limit an individual’s ability to perform general daily activities, for a certain period of time. Such injuries are relative to the filing of a lawsuit.
The relative reasoning behind Personal injury lawsuits:
Many states refer to injuries, most critical, as “Threshold” injuries. Injuries falling under the preceding category include: death, dismemberment, disfigurement and scaring; fractures, loss or limitation, relative to a particular bodily organ; medically certified impairment that is not permanent; however, lasts from 90 days to 180 days, which greatly prevents the injured party from performing his or her usual tasks.
The individual, seeking to file a lawsuit, then, must proceed with a great deal of discernment. It is important that everything is provable because the injured party does not want his or her case dismissed. The best way to determine if the case is worthy of filing suit is to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney.