If you’ve been injured in an accident, you probably have many questions about how you should proceed. For instance, if you weren’t at fault for the accident, who is responsible for paying for your injuries? Do you make a claim via your own insurance or someone else’s? Will you have to hire an attorney and sue the other party?
The truth is that there are no blanket answers to these questions. Every personal injury case is different, and you are better off consulting an attorney who specializes in accidents to get specific information about your case. One of the questions that many accident victims have, though, is the difference between an insurance claim and a lawsuit. The attorneys at maho-prentice.com have provided information to help clear up the confusion surrounding this question.
Accident Insurance Claims
For many accidents, there is an insurance company that is responsible for handling claims against the defendant. Drivers carry automotive liability insurance, doctors have medical malpractice insurance, and homeowners have insurance that protects them from accidents occurring on their property. If you are injured in an accident, you can find the responsible insurer and file a claim. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident and the quality of the insurer, you will receive varying results. In nearly all cases, the insurance company will want the details of what occurred:
● The date, time, and location of the accident
● The names of witnesses who might have seen what happened
● A case number for a police report, if one exists
● Photos of injury and property damage
● Medical reports, if they exist
You might be surprised at how quickly you will receive a settlement offer — sometimes within an hour or a day of the accident. That’s because insurance companies are aware that they can settle for less if the claimant is unrepresented by a personal injury lawyer. They will require you to sign a waiver of liability to avoid future claims, which allows them to put the matter to rest.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
A lawsuit is a civil action where one party, the plaintiff, announces their intention to sue another, the defendant, in court. Not all personal injury claims become lawsuits, even when you involve a personal injury lawyer. In fact, most personal injury cases settle out of court. Before the commencement of a lawsuit, the accident victim will typically contact a personal injury attorney.
These attorneys will take up the case on a contingency basis, which means that the accident victim does not pay out of pocket. Once the personal injury lawyer reviews the details of the case and all of the evidence, they will tabulate what they believe will be a full and fair settlement and present it to the insurers. The insurance company will have a few options at this point. The insurer can agree to the settlement amount, negotiate the amount, or refuse to pay outright. In most cases, they’ll negotiate for a lower amount. While these negotiations are ongoing, the plaintiff’s attorney may or may not file the lawsuit.
There is usually a statute of limitations limiting the time the plaintiff has to file a suit. If the parties can agree on a settlement amount, the lawsuit can be withdrawn. However, if the insurance company won’t settle, the parties may enter arbitration or litigation. Then the outcome is left up to the arbitrator or the civil courts.
Consult an Attorney Before Accepting a Settlement
Most accident attorneys handle cases on a contingency basis. Therefore, there are no out-of-pocket costs for clients. If you’ve been in an accident, talk to an attorney before agreeing to a settlement offer.