If you or a loved one sustain injuries in a motor vehicle accident, an overwhelming amount of things happen all at once. As you struggle to keep the balance between doctor’s visits, accumulating bills and missing work, you might wonder about your legal options. Should you file a car accident claim or a car accident lawsuit?
Although sometimes people use the terms interchangeably, a claim and a lawsuit actually refer to different legal processes.
Filing a claim
A claim is a legal demand for compensation. Following your accident, you send a claim to your insurance provider for payment. At first, you will likely receive a low settlement offer from the insurance company. You have the option to accept, reject or make a counteroffer.
It may take some time to negotiate with the insurance until you reach a final offer. If your damages exceed the insurance coverage and you are still unhappy with the final settlement offer, you may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit
A lawsuit is a legal action decided in court. Civil lawsuits involve one party suing another party for compensation for their damages. The formal process of a lawsuit begins when you file a claim with the court.
There is a time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit. For example, in South Carolina, the statute of limitations states that you have three years from the date of the car accident to sue.
Some car accident cases are more efficiently settled through the insurance claims process while others require litigation to reach a solution.