What’s the Difference Between a Claim and a Lawsuit?

By Peter DePaolis

You might hear the terms “personal injury claim” and “personal injury lawsuit” used interchangeably by some people. However, there is a significant difference between the two phrases. A personal injury claim involves you and the party at fault and/or the faulty party’s insurance company as you work out payment for your injuries. A personal injury claim does not involve the court system. A personal injury lawsuit occurs when you take the party at fault to court because the claim did not result in a fair settlement or because a claim was simply impractical.

After your personal injury, your attorney will make a claim on your behalf against the person or company that harmed you and the insurance companies. Essentially, the claim says that you suffered injuries and that someone else is responsible for causing those injuries. The insurance company then researches your claim. The insurer will look at police reports, accident reports, medical records, and any other evidence.

The insurance company will choose to pay all or some of your claim. Alternatively, it could also decide that you have no serious injuries and choose to pay nothing. If the insurer does not pay what it should or does not pay you at all, your personal injury lawyer will negotiate on your behalf towards a settlement that is fair and satisfactory to you. If negotiation fails, your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit in the courts.

Insurance companies often undervalue claims, because it is in their best interests to pay as little as possible. If you have suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, contact an attorney right away before trying to negotiate with the insurance company.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia Injury Attorneys

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.