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

December 20, 2020By Niko Pothitakis

Understanding the differences between personal injury claims and lawsuits can help injury victims determine which is appropriate to file. 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.

How Personal Injury Claims Differ from Lawsuits

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.

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.

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.

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.