What Are the Differences Between Filing an Insurance Claim and Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you’ve been involved in a serious accident through no fault of your own, there are two different methods through which you can pursue financial compensation for your losses. You can try to obtain compensation through an insurance claim or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
The two methods are considered separate and distinct from one another. Which one you choose will depend on a variety of factors, such as the type of accident you were involved in and the nature of your injuries. What also matters a great deal is whether the insurer is being fair in settlement negotiations.
Filing an Insurance Claim
An insurance claim begins when the injured party files a claim for damages with an insurance company. Compensation can be sought for property damage, medical costs, lost wages, and more.
Some insurance companies require that they receive notice of a claim within 24 to 48 hours after an accident. If you are late, they might deny your claim, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a case.
Once the insurance company has been notified that there was a loss, they will assign an adjuster to conduct an investigation. The investigation might include:
- Reviewing a police report
- Going to the scene of the accident and taking photos
- Looking at a damaged vehicle or product
- Speaking with you or any witnesses
- Reviewing medical records
- Evaluating other evidence
After the adjuster has concluded their investigation, you can begin negotiating a settlement provided you are medically stabilized. Being towards the end of your treatment is vital so that you have an accurate reflection of the total amount of your damages.
Settling a case often involves submitting a demand letter to the insurance company and then waiting for a counteroffer. The insurance company might choose to deny your claim completely, pay what you ask, or make a counter offer that is lower.
When settlement negotiations are complete, you and your personal injury attorney will need to decide whether to accept the offer from the insurance company. If it is fair, you can avoid a costly legal battle and receive a check from the insurer within a relatively short period of time. If the insurance company isn’t treating you fairly, you have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit will happen when you can’t reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company. This might also be your best choice when the total value of your damages exceeds the policy limits that apply to your claim. If your accident was severe, a lawsuit could be the only way to secure full and fair compensation for your losses.
You can file a personal injury lawsuit any time after your accident as long as it is within two years of the date of the accident, which is the state of Alabama’s statute of limitations. For most minor accidents, it’s always best to attempt negotiation first, because lawsuits involve a significant amount of time and expense.
In addition to the costs, lawsuits also carry risks. Under some circumstances, the person bringing the lawsuit might be required to pay the other side’s costs and attorney fees. This can happen if a jury finds no liability or if the court dismisses the lawsuit.
For these reasons, it always makes sense to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney that will protect your interests. Not only should your attorney attempt to get the best settlement possible through negotiation and other means, they should also be ready and able to aggressively pursue full damages at trial.
Speak with a Qualified Mobile Personal Injury Attorney
If you were not at fault in the accident, you might think that it’s going to easy to reach a fair settlement with the insurance company. But this is not necessarily the case. An insurance company exists to make a profit and not to pay out large settlements. At The Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC, we have extensive experience dealing and communicating with insurance companies on behalf of injured clients. Our goal is to make sure you receive fair compensation for your losses, and from the outset of your case, we prepare relentlessly for the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit (if necessary). Contact our Mobile office now at (251) 473-6691 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.