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When someone gets hurt due to someone else's actions, they might seek compensation for their injuries. This can happen through a personal injury (PI) claim or a personal injury (PI) lawsuit. But what are the differences between a claim and a lawsuit? Understanding these differences is crucial for anyone considering their options after an accident.

According to the National Institute of Health statistics, there are around 29 million physician office visits each year due to unintentional injuries. Knowing whether to file a PI claim or a lawsuit can greatly affect the outcome of seeking compensation.

This post aims to explore the differences between a PI claim and a PI lawsuit, helping you understand which path might be right for you.

What is a PI Claim?

A personal injury (PI) claim is the initial step in seeking compensation for injuries caused by someone else's actions or negligence. It involves notifying the at-fault party's insurance company about the injury, after which the insurance company investigates the incident to determine liability and the extent of the damages. The process culminates in negotiations between the injured party and the insurance company to reach a settlement that covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs. This method is typically quicker and less formal than going to court.

Advantages of a PI Claim

Filing a PI claim has several advantages:

Quicker Resolution: PI claims are often resolved faster than lawsuits. Settling out of court avoids the lengthy legal process.

Lower Costs: Claim settlements usually involve fewer legal fees and other costs compared to lawsuits.

Less Stressful: The process is generally less formal and less stressful than going to court.

When to File a PI Claim

You should consider filing a personal injury (PI) claim when the injury is relatively minor, the at-fault party’s insurance company is cooperative, and you seek a quicker resolution willing to accept a negotiated settlement. This option is suitable for cases where the damages are clear, and both parties can agree on a fair compensation amount without the need for formal legal proceedings. Additionally, if you prefer a less stressful and more straightforward process compared to filing a lawsuit, a PI claim may be the appropriate course of action.

What is a PI Lawsuit?

A personal injury (PI) lawsuit is a legal action taken when a PI claim cannot be settled through negotiation with the at-fault party's insurance company. In a PI lawsuit, the injured party files a formal complaint in civil court against the person or entity responsible for the injury. This initiates a legal process that involves gathering evidence, exchanging information, and possibly going to trial. If the case does not settle during the discovery phase, it proceeds to trial where a judge or jury decides the outcome based on the presented evidence. A judgment is then issued, determining the compensation or damages owed to the injured party. 

Advantages of a PI Lawsuit

Filing a PI lawsuit has its benefits:

Potential for Higher Compensation: Lawsuits can result in higher compensation compared to settlements since a judge or jury may award damages that the insurance company wouldn’t offer.

Legal Precedent: A favorable verdict can set a legal precedent that can influence future cases.

Full Disclosure: The discovery process ensures that all relevant information is disclosed, potentially strengthening your case.

When to File a PI Lawsuit

You should consider filing a personal injury (PI) lawsuit when the injury is severe or has long-term consequences, the insurance company denies the claim or offers an insufficient settlement, or you seek a larger compensation amount than what the insurance company is willing to pay. In such circumstances, filing a lawsuit may be necessary to pursue the full extent of compensation owed for your injuries and losses. Additionally, if negotiations with the insurance company fail to reach a satisfactory resolution or if liability is disputed, initiating a lawsuit provides a formal legal avenue to seek justice and hold the responsible party accountable through the court system.

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