When another person’s careless or wanton act gives you an injury, you have the right to hold that person accountable in Arizona. You can do so in one of two ways: a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. These are two different legal processes. You will most likely have an injury claim, not a lawsuit. Some complex cases, however, go to trial. Learning the difference between these two processes can help you prepare for your case. That’s why our Phoenix personal injury lawyers have out together this article to explain the key differences between a personal injury claim and a lawsuit.
Personal Injury Insurance Claim
A personal injury claim is another phrase for an insurance claim. Insurance companies provide financial benefits when their policyholders are liable for another person’s damages. If another driver caused your car accident, for example, his or her auto insurance company would pay for your medical bills and property damage repairs. Depending on the type of accident that injured you, you can file a claim against someone else’s auto insurance policy, homeowners insurance policy or business insurance policy.
You will initiate an injury claim by reporting your accident to the correct insurance company and following the agent’s directions for submitting a claim. The insurance company that will take your claim depends on the circumstances of the case, as well as the liability laws in your state. After an auto accident in Arizona, the state’s fault law requires you to seek benefits from the at-fault party. Once you submit a claim, expect to receive a phone call from someone called an insurance claims adjuster shortly after. Be careful what you say to the adjuster.
An insurance adjuster is professionally trained to analyze the facts of an insurance claim and recommend to the insurance company to accept or deny benefits. The adjuster will typically begin your case by asking you questions about the accident. Do not admit fault for your injury or agree to let the adjuster record you giving a statement. These are two mistakes that can lead to less compensation for your accident.
If you have serious or catastrophic personal injuries, it is wise to hire a personal injury lawyer in Phoenix to represent you during an injury claim. Otherwise, the insurance company may take advantage of you and offer less than your claim is worth. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company using proven strategies.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit is the next step if an injury claim fails. If the insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation, your lawyer can help you file an injury lawsuit in Arizona. You can also go to trial if the insurance company denies your claim without a valid reason. Like an injury claim, a lawsuit allows you to pursue financial compensation for your losses. Unlike a claim, however, you must prove to a jury that the defendant was negligent and that this is what caused your injuries. A typical injury lawsuit consists of seven main phases.
- Claim filing
- Pretrial conferences or mediation
- Jury selection
- Injury trial
In general, your lawyer will want to avoid an injury trial, as it is more costly and time-consuming than an injury claim. However, your lawyer will know when to pursue a personal injury lawsuit instead. If the insurance company unfairly denies your claim, a trial may be the only way to secure justice and hold the defendant accountable. Furthermore, an injury lawsuit could result in greater compensation than a settlement. You cannot seek pain and suffering or punitive damages from a settlement, for example, but you can from a lawsuit. Work with a personal injury lawyer to find out which legal option is best for your particular case.