Finding yourself injured at the hands of another driver on the road is a frustrating experience that can leave you confused in regard to next steps. The natural instinct may be to file an insurance claim against the person to cover damages or potential medical expenses that you suffered due to the accident. However, if you believe that the person acted with negligence, then filing a personal injury lawsuit may actually be the smarter choice. Learn everything you need to know about the difference between a claim and a lawsuit to determine which is right for your situation.
What is the Difference Between a Claim and Lawsuit?
Many people often confused the terms claim and lawsuit despite the fact that they are not actually the same. An insurance claim doesn’t go through the legal system, rather two separate insurance companies who the drivers of vehicles have active policies with. When one driver files an insurance claim, their claim is sent to the other insurance company to be paid if the other driver is found to be at-fault for the accident.
On the other hand, a personal injury lawsuit is a civil suit that is filed against another person. Sometimes known as tort law, the definition of a personal injury lawsuit revolves around making one person whole from a monetary standpoint after an accident caused by another person or organization. The decision in a personal injury lawsuit is legally binding. For the majority of people, insurance claims will be most applicable following an accident, but if another driver seriously injured you due to their negligent actions, a personal injury lawsuit may be the best choice.
Personal Injury Lawsuit 101
Personal injury lawsuits have four foundational components that must be proved in a court of law in order to have a chance at winning the case. These four components, in order, include:
Duty of Care
First, it must be established that the defendant in the case had a duty of care to others around them. This means that they had a responsibility to act in such a manner that their behavior was reasonable and would not pose a risk to others around them. All drivers have a duty of care to keep other drivers and pedestrians safe when they get behind the wheel.
Breach of Duty of Care
Second, it must be shown that the aforementioned duty of care was breached by the defendant in some way. This means that their behavior must have changed and become negligent, meaning it showed a disregard to the health and wellbeing of others around them. For example, a driver choosing to go on their phone while actively driving could represent a breach of their duty of care.
Third, it must be shown that the driver who caused the injury did so directly due to their breach of duty of care. Sticking with the same example, it could be argued that a driver who chooses to check their phone, only to not see a light turn red, and then slamming into a pedestrian crossing the street had causation.
Finally, it must be shown that the damages the plaintiff is suing for are justified based on the injuries they sustained due to the actions of the defendant. In most cases, this is proven using medical records or other official documents.
Can You File Both a Claim and a Lawsuit?
When considering the difference between an insurance claim and a lawsuit, many people often wonder whether they can file both. In most situations, yes, a person could file both an insurance claim and lawsuit if they believe the insurance claim settlement amount does not cover the entire scope of their injuries. Insurance companies do not cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, which is a common reason for why a person may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to their insurance claim. Alternatively, a person may suffer chronic injuries in the future related to their accident that they didn’t notice immediately after the accident.
The Bottom Line
Nobody should settle for living with the aftereffects of an injury that wasn’t their fault. While honest mistakes certainly happen on roadways around the world, a situation where insurance is often the best bet, it may be necessary to take things further if the other driver acted negligently. Consider filing a person injury lawsuit with the help of an accredited attorney if you have not been made whole after your accident.