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What’s the Difference Between Personal Injury Claims and Lawsuits?

Posted in Personal Injury

Contrary to what you may believe, you do not have to go to court to have someone pay for your medical bills and other losses after a personal injury accident in New Mexico. Bringing a personal injury claim does not necessarily – or typically – mean filing a lawsuit. Most personal injury claims in New Mexico settle rather than going to trial. Understanding the difference between a personal injury claim and a lawsuit can help you know what to expect from your case. It can also help you learn when to hire a personal injury attorney.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim is another term for an insurance claim. Specifically, it is a claim submitted to an insurance company that seeks benefits for expenses related to a personal injury, such as medical expenses and lost wages. A personal injury claim seeks benefits up to the insurance policy’s maximum. In New Mexico, a personal injury claim will typically go to the insurance company of the negligent or at-fault party. If a distracted driver caused your car accident, for example, you will file a personal injury claim with that driver’s auto insurance provider.

A personal injury claim will start with a phone call to the insurance company of the liable party. You should file an insurance claim as soon as possible after an accident in Albuquerque. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to review your claim. The adjuster will investigate the accident and ask you questions, as well as request evidence of your losses. If the adjuster believes you have a case, he or she will recommend to the insurance company to accept the claim. You or your lawyer will then negotiate a fair settlement from the insurance company and successfully resolve your personal injury claim.

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Some personal injury cases do not resolve at the insurance settlement stage. This might be the case if the claim encounters obstacles, such as an insurance company failing to treat the claimant fairly or properly estimate the value of the claim. The insurance company may deny a valid claim or offer a settlement that far undervalues the true worth of the victim’s injuries. In these situations, you may need to take the defendant to court for a positive outcome. If settlement negotiations do not end with a satisfactory resolution, you or your lawyer can take the defendant to trial in New Mexico instead.

A personal injury lawsuit takes a defendant to trial for allegedly causing an accident, injury and related losses through an act of negligence, carelessness or recklessness. Once you file a lawsuit, your attorney may be able to resolve your case during pretrial negotiations. If not, your lawyer will represent you during an injury trial. An injury trial places evidence and testimony from both sides before a judge and jury. The jury will then determine if the injured party (plaintiff) successfully proved the defendant’s negligence. If so, the jury will award a verdict to make up for the plaintiff’s past and future losses.

When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney in Albuquerque?

A simple claim involving minor injuries will not go to trial in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Minor injury claims are typically not high-value enough to be worth the costs of going to court. If you have catastrophic injuries, lost someone you loved, are encountering a liability dispute or experiencing another type of complication, however, you may need to go to trial to recover fair compensation.

The best way to protect your rights during a personal injury claim or lawsuit is by hiring an attorney. It is especially important to hire a lawyer if your injuries are serious. Your lawyer can help you through either type of legal process while looking out for your best interests. Contact an attorney near you as soon as possible after an injury in Albuquerque for more information about the claims process.

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