When you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may be entitled to pursue financial compensation from that party for your damages. Although many people think about personal injury lawsuits, the reality is that most personal injury matters are resolved through negotiated settlement of a personal injury claim. But what is the difference between a personal injury claim and a personal injury settlement, and which path is best for you to get the compensation you need and deserve?
Legal Claim vs. Lawsuit
A personal injury claim usually refers to a demand for compensation made against an insurance company (usually the at-fault party’s insurance company) that covers the accident or incident that caused your injury — an auto insurance company for a motor vehicle accident, a homeowner’s insurance company for a dog bite, a commercial general liability insurance company for a slip and fall at a store or restaurant, or a malpractice insurance company for a physician’s negligence. Personal injury claims are usually filed before a lawsuit is even considered, since a personal injury claim can be resolved through a negotiated settlement a lot more quickly and less expensively than a lawsuit.
Conversely, a personal injury lawsuit involves your demand for compensation being decided by a court, usually culminating in a trial where a jury of people renders a decision, or verdict, as to liability and damages.
Starting a Personal Injury Claim
A personal injury claim is started when the relevant insurance company is notified about an accident and resulting damages. The insurer will open a claim file and will often contact injured parties to try to negotiate a settlement of their legal claim — in a settlement, an injured party agrees to release his or her legal claims against a purported at-fault party in exchange for a payment of compensation.
Of course, in order to want to settle a personal injury claim, an insurance company will need some evidence establishing that the injured party has a potentially valid legal basis to demand compensation from the insurance company or from a party that the insurance company insures — usually, that the at-fault party caused an accident and that the claimant suffered injuries and damages.
Settlements are preferred by parties because they control the outcome of the case and can avoid the expense and risk of an adverse outcome in going to court.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When a mutually acceptable settlement cannot be reached with an insurance company or at-fault party, an injured accident victim will eventually turn to the courts by filing a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit is filed against the party who allegedly caused the injured person’s damages, not against the alleged at-fault party’s insurance company (although the insurer may pay for the defense attorneys and for any resulting judgment).
Alternatives to Lawsuits
In some cases, parties choose to resolve their dispute in a personal injury matter through alternatives to litigation. Where direct negotiation between the parties fails, they may choose to engage in mediation, where a neutral third party helps facilitate negotiation between the parties.
As an alternative to a trial in court, parties may decide to submit their dispute to arbitration, which is a trial-like process but usually quicker and less expensive.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey represent clients injured in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Weston, Pompano Beach, Plantation, and throughout Florida. Call (954) 525-2345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2211 Davie Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, as well as offices in Pembroke Pines, Weston, Coconut Creek, Plantation, and Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.