After a car accident, you may be wondering if you should simply file a claim with the insurance company or file a lawsuit. The line can be fine, but when you have a personal injury law firm in Southwest Virginia on your side, that distinction will be made clear. When should you negotiate a claim vs. file a lawsuit?
Keep in mind, claims and lawsuits are two very different entities.
- Personal Injury Claim: This is a formal request to an insurance company that does not involve the court system. You will negotiate a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- Personal Injury Lawsuit: This is when you file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver in a court of law. Your attorney can still negotiate a settlement during this lawsuit process, but if both parties can’t come to an agreement, the case will head to court.
The right option for you will depend on the extent of your injuries and the sum of money you’re looking to recover. It’s safe to say that most accident victims will attempt to first recover compensation through the insurance claims process before they turn to a more aggressive legal approach.
Negotiating a Personal Injury Claim
After the accident, file a claim immediately, usually within 24 to 48 hours. Once received, you will get a letter in the mail from the insurance adjuster called a Reservation of Rights (ROR). You will then send a demand letter to the insurance company explaining what happened, details of your injuries, and any evidence to back up your claims.
Once the insurance company has received this demand, they will start investigating your accident, the sole goal of which is to limit the payout you receive. The insurance company will then send you an initial settlement offer, which is always much, much lower than the figure you have calculated.
You can accept, reject, or make a counteroffer. If you decide to counter, this could be a back and forth process that takes months. Once you get your final offer, you will have to consider whether to accept it or not. The final offer is usually still quite low. If you decide not to accept, the next step is to file a personal injury lawsuit with your Roanoke personal injury lawyer.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
This may be a wise choice if you have suffered a very serious injury and will need a high amount of compensation. You will want to consider filing such a lawsuit if you suffered a:
- Head injury
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Eye injury
- Burn injury
- Catastrophic injury
- A loved one suffered a wrongful death
Remember, the costs associated with these injuries are astronomical. Filing a lawsuit is usually the only way to recover the necessary compensation.