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


Understanding what is involved with a personal injury claim other than a lawsuit and taking legal action may help injury victims determine which path is appropriate. While a personal injury claim involves negotiating settlements with at-fault parties and insurers out of court, a lawsuit is filed by the plaintiff if a settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company.

The claims process is often considerably simpler than a lawsuit, and most personal injury cases don't wind up going to trial. Working with a personal injury lawyer may help you decide how to pursue damages for your accident-associated losses.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim Other Than a Lawsuit?

Many people often use both “personal injury lawsuits” and “personal injury claims” interchangeably, but they are far from the same. During the claims process, a claimant will file against the party responsible for an injury or the at-fault party's insurance company. During this process, both parties involved will negotiate a settlement that compensates the victims for injuries and the damages associated with them.

For instance, following a car accident, victims may be able to file claims against the parties responsible, which could include liable drivers and insurers. The claim aims to seek monetary compensation for injuries, along with financial losses and pain and suffering that the injuries caused. Throughout the claims process, insurers will examine any police reports, medical records, and other evidence that help reach a settlement. Insurance companies will try to get victims to accept the lowest settlement possible. This keeps them from having to pay out larger amounts, even if the victim deserves more. In some cases, insurers may claim that victims don't have any serious injuries and deny the claim entirely.

What Does It Mean When a Personal Injury Claim Moves to Lawsuit?

If claimants are unhappy with the settlement or denial and wish to continue to seek compensation, they can take the case to court with a personal injury lawsuit. It's also possible to skip the claims process entirely and go to trial if injuries are severe enough and the damages are substantial. If a case goes to trial, it's best to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to negotiate the process.

In a personal injury lawsuit, a case involves the court system to reach a settlement. Lawsuits often result from claims in which the claimant was dissatisfied with the settlement amount, or if injuries and damages are severe enough to warrant a trial process.

What Damages Can You Recover Through Personal Injury Claims and Lawsuits?

Through a personal injury claim other than a lawsuit and taking formal legal action, you may receive compensation for your accident-associated losses. Depending on varying factors, you may recover damages for economic and non-economic losses, such as the following:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium or companionship

Under some circumstances, you may also request punitive damages through a personal injury lawsuit. The court may award such damages if the at-fault party's behavior willfully and wantonly disregarded the rights and safety of another and was specifically directed at the victim. If there is no sufficient evidence to support both these criteria, but the first exists in your case, you may still recover a portion of punitive damages.

Learn More About Personal Injury Claim Other Than a Lawsuit and Civil Actions

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Slip and Fall Injury?

Do you Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?

If I Am In A Car Accident When the Other Driver Has no Insurance, Who Pays For The Damages that I Sustain?

Why Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident – Even If the Accident is “Minor”

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

Photo of Niko Pothitakis
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.