Should I File A Personal Injury Lawsuit or Claim?

There are many reasons someone might be considering filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Let’s say someone is injured in a car accident caused by another party and suffers the cost of unexpected medical bills, in addition to chronic pain. Is this a legitimate reason to file a claim?

To get an answer to this question and others that are similar, be sure to keep reading! It is important to note, however, that all cases are unique. To get answers to your specific injury case, it is important to hire the help of a reputable personal injury attorney.

Is It A Lawsuit Or A Claim?

While the terms may be synonymous in your mind, there is a difference between a claim and a lawsuit in regard to personal injury damages. Both are tools to seek compensation for damages.

A claim is typically filed with the insurance organization of the offending party. This starts a series of negotiations directly with the insurance provider. The goal of these negotiations is to end with a settlement payment that both parties agree to.

A lawsuit is what happens when the process for a negotiated settlement falls apart and the parties can’t come to an agreement.

While a claim is a more simple tool to use when seeking compensation for damages, you should consult with a respected local attorney before you file or sign any paperwork with the insurance company. Remember, the insurance company stays in business by keeping as much money as they can, not by paying out.

When Can You File For A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

In the above example of being injured in an automobile accident that was not your fault, then you may likely have grounds to file a claim or a lawsuit.

Be aware that there are deadlines for certain types of lawsuits. For personal injuries, Tennessee-based lawsuits need to be filed within a year from the accident date, unless the injured person is a minor, and then they have until they turn 19 years old to file a lawsuit. However, it is best to start the process as soon as possible. It is recommended that you factor in the time needed to hire a lawyer to investigate and build your case.

How Much Can I Ask For In A Personal Injury Settlement?

The amount your personal injury case is worth in Tennessee will depend on a variety of factors. Two of the main determining factors are how bad your injuries are and the amount of money available through the responsible party’s insurance policy.

During the case, your attorney will determine the types of damages you can seek in your claim. Examples include:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Loss of income and diminished earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Loss of consortium

Are Personal Injury Settlements Taxable?

The taxable nature of a settlement is mostly governed by the Internal Revenue Code under Section 61 and 104. Generally, compensation for a claim is excluded from being federally taxed if it is for injury or sickness.

When a settlement for a claim is only compensatory for the damages, they will typically not be subjected to taxation. For more information on your particular situation, be sure to consult with a tax professional.

What Is Personal Injury Protection?

Personal injury protection (PIP) is auto insurance coverage that comes into play in states that have “no-fault” insurance. PIP is meant to cover medical bills and loss of income after an accident, regardless of who caused the automotive accident.

Tennessee is not a “no-fault” state, so those involved in accidents will likely have to pay for those costs themselves unless they can prove the fault of another party.

The main exception here is if your automobile liability insurance has medical payments coverage.

How Long Do Personal Injury Lawsuits Take?

There is no single answer to this question because no two cases are the same. However, most personal injury cases can take from eight months to almost three years to pursue.

One reason a case can take longer is that it cannot be fully completed or settled until you are deemed as good as you can get physically. The value and resolution of your case are driven by your recovery amount.

Do Personal Injury Cases Get Settled After The Deposition?

Depositions in personal injury cases happen during the discovery phase. It is where both sides get to ask each other about the injuries that resulted from the accident.

This facilitation, along with other processes, is meant to allow under the court’s supervision the exchange of information between parties.

If it goes well, a settlement can be reached before the need to go to trial.

How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?

If a settlement is agreed upon for a claim, it can take between four and six weeks to receive your settlement check. You will first need to complete a settlement process, and it often varies slightly from case to case. The insurance company will require you to sign a release to settle the claim.

The check will be sent to your attorney to pay off any liens placed against the funds for medical bills and other fees.

Finally, the attorney’s fees and other associated costs will be deducted before the balance is given to you. Typically, you’ll receive payment in the form of a check from your attorney’s office.

If your claim is not settled and instead becomes a lawsuit, then payout can become a much more complicated and drawn-out process, especially if you have to collect from an individual.

Can Child Support Be Taken From A Settlement?

Yes. All settlement payments in Tennessee are first sent through the state’s Treasury Offset Program. It is a federal database that contains all debts individuals may have through state and federal agencies. If you get a settlement and are behind on your child support, the settlement can be used to pay any delinquent child support payments.

What Are Special Damages?

In personal injury cases, special damages are those damages that are quantifiable, such as lost wages or medical bills.

If a spouse is filing the claim, they may also seek additional damages. These can include loss of companionship, loss of consortium and loss of marital benefits and assistance. In Tennessee, family members may also seek damages for the value of a loved one’s life. This is an approximate monetary value of how much the loved one could have earned in their lifetime.

Is It Worth Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney?

Personal injury attorneys have the necessary experience, time and resources to challenge insurance companies and the adjusters they employ. They can devote their knowledge to getting you the best possible outcome in your case. The more serious your case is, the more you will benefit from hiring the help of a reputable attorney.

Can You File A Claim Without Hiring A Lawyer?

If you have been injured and want to file a personal injury claim, you may do so on your own without hiring a lawyer. However, you may be putting your case at risk of losing.

It is difficult to go up against insurance companies alone. They are experts at what they do and will try to settle your case quickly and for as little compensation as possible. 

Insurance policies contain language that is hard for average people to understand. Plus, you’ll be fighting against adjusters that are aggressive and skilled at limiting insurance company claims. Why wouldn’t you want a skilled partner on your side?

When Do I Need A Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you have been seriously injured, it is best to hire a lawyer right away. Personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of one year following the date of the accident. In Tennessee, it is important to pay attention to the statute of limitations and fully comply with them. 

If you let more than one year pass without filing a lawsuit, the court may choose not to hear your case at all. Not all cases are the same, but most will need the same level of help from a reputable lawyer. They can help establish liability, prove damages and obtain a settlement for you.

How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge?

The amount a personal injury attorney will charge depends on a variety of factors surrounding your case. Most attorneys will only take on cases without money upfront if they feel the case has merit. This is also called a contingency basis. 

This means you will agree to give them a certain percentage of your settlement. This percentage usually averages between 25 and 40 percent. 

What Questions Should I Ask A Personal Injury Lawyer?

Hiring the right lawyer is essential to obtain a good outcome of your case. It is important to ask specific questions to help you decide. Never hire an attorney unless you are confident they can handle your case successfully. Some questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing in Tennessee?
  • Do you have experience working on cases similar to mine?
  • What typically are your fees?
  • Will you personally work on my case?
  • What kind of results have you been able to get for your other clients with cases similar to mine?

Can I Get A Free Consultation For My Claim or Lawsuit?

Absolutely! To schedule your free initial consultation, give Jed McKeehan a call today at (865) 294-8008.