Many people are unaware of the legal difference between filing a lawsuit and pursuing an injury claim. Simply put, an injury claim is the process of obtaining compensation from an insurer, while “filing suit” is a legal action that requires a response from the other party. Both are ways to secure payment for your injuries and losses after an accident, and which one is best for you depends on the circumstances of your case.
Steps to Take Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance system, all victims are required to seek payment through their individual insurance providers after an accident. The first step to take if you're injured is to notify your insurance company of the accident and request payment for your losses. The insurance company then begins investigating your claim. If the insurer accepts the claim and offers payment, you may accept the offer and your claim will be closed.
However, if the insurance company denies the claim or offers a low settlement offer, the injured party may respond with:
- Negotiation. An injury victim and an insurer may negotiate a settlement if the first offer isn't acceptable. This involves writing a letter to the insurance company—known as a demand letter—detailing why the amount offered isn't sufficient to cover the claim. These letters may contain receipts or estimates from medical providers and documents from employers outlining your future ability to earn a living. If the insurance company doesn't change its decision, you may proceed to mediation.
- Mediation. If you and the insurer agree on some points, you may be able to resolve the claim through mediation. This is a chance for you and the insurer to explain your points to a neutral third party, and the third party gives a recommendation on a settlement. If the mediator’s recommendation isn't sufficient or the insurer is still denying fair payment, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Filing suit. Filing a lawsuit—the process of actually filing legal papers at the courthouse with the Clerk of the Court—is typically only done after all other efforts to resolve the case have failed. At Johnson & Gilbert, P.A., we only file suit after exhausting all pre-suit options and thoroughly discussing them with our clients, and we always get our client's permission before filing suit.
If you're having trouble getting proper compensation for your injuries, our experienced personal injury attorneys can explain your options at no cost to you. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule your free case evaluation.