Negotiating a Personal Injury Claim Vs. Filing a Lawsuit

Were you injured in a Los Angeles accident where another person was negligent? If so, you are entitled to recover compensation for your injuries through either a personal injury claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Although the terms “personal injury claim” and “personal injury lawsuit” are used interchangeably, claims and lawsuits are actually very different.

Personal Injury Claims:

What is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim is a formal request made by an injured person to a negligent driver’s insurance company. The claim notifies the insurance company that you sustained injuries by one of their drivers and that you are seeking compensation for those injuries. The request goes to the insurance company adjuster, who will acknowledge your request by sending you a Reservation of Rights (ROR) letter. The letter indicates that the insurance company will be investigating your personal injury claim but reserves the right to deny the claim after their investigation is complete. Personal injury claims are the first step in the process of negotiating with an insurance company and do not involve the courts. If you have a question about personal injury claims, contact an LA personal injury lawyer for assistance.

When Do You File a Personal Injury Claim?

You should always notify the negligent driver’s insurance company shortly after the accident. But, don’t make a demand for compensation or accept a settlement offer until you know the full extent of your injuries and have recovered from those injuries. Until you have recovered, you won’t know how much your personal injury claim is worth. Personal injury claims are usually filed for short-term minor injuries.  Although you can skip the claims process and file a lawsuit, minor accident victims generally try to negotiate directly with the insurance company to avoid a lengthy and costly civil lawsuit. Common lawsuit expenses include expert medical testimony, depositions and transcripts, medical records and police reports, time off from work, and court filing fees, to name a few.

The Negotiation Process

Before a claims adjuster settles a personal injury claim, they investigate to see if their insured was responsible for the accident.  Was the insured negligent, what is the extent of your injuries, how much medical care did you receive, and how much did you spent on medical care. The adjuster will also review the police report, the accident scene photos, and car repair estimates, talk with you and all witnesses, among others. Once the adjuster has completed their investigation, they will either make an offer or deny the claim. Adjusters are trained to make low-ball offers initially and hope that you accept it. If they make a settlement offer, it will probably be smaller than you expected.

If you’ve done your research, you will know how much your personal injury claim is worth. That is where the negotiation starts. You can either accept, reject, or make a counteroffer. If you make a counteroffer, be prepared to provide reasons for the additional compensation you request. Remind the adjuster that the accident was their driver’s fault, that you have been out of work with lost income, that you suffer continual pain, to name a few. If you are unable to agree on a fair settlement, you can contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney for advice.

Personal Injury Lawsuits:

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injury lawsuits are civil law legal disputes against those responsible for injuries to another person. In a personal injury lawsuit, an attorney either represents you to settle your case in an informal settlement out of court or in formal court proceedings before a judge.

When Do You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit may become necessary when you cannot reach an agreement with a claims adjuster during the personal injury claims process. The claims adjuster may have denied liability, refused to negotiate or extend a fair settlement offer, or the insured driver’s insurance will not cover the cost of your injuries. You may also wish to file a lawsuit if you suffered severe injuries such as nerve damage, burns, deformities, brain damage, etc. In those cases, a personal injury claim may not the best solution, and you can consult a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer for advice.

What Happens When Filing a Lawsuit?

  • Filing a Complaint LetterThe complaint letter explains the injuries you sustained and the facts surrounding the injuries, the person(s) you are suing, the legal basis for your complaint, and the dollar amount of damages you are seeking.
  • Serving The DefendantThe defendant is served with a copy of the complaint and related paperwork. It allows the defendant to file an answer, dispute the allegations made against them, and provide a defense. The service also provides proof to the court that the defendant is aware of the complaint.
  • DiscoveryBoth parties to a case exchange relevant information, request documents, depositions, medical examinations, and interrogatories (written questions that require responses), to name a few. The goal of discovery is to prevent each side from hiding information from the other.
  • NegotiationsAlthough a lawsuit is pending, both parties are encouraged to negotiate in an attempt to end the lawsuit. If the parties are unable to arrive at a fair settlement, the lawsuit goes to court.
  • LitigationWhen you litigate a case, a judge and jury hear the evidence, listen to expert testimony and witnesses, and make a decision. The jury can decide in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. If the defendant is negligent, the jury will decide on an appropriate compensatory award.

Help With Your Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit

M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers is a Los Angeles personal injury law firm that can help you get the compensation you deserve. If you need help with a personal injury claim or require representation in a personal injury lawsuit, we have the experience and knowledge to represent you. M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers provides free consultations for all personal injury claims.

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