What Is the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Lawsuit?

One of the first steps to take after sustaining a personal injury is to decide between filing a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. However, the differences between the two can be unclear for many who are unfamiliar with these cases.

For example, you could sustain a slip and fall injury and wish to pursue legal action against the individuals or business responsible. Your injuries could result in costly medical bills, rehabilitative therapy, and lost wages due to time taken off from work to recover. To further complicate matters, you may experience chronic pain that continues to affect you long after the initial incident. 

To recover the damages sustained in your accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the liable party, or you can choose to file a personal injury claim to reach a settlement. We help clients receive the right compensation from car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, birth injury and workers compensation.

Lucky for you, Sutter Law Group is an experienced group of accident attorneys, representing clients filing personal injury claims and personal injury lawsuits in DuPage, Cook, McHenry & Kane Counties. If you’ve been injured in an accident and wonder if you should file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation, today! 

While you wait for our call, below  is a guide to help you understand the difference between personal injury lawsuits and claims, which can help determine which is ideal based on your individual circumstances.


The Differences Between a Personal Injury Lawsuit and a Claim

There are several different kinds of damages that individuals could sustain in a personal injury for compensation can be sought through either a lawsuit or a personal injury claim. Some of the damages involved in a personal injury case could include:

• Medical expenses and treatment
• Therapy and rehabilitation costs
• Lost wages resulting from time off work needed to recover
• Pain and suffering
• Damage to personal property pertaining to the case

Obviously no two cases are alike. Depending on the nature of the case and your circumstances, we may consider filing either a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. Mark Sutter is one of the best personal injury lawyers in Illinois.


How Personal Injury Claims Work

Personal injury claims typically involve the injured party and an insurance company, which could include homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, malpractice insurance, or business liability insurance.

When filing a personal injury claim in Illinois, individuals file with the negligent party’s insurance company prior to or in lieu of filing a lawsuit. In many cases, the negotiations result in an out-of-court, pretrial settlement that leaves both parties satisfied with the outcome.

For certain small claims, it’s possible to handle the claims process without the help of an attorney, but for more complex cases, working with a reputable lawyer can help ease the process. Some cases that might require the assistance of an attorney could include cases involving injuries from workplace incidents, medical malpractice, dangerous or faulty products, and other more potentially complicated or large cases.


How Personal Injury Lawsuits Work

You can file a personal injury lawsuit if a personal injury claim doesn’t yield the ideal results, or if the process of negotiating doesn’t lead to a settlement.

Filing a lawsuit could be the next step after a claim if a claims adjuster refuses to accept the claim or disagrees with the assessment of injuries and the amount of compensation you seek.


What to Expect When Filing a Personal Injury Claim

attorney-personal-injury-claim-illinoisThe claims process will begin after a victim sustains injuries and other damages resulting from the negligent acts of a third party. For example, following a car accident, the injury victim would file a claim against the driver who caused the accident, who will allow his or her auto insurance company to negotiate with the victim.

The insurer will then generate a specific case number and assign it to a designated claims adjuster, who will then open a claim and negotiate the settlement with the victim. Oftentimes both parties come to an agreement that doesn’t warrant a lawsuit, and the claim is settled pretrial.

It’s important to notify the at-fault party’s insurer immediately of your intention to file your claim, but avoid requesting compensation or negotiating with the claims adjuster until you have recovered as much as possible following the accident.

If you want to file a successful claim and secure a favorable outcome, you will need to be able to prove to the claims adjuster that the insured party was responsible for the accident, which could entail the adjuster reviewing any and all evidence, including:

• Your own testimony and that of other witnesses
• The police report
• Your medical bills and history
• The scene of the accident and photos or videos taken soon after the accident
• Damage to your vehicle and the total cost of repairs

Based on the nature of the case and your injuries, the claims adjuster will either approve or deny your claim and could pay anywhere from the full amount demanded to none of it. Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer like, Mark Sutter, is the best way to assure you receive the correct compensation.


What to Expect When Filing a Personal Injury Claim

If you are unable to come to a favorable settlement when filing a claim, you have the option of filing a lawsuit. Of course, you have the option to file a lawsuit from the start, but unless the case is serious, a lawsuit will usually only come after a claim.


What to Expect When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Unlike a claim, a lawsuit will pursue legal action against the party who was at fault as opposed to their insurance company. It’s typically best to try to reach a settlement through a claim unless the negotiations dissolve and a lawsuit becomes your only option. The litigation process involved in a lawsuit can be stressful and financially draining, and you aren’t guaranteed to reach an outcome that leaves you satisfied.

When to Consider Arbitration

If negotiations around your claim fall through and fail to give you the results you want, you can choose arbitration in many cases before filing a lawsuit.

During arbitration, a third party called an arbitrator or arbiter will hear both sides involved and reach a decision that neither party will be able to appeal. The process of arbitration is less time-consuming and expensive than a lawsuit, and there are certain types of arbitration to consider.

When to Consult with an Attorney

If you need any assistance going through the claims process or filing a lawsuit, it’s often best to work with a personal injury attorney who can help you understand more about your case and seek the compensation you deserve. Consulting with an attorney can help determine if you have a viable case and you can more easily navigate the prelitigation and litigation processes.


While you may not need an attorney for a minor claim or lawsuit, you are better off seeking representation if matters become more complex. Consultation with an experienced Personal Injury lawyer in DuPage County should be included as a priority in any accident case.  Contact Sutter Law Group today to increase your chances of avoiding a conviction. Mark has successfully represented clients in personal injury claims and personal injury lawsuits from Schaumburg, Hoffman Estate, Roselle, Elmhurst, Downer’s Grove, Oak Brook, Westmont and other surrounding Chicago suburbs in all types of claims and cases.


CONTACT US TODAY: 312-724-5600


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