You can sue an individual, a business, or several parties for your injury. Though it’s often an insurance company who will pay you compensation, insurers are not the ones you’ll name as defendants in a lawsuit.
One of biggest obstacles injured people face in getting the compensation they deserve is the reluctance to “sue” someone. A lot of people say that they’re “not the suing type,” and they go to great lengths to avoid being seen as the “bad guy.”
Unfortunately, when you take this approach to the extreme, you end up footing the bill for someone else’s mistakes or negligence. Misconceptions about personal injury claims are widespread, and it’s important for injured people to better understand the process, so they don’t get taken advantage of by insurance companies, at-fault parties, and the legal system.
First, the Difference Between a Claim and a Lawsuit
Personal injury “claim” and personal injury “lawsuit” are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference. A claim, which often precedes a lawsuit, is what an injured person files to seek compensation from the at-fault party and the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If settling a claim isn’t possible, a lawsuit is filed and dealt with in court. Most personal injury issues are settled before they go to court. In some circumstances, a settlement is reached during lawsuit proceedings.
These distinctions are largely semantic for someone who hires a lawyer to handle their case. You won’t be required to know the differences between lawsuits and claims, but it’s worth noting that you could get payment for your injuries without technically “suing” anyone.
The Issue That Leads to Many Personal Injury Cases
No two cases are exactly the same. However, there are some common themes we notice when someone comes to our office for help. When our personal injury attorneys take a case, it’s often because an insurance company has denied a claim for compensation or offered a very low amount of money to our client.
Though issues of liability and damages are central to the arguments made by both sides in an injury claim, the need for filing a claim often stems from an insurance company’s refusal to pay an injured person what they believe they deserve.
Who Are You Technically Suing in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
An injured person might be filing a claim because an insurer refused to pay what they’re owed, but the injured person isn’t filing a lawsuit against the insurance company. They’re filing the claim against the party responsible for their injuries.
In many cases, the insurance company uses their own attorney to represent the defendant (the party accused of being at fault). Insurance companies may also be the ones paying most of the settlement or verdict determined by a jury. But, technically, the party responsible for causing the injuries is the one named in a lawsuit.
Businesses can also be sued in personal injury claims. For example, if someone is injured by a faulty product, they can sue the manufacturer of that product for the damages they’ve suffered. If someone slipped and fell at a business, they can file a lawsuit against that business.
Depending on the injury, an injured person could file a lawsuit against several defendants. If they’re injured through medical malpractice, for instance, they might name a doctor, staff members, and the facility itself as defendants.
Who Pays the Settlement in a Personal Injury Claim?
In many personal injury claims, an insurance company will pay some or all of the settlement or verdict amount owed to the injured person. This is typically true in vehicle accident-related cases. However, the at-fault party’s insurance company will only pay the amount covered through the at-fault party’s policy.
The remainder of the settlement or verdict amount could be paid by the at-fault party (provided they have the assets to do so) or another insurance company. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your own policy might make up the difference between what you’re owed and what the at-fault party’s policy will cover.
When lawsuits are filed against businesses, the business might pay some of the funds from its own assets. That business might also have an insurance policy that covers all or part of the compensation the injured person is awarded.
In addition, defendants may be required to pay additional out-of-pocket compensation to victims, called punitive damages, if a jury determines they intentionally or maliciously caused them harm.
Should You Feel Bad for Suing Someone?
As we mentioned, injured people are often reluctant to file a claim or a lawsuit. Maybe they don’t want to be seen as someone who sues another person. Maybe they’re worried about the implications of naming someone in a lawsuit.
Whatever the reasons someone has for not taking legal action, it’s always worth remembering that filing a claim or a lawsuit isn’t about asking for a “handout” or seeking “easy money.”
Those ideas are widely promoted by parties who have a vested interest in keeping lawsuit filings to a minimum. But they ignore the fact that a personal injury claim is simply about demanding what an injured person needs to get their life back to normal.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you’re refusing to foot the bill for someone else’s mistakes. That means the payment you’re seeking often comes from an insurance company, not the person you’re suing.
Do You Need Help with a Personal Injury Case?
If you or a loved one is considering filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, contact the Massachusetts personal injury attorneys at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers.