What's the Difference Between a Claim vs. a Lawsuit?
If another party causes you harm or injury, Texas tort laws allow you to seek a personal injury recovery. Personal injury recoveries compensate injured parties for their economic and non-economic damages.
Most personal injury lawsuits begin as personal injury claims. Therefore, many people use the terms interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between a claim vs. a lawsuit.
In personal injury cases, a claim generally refers to an insurance claim. You file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company when you sustain an injury. For example, if you sustain injuries in a car accident, you file a claim with the other person’s insurance company. Texas drivers are required to have minimum liability insurance coverage for car crashes.
The insurance company assigns an insurance adjuster to investigate the cause of the car accident. If the adjuster agrees that the insured driver caused the car accident, the insurance company accepts liability for the claim. The company makes a settlement offer to resolve the claim.
Because a final settlement agreement releases all parties from all claims, it is best to seek legal advice before signing any documents or agreeing to a settlement. You could receive more money than you realize. The insurance company will not tell you if you are accepting a settlement lower than the value of your damages.
If the insurance company does not agree to settle the claim, you would need to file a lawsuit to pursue a personal judgment.
Because the Texas statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits, contact our law firm as soon as possible to discuss your case. If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit, you lose the legal right to pursue a claim against the person who caused your injury.
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Settling a personal injury claim through negotiations with the insurance company or other party has advantages. Typically, you receive money for a settlement quicker than you do if you file a lawsuit and go to court. Settlement claims are also less costly to pursue than a lawsuit.
However, if the insurance company and at-fault party refuse to accept liability for damages, your only alternative is to file a lawsuit.
A personal injury lawsuit is a formal legal action filed with a civil court. You are the plaintiff, as the injured party filing the lawsuit. The person or party who caused your injury is the defendant.
The insurance company usually hires a defense attorney to handle the lawsuit for the defendant. The parties engage in discovery to exchange information and evidence as they prepare their cases for trial. If the case goes to trial, both parties present their evidence, and the jury decides the case.
The plaintiff has the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit. The level of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the jurors must find that the evidence proves there is more than a 50% chance that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Negligence claims for personal injuries require that the plaintiff proves:
If the jury decides for the plaintiff, it determines a specific amount to award for damages.
Texas contributory fault laws apply to personal injury cases. If the jurors decide that the plaintiff is partially to blame for the cause of their injuries, the plaintiff’s compensation can be reduced by their percentage of fault. However, if the plaintiff is 51% or more to blame, they cannot recover any money for their damages.
Our lawyers provide honest assessments of your claim to help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer. Going to trial typically takes longer than settling a claim, but sometimes it is your best course of action.
Also, you cannot be sure how a jury will decide a case. There is no guarantee that the jurors will rule in your favor, even if you believe the evidence is strong in your favor.
At the same time, filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean your case will reach trial. Negotiations can continue, and filing a lawsuit may increase your bargaining power.
These factors are to say that, ultimately, the answer to this question will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case as well as your lawyer’s guidance.
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Our lawyers aggressively fight for fair compensation inside and outside of the courtroom. Let us help you receive the compensation you deserve after an accident or injury. At FVF Law, we understand how stressful and confusing a serious injury can be. Contact our law firm for a free consultation with an experienced Austin personal injury attorney at (512) 982-9328.
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