Difference Between Personal Injury Claim and Lawsuit | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

When a person is injured in an accident caused by another party, Virginia law allows the victim to pursue damages against the at-fault party for both economic and noneconomic damages they may have suffered due to the injury. These damages can include financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional anguish. If you have been injured in an accident, a Virginia personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and determine what damages you may be able to recover.

Personal Injury Claim Vs. Personal Injury Lawsuit

In order to pursue those damages, your Virginia accident attorney will typically file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. For example, in a car accident, the claim would be filed against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy or a hit-and-run accident caused by an unidentified driver may fall under the uninsured motorist provisions of one of our client’s car insurance policies.

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There are situations where your attorney will realize that negotiations over a personal claim will be futile, and file a personal injury lawsuit right away instead. This could happen if it appears that the insurance company will deny the claim and negotiations will lead nowhere. However, in the majority of situations, the first step will be a personal injury claim, with a well-documented demand package of information sent to the car insurance adjuster.

Personal Injury Claim

When your Virginia car accident attorney files a personal injury claim with the insurance company, an adjuster will be assigned to the claim to determine several things:

  • Did their client cause the accident?
  • Were there injuries sustained by the victim that were caused by the accident?
  • What are the economic and noneconomic losses the victim has suffered?
  • Will there be future losses also suffered by the victim because of the injuries?

Having your attorney handle all negotiations with the insurance company will be in your best interest. Insurance companies are for-profit companies and will look to pay the least amount in damages possible, in one place that they particularly try to save money is in denying that there will be future medical bills or expenses as part of the claim. Your attorney will know which of your medical records the insurance company needs and does not need to process your claim and if the company is negotiating in good faith or not.

If the insurance company offers too low a settlement or denies the claim completely, your Virginia car accident attorney will then file a personal injury lawsuit.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you and your attorney make the decision to file a lawsuit, the defendant in the lawsuit will be the at-fault party, not the insurance company, however, the insurance company’s lawyer will be the one representing their client. A trial date will be set, giving both sides the opportunity to argue their case to a jury. The jury will then make the decision on whether or not the at-fault party’s actions did cause the accident and, if so, how much the victim should be awarded in damages.

Let Our Legal Team Advocate for You

If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, contact a skilled Virginia personal injury attorney from our Shapiro & Appleton to find out how we can help. Using our more than three decades of legal experience, our attorneys have successfully represented many injured clients in getting them the compensation they deserved.