Understanding The Personal Injury Process

When Should An Injury Claim Escalate Into A Lawsuit?

When a client talks with a personal injury lawyer about the way a case is likely to unfold, one of the concerns they're likely to have is regarding the chances it becomes a lawsuit. While settling without legal action is the ideal scenario and the most likely one, the reality is that a small percentage of cases do end up in litigation. It's worth looking at the four ways a claim might have to be escalated into a lawsuit.


This is the situation where suing is likely to be the only path forward. In this scenario, a claim has been submitted to an insurance company and an adjuster has reviewed it. The adjuster has also determined that the claim is not valid for one of a variety of reasons. Given that adjusters generally try to pay out settlements on all valid claims, this is a very concerning moment in a case.

You and your personal injury attorney will need to discuss whether you want to proceed. Short of bringing something dramatic to the insurance company's attention, though, filing a lawsuit is the only strong option left.

Negotiations Have Failed

In this scenario, an adjuster has accepted the validity of the claim. They have proceeded to make a settlement offer based on their assessment of the incident in question and data the industry uses. Unfortunately, the offer is unsatisfactory, and subsequent attempts to arrive at a better number have failed.

There's always going to be a judgment call regarding suing under such circumstances. On the one hand, going to court is going to consume more time. On the flip side, the threat of having to explain themselves to a jury stands a good chance of compelling the insurance company to make a better settlement offer.

Self-Insured Defendant

Another scenario that can be challenging to deal with is when the defendant is self-insured, whether by choice or economic circumstance. It's certainly possible for a self-insured defendant to make a settlement offer. Generally, though, the lack of an experienced adjuster in the process increases the risk of a suit. Self-insured parties may also be stickier in their position, especially if they insist on not paying. It may take a lawsuit to get compensation.

Claims of Immunity

A significantly less likely circumstance is a claim of immunity from a government agency that's a defendant. This can lead to complex litigation regarding the immunity claim before a suit can proceed.

For more information, contact a personal injury attorney in your area.