Making an Insurance Claim vs. Filing Suit
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of another driver, it can be difficult to understand what steps to take. You are sometimes faced with the choice of filing an auto insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The approach you take may depend on where you are insured—Missouri or Kansas—and where the accident occurred.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in or around Kansas City, Missouri, including Overland Park, Kansas, contact our auto accident attorneys at the Denning Law Firm, LLC. Our lead attorney once served as legal counsel for the insurance industry, so our firm fully understands the tactics used by insurers to lowball or deny auto insurance claims. We will negotiate for the best possible compensation and—if warranted—take matters to the courtroom. Reach out to us immediately if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.
The Difference Between a Claim & a Lawsuit
Missouri and Kansas treat auto insurance differently. Missouri is a “fault” state, where the driver whose negligence causes the accident and injuries is required to pay up through insurance coverage or their own financial responsibility.
Kansas is a “no fault” insurance state. This means you must first report your accident and injuries to your own insurance company. The Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your auto insurance may then cover your medical expenses up to the limit you purchased.
In both states, insurance companies expect you to make timely claims. Generally, this means as soon after the accident as possible. Of course, you’ll want to seek medical evaluation and treatment as soon as possible as the basis for your claim, but you cannot wait two months or more to file your claim. Insurance policies contain riders requiring “timely reporting.”
Both Missouri and Kansas allow for personal injury lawsuits. In Missouri, you are fairly free to file a lawsuit for personal injuries at just about any point in the process. In Kansas, the bar is higher, and your medical expenses must exceed your PIP coverage and/or your injuries must be serious. Serious by Kansas law means:
Fractures of a weight-bearing bone
Compound or displaced fracture of any bone
Permanent loss of a bodily function
Pros & Cons of Filing an Insurance Claim
One benefit of filing an insurance claim is that the process should proceed fairly quickly—not to overlook the fact that insurance companies can drag their feet, hoping to wear you down and get you to accept a low-ball settlement.
A downside of filing an insurance claim concerns dealing with the insurance claims adjuster (or adjusters) assigned to you. If you’ve never dealt with an insurance adjuster, be advised that you can be “tricked” into saying something they can use to lowball or deny your claim. For example, they may call you and ask how you’re doing, and if you respond “fine” or “good,” they may use that to argue you’re not as injured as you claim.
They have other techniques in their arsenal to protect the insurance company’s bottom line—that is, to keep the settlement as low as possible. If you’re not familiar with how adjusters operate, you can become your own worst enemy in negotiations. It’s better to let a skilled and experienced auto accident attorney handle the entire process for you.
Pros & Cons of Filing a Lawsuit
One considerable downside to filing a lawsuit is that it can take time to reach a resolution. An insurance claim might take weeks, whereas a lawsuit can take months or even a year or more. Another downside is that the person you’re suing may not even have the personal resources to cover the compensation you’re seeking.
On the plus side, there are no longer any caps on the compensation you can receive as there might be under PIP or bodily injury coverage. Additionally, both economic and non-economic losses can be covered. Economic losses include medical expenses and lost wages due to your injuries. Non-economic losses will cover your pain, suffering, and more.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
First, obtaining experienced legal counsel is a great counter to insurance adjuster tactics. If your attorney is doing the negotiations, you won’t be tricked or forced into signing a low-ball settlement. Remember, once you agree to a settlement, your claim is over. You can’t go back for more compensation later on if your injuries resurface or continue to cause you economic loss. Your attorney will take all these factors into account in negotiating your settlement.
Second, a personal injury attorney can also advise you when your best option is a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney can evaluate every option for you and guide you in the proper direction to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Let the Denning Law Firm, LLC Guide You
If you or a loved one has been injured in or near Kansas City, Missouri, or Overland Park, Kansas, rely on the Denning Law Firm, LLC to handle your claim and evaluate whether you need to pursue a lawsuit. We have experience working both for insurance companies and for clients seeking claims against insurance companies. We know all the tactics of the big insurers and we can stand up for your rights. Reach out to us to set up a one-on-one consultation.