What is the difference between a personal injury claim and a lawsuit?
Understanding how a personal injury claim or lawsuit works can be confusing. Scott & Wallace is here to walk you through it!
A claim is presented directly to the insurance company. Relevant evidence is collected and is presented informally to the insurance company usually as attachments to a demand letter. From there, negotiations take place directly with the insurance company’s representatives. If and when a settlement agreement is reached, the claim ends.
A lawsuit is a formal complaint filed in a court of competent jurisdiction. Although the vast majority of lawsuits result in settlement, if they do not, the claims alleged in a lawsuit are presented to a jury at a trial. This is how lawsuits ultimately conclude.
What do I do first?
It is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after suffering an injury in an accident. It is necessary to do this regardless of how minor you may believe your injuries are. If your injuries are very minor, you may choose never to present a claim. However, medical documentation of your injury complaints and symptoms is important evidence during the claims process. It helps prove the temporal relationship between your injuries and your accident.
Consult a personal injury attorney
Call Scott & Wallace for all personal injuries, big or small, following an accident. It is a good idea to discuss your injuries with a lawyer who practices personal injury law to make sure you are taking the right steps. At Scott & Wallace, we can quickly, but thoroughly assess your case, and specifically advise you about what steps you should be taking and how you should proceed.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit
When a personal injury claim does not settle, a lawsuit may be warranted. After your lawsuit is filed, it may take anywhere from 9 months – 2 years for it to conclude. While this may seem daunting and perhaps even frustrating, at Scott & Wallace we handle all aspects of the legal process. We also front all costs associated with the litigation. We are trial attorneys, so this process is second nature to us. While not all cases should be litigated, sometimes litigation is the only way to ensure that our clients receive substantial and fair compensation for severe or even catastrophic injuries.
What is the mediation process?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution process, usually court-ordered by the presiding judge in a lawsuit, where the attorneys for the litigants on both sides try and negotiate a settlement of the case with the assistance of a certified mediator. A mediator is a neutral whose only goal is to help facilitate a resolution of the case. He or she is not an advocate for either party and has no interest in how the case settles or for how much. The mediator’s tactics as a neutral primarily involve assessing the case in that way (through the neutral lens of one without a stake in the outcome) with the hope that he or she can elucidate the weaknesses of each party’s respective position and, by doing so, help encourage a compromise. If the parties come to an agreement, the case settles. If they do not, an impasse is declared. This means that the mediation is concluded without a settlement agreement. If the mediation is not successful, the case will remain in litigation and/or on the trial docket. Mediation is a confidential process.
What is the trial like?
Trials involve the presentation of the underlying claim(s) to a factfinder. When it comes to negligence cases, like motor vehicle accidents, the trial will involve empaneling a jury. A judge will preside over the trial. His or her role will be to remain neutral, to call “balls and strikes” to ensure the rules of evidence are enforced, and to inform and educate the jury on the substantive law governing the claim presented. The attorneys for each side will present the evidence. At the beginning of the trial, the attorneys have the opportunity to make a statement about what they expect the evidence to be during the trial, and then, at the end, they have an opportunity to make final arguments about what the evidence has been and why their client should prevail.
With that said, trials have become increasingly rare in the current climate. Most cases that go to trial are death claims or claims involving very serious, or even life-altering injuries. The reason for this is quite simple. The trial process is long and grueling, and trials are expensive. However, as mentioned above, at Scott & Wallace we front all costs associated with litigating claims, including all trial-related costs. Our lawyers have extensive trial experience and are always prepared to go to trial. Insurance companies are aware of the lawyers who try cases and those who do not. Believe it or not, in many circumstances, it is your lawyers trial record that may keep your case from ever going to trial. So when choosing a lawyer, make sure you inquire about your lawyers qualifications and trial experience.
If you or a loved one are suffering from a serious personal injury as a result of someone else’s actions or you believe that someone else’s actions contributed to causing an injury, the lawyers at Scott & Wallace can help. It is always free to talk to us. There are no fees or costs unless we win your case.