Understanding Claims And Suits In Injury Law

When personal injury attorneys pursue cases, they can seek compensation for their clients in one of two ways. They can either submit a claim or sue the defendant.

You should understand what both a claim and a lawsuit are if you're going to demand compensation for your injuries. Here are four things a personal injury attorney will want their clients to understand about claims and suits.

What Are Claims and Lawsuits?

A claim is a formal demand for compensation. Typically, a personal injury lawyer writes a letter explaining who the claimant is, what happened, why they demand compensation, how much they want, and why the defendant is liable to pay. Also, an attorney will usually include supporting evidence with the demand package. For example, they might include a folder of accident scene photos, medical expert opinions, witness statements, and reports by first responders.

Most claims go to insurance companies, but you can also file a claim against a self-insured or uninsured party. The defendant or their insurer should then respond within a few weeks. They have the right to either reject or accept the claim. If they accept the claim, they can also accept the proposed settlement amount or suggest a different number.

Lawsuits usually arise if a party has rejected a claim or the two parties can't agree on compensation. If you sue, you are asking a court to settle the question. A jury trial is the normal solution, but a judge might grant a bench trial where they decide the issue if the defendant believes they can't get a fair trial before a jury.

A Pending Suit Never Precludes a Settlement

The two parties can still reach a settlement even if a suit is pending. For example, the pretrial process sometimes turns up evidence that makes a defendant's case look worse than it did before it went to court. In that scenario, a defendant might settle to avoid the risk of a jury awarding an even bigger dollar amount.

Claims Almost Always Come First

In theory, you could sue without asking for a settlement. However, the defense would immediately tell the judge you made no effort to file a claim. Likewise, the judge might dismiss the lawsuit or order the two sides to negotiate. Consequently, a personal injury attorney will normally see submitting a claim as a demonstration of good faith.

Most Successful Cases End with Settlements

The typically winning personal injury case ends in a settlement. A common estimate is that 95% of injury cases will not go to trial.

For more information, contact a firm like Siben & Siben LLP.