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

When a person is injured in an accident, they must deal with many things all at once. First and foremost is their health and need for medical treatment. Next comes determining responsibility, submitting information to insurance companies, and dealing with mounting bills. 

The victim of an accident then wonders whether to file a personal injury claim or a personal injury lawsuit. These terms – claim and lawsuit – are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion. There are key differences between the two, and it is important to work with a personal injury lawyer who can handle both. 

What Is a Personal Injury Claim? 

What Is a Personal Injury Claim? 

A person injured in an accident due to the fault of another can file a personal injury claim against the responsible party – typically directed to their insurance company. The claimant must show that the at-fault party was responsible for the accident and for the claimant’s injuries. For example, a police report and medical bills can be submitted to the insurer to show their insured caused the accident and that the claimant was injured as a result.

Some examples of personal injury claims include: 

  • Claims with an auto insurer after a car accident
  • Claims with a property insurance company after a fire, storm, or flood
  • Business liability insurance claims after someone slips and falls at a business establishment
  • Medical malpractice insurance claims after a medical misdiagnosis or injury

If the claim is successful, the injured party can collect a financial settlement without going to court. 

What Is the Insurance Company’s Role in a Personal Injury Claim? 

The insurance adjuster reviewing a personal injury claim will assess the value of the claim and determine whether and how much to pay. The insurance company might accept the claim as it is and pay the injured party what they seek for their damages. In other cases, the insurer might accept the claim and its validity but make a counteroffer. 

The insurance company could also reject the claim entirely. In any of these situations, there is an opportunity for the claimant and their personal injury lawyer to negotiate a favorable outcome. However, the final decision on whether or not to settle a claim is ultimately made by the insurance company. 

What Does a Lawyer Do in a Personal Injury Claim? 

A personal injury lawyer will review the facts of your claim, gather evidence, and help file the personal injury claim with the insurer. They will then work on your behalf to negotiate a settlement. The lawyer will know what a fair settlement would be based on your injuries, and they will not settle for the first offer they receive if it isn’t fair. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Personal Injury Claim Vs. a Lawsuit? 

Some benefits of pursuing a personal injury claim include: 

  • Saving money in court costs and attorney fees needed to go to trial
  • Potential to receive compensation sooner than through a lawsuit
  • Less time and paperwork involved than with a lawsuit
  • Getting a clear idea of what your case is worth

Some drawbacks in pursuing a personal injury claim include: 

  • Time spent waiting on the insurance company, which might draw the claim out
  • An early settlement might not cover all your damages
  • The insurer gets the final say in what gets paid to the claimant. 

A personal injury lawyer can help you decide the best course of action for your case. 

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

A personal injury lawsuit differs from a claim in that the case goes to court in the form of a legal complaint. As with a claim, the lawsuit will allege that an at-fault party is responsible for the victim’s economic and non-economic damages. However, in a lawsuit, the claimant becomes a plaintiff with certain elements they must prove to win their case. 

In a personal injury lawsuit, the insurance company does not get to decide the final amount owed to the claimant. Instead, that decision lies with the judge or jury in a personal injury lawsuit. Settlement negotiations can continue as a lawsuit proceeds, but the victim has the right to have the court, not the insurer, decide what a claim is worth. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

Benefits of filing a personal injury lawsuit include: 

  • Trusting your case with an objective and neutral party that doesn’t view your claim from an insurer’s perspective 
  • Potential to receive a higher settlement or verdict than you would through an insurance claim 
  • Ability to collect additional evidence and force an insurance company to settle 
  • The ability to testify in court and have witnesses testify about what happened. 

Potential drawbacks in filing a lawsuit include: 

  • No assured outcome if the case goes to trial
  • Time involvement, as a personal injury case, can last several months or more than a year in some cases
  • Potential to receive less than expected. 

If the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation.  

Will My Personal Injury Lawsuit Go to Trial? 

You might be surprised to learn that only about 5% of personal injury cases go to trial. The vast majority are settled before trial. The attorneys for both sides will exchange evidence and negotiate while the legal case is ongoing, typically leading to a financial settlement. If the case does go to trial, a skilled personal injury attorney will present the case to a jury as strongly as possible to ensure fair financial compensation for the plaintiff. 

Contact an Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

Whether you pursue a personal injury claim or a lawsuit, obtaining fair compensation to address your injuries is hard to do on your own. An experienced personal injury lawyer from Laird Hammons Laird Personal Injury Lawyers can evaluate your case and help determine the best path forward. Call our law office today at (405) 497-0480 or schedule a free consultation online.