When someone suffers injuries in an accident that was someone else’s fault, it may lead them to take action to recover compensation. The means by which an injury victim obtains compensation could be through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. It’s important to understand the difference between them and when either may be appropriate.
How is a personal injury claim different from a lawsuit?
Both types of legal actions help in the recovery of damages for bodily injuries sustained after a crash, as well as other damages. One difference between a claim and a lawsuit is that the claim is filed with the insurance company. But a lawsuit filed against an individual but may still involve the insurance company.
Let’s say another driver ran a red light and crashed into the victim’s car. The injured person files a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The driver’s liability insurance covers the damages. But if the victim decides to pursue a lawsuit, it would get filed against the driver and the liability insurance company may be involved as well.
Also, in small insurance claims, the claimant may not require legal assistance. But for larger insurance claims and lawsuits, legal counsel may be beneficial to ensure the claim or lawsuit accounts for all damages, both current and future.
It’s also important to consider the time and cost involved with a claim versus a lawsuit. Filing insurance claims may not cost any money (unless securing legal representation), but filing a lawsuit comes with various legal costs. Both a claim and lawsuit may take a long time to resolve depending on the specifics of the case.
How do I know if I should pursue a claim or a lawsuit when injured in an accident?
If it’s a minor fender bender with no injuries or they aren’t serious, a personal injury claim will usually suffice to recover fair compensation. Even if an individual sustains serious injuries, it doesn’t always mean pursuing a lawsuit is the best choice right away. But if there is difficulty with negotiations or getting a fair amount, then it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to take the case through the court system.
One situation that would warrant filing a personal injury lawsuit is when the insured’s coverage isn’t enough to pay for damages. Let’s say the driver has the minimum amount of liability insurance drivers in Texas must carry, which is $30,000 for bodily injury liability, but the medical costs exceed that amount. To recover the rest, it may require pursuing legal action against the driver.
Another circumstance in which it may be necessary to file a lawsuit is when the driver has no insurance. If the accident victim doesn’t happen to have uninsured motorist coverage (which would help pay for damages when injured by a driver without insurance), he/she gets stuck with all the bills.
Filing a lawsuit may allow the injured driver to recover compensation, though a driver may have limited assets in the first place that prevents him/her from purchasing auto insurance.
Do I need an attorney for my personal injury claim or lawsuit?
As noted above you have suffered serious injuries or are filing a lawsuit, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney. Insurance companies will do their best to settle for an amount that’s oftentimes much less than the victim deserves.
An attorney can evaluate the case and determine your right to damages and the options available. Call Julie Johnson Law at (214) 290-8001 if you’re in the Dallas area and require legal assistance for a personal injury claim or a lawsuit.