After an Accident: Insurance Claim or Lawsuit?
Injury can be compensated through insurance claims or with a damages award after a lawsuit if you can prove the defendant or defendants were negligent. Although neither method guarantees recovery and nether is pain-free, there are substantial differences in the processes and the expense of attempting to recover in one context versus the other.
In most accident or injury situations it's wise to first attempt recovery for injury through insurance. Filing a lawsuit is a good idea after an insurance claim has been denied, or after extremely grave injuries where extensive compensation will be needed for a long time or even a lifetime. Let's look at the issues involved.
Accidents and Injury Claims
Let's use an automobile accident as an example, although all kinds of injuries are compensated by insurance, whether your policy or that of another. Say you're hurt in a car accident -- you call your insurer, make a claim, document your injury and losses through photos and records of medical visits and more. Then you wait for the claims adjuster to review your claim.
If the insurance company or companies are giving you a hard time, you may start to consider a lawsuit. But think very hard before you do file papers because personal injury trials are complex and can be quite expensive.
A claims adjuster may ask you for additional evidence, proof that you require as much compensation as claimed. Try whenever possible to give the insurance adjuster what they need to receive so that they can give you what you want, which is compensation for your injury.
If, ultimately, your claim is denied or your injury is very grave -- then a negligence lawsuit may be just what the doctor ordered. Proving negligence is not easy, however, and even if you do file suit, you may be advised to settle before trial.
Most personal injury claims are resolved before trial because lawsuits are expensive. Although many injury attorneys take cases on contingency -- meaning they will not recover unless you do and will shell out for expenses in advance of any damages award -- you must realistically weigh the risks involved in a trial.
Settlements are designed to minimize risk of loss and gain for all parties. If you can't afford to gamble and potentially recover nothing, you will have to seriously consider settlement, which is common in all areas of the law.
Talk to a Lawyer
There are many issues to consider when you are injured. Even if you do not intend to sue, consider talking to a lawyer about what you should do. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your claim.
- Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Proving You're Not at Fault in a Car Accident (FindLaw's Injured)
- Protecting a Settlement From Your Health Insurance Provider (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Standard of Care and the "Reasonable Person" (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.