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What’s the Difference Between Personal Injury Claims and Lawsuits?

Posted on November 6, 2020 Personal Injury

Accident victims often picture large courtrooms and jury trials when they think of personal injury cases. In reality, the vast majority of personal injury cases do not go to trial. They settle at the insurance stage, with successful negotiations between the defendant’s insurance company and the plaintiff. For the most part, if you wish to seek compensation for an injury, you will have a personal injury claim, not a lawsuit. Learn the difference between the two to better understand what to expect from your case.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim refers to an insurance claim, where an injured accident victim files for benefits from an insurance company. A personal injury claim can go through the victim’s own insurance company or the insurer of the party at fault for causing the accident. The insurance company that receives the claim depends on the circumstances of the accident, as well as the laws in your state. Texas is a fault-based insurance state, meaning an insurance claim will go to the at-fault party after an auto accident.
During an insurance claim for a personal injury, an insurance claims adjuster will review the facts of your case and all submitted documentation. The adjuster will look at your medical records, police reports, photographs and other evidence connected to your claim. The adjuster may also call you and ask for a recorded statement. It is best not to give this statement until you have spoken to a personal injury lawyer. The claims adjuster will decide whether to recommend to the insurance company to accept or deny your claim.
If the insurance company accepts your claim, it will offer a base settlement amount. It is up to you or your lawyer to either accept the initial settlement offer or negotiate for a higher amount. A lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance company to successfully settle your claim. Most injury claims in Texas resolve at this stage of the process. If, however, the insurance company unfairly denies your claim or offers less than your lawyer thinks your case is worth, the case may go to the lawsuit stage.

What Is a Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit may be necessary if you cannot reach a settlement with the insurance company. You will need to obey your statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of your accident or the date that you discovered your injury. A lawsuit has several steps you and your lawyer will need to navigate.

  • Claims filing. Filing requires submitting the correct paperwork to the civil courts in the county where your accident occurred, where you live or where the defendant lives. Your claim will list the damages you are seeking from the defendant.
  • The discovery phase gives both sides of the case the chance to investigate the accident further. Discovery often involves depositions, witness interviews, subpoenas for evidence and documents, and accident reconstruction.
  • Injury trial. When your court date arrives, you and your attorney will go to trial in your county. At a personal injury trial, both sides will present their arguments to a judge and jury. Your trial may require multiple hearings.
  • After listening to arguments from both sides, a jury will decide whether the defendant most likely caused or did not cause your injuries. If a jury rules in your favor, it will award an amount it deems appropriate for your losses.

If someone else’s negligence injured you, contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance with your claim. A lawyer can increase the chances of successfully settling your case at the insurance claim stage. Having a lawyer support your claim can force an insurance company to treat you more fairly. If settlement negotiations fail, your lawyer can also represent you at an injury trial in Texas.