What is the difference between a premises liability claim and a lawsuit?

Premises Liability Law BookAlthough the terms are often used interchangeably, a premises liability claim and lawsuit are different in Virginia. It is essential to understand their differences, so you know how to best pursue your rights to obtain the compensation you deserve for injuries you suffered in a premises liability accident.

What Is a Claim?

If you were hurt in a premises liability accident, your first step to seek the damages you are entitled to would be to file a claim with the negligent property or business owner’s insurance company. This is an out-of-court process of trying to settle your case.

The best way to file your claim is to retain a knowledgeable premises liability lawyer to file it for you. They would send the insurance company a demand letter explaining their liability to pay you, your injuries, and the amount of compensation you are seeking. The insurance adjuster would investigate your accident and injuries before responding to the demand letter. They would most likely begin by offering you a lowball settlement offer you should not accept. Your attorney and the insurance adjuster could go through a series of offers and counteroffers before your claim is settled.

What Is a Lawsuit?

Filing a lawsuit involves having your case decided through the court system. You would need to file a civil complaint if the statute of limitations to file your lawsuit is expiring soon, or the insurance company denied your claim or refused to offer you a fair settlement. Here are the basic steps in litigating your case:

  • Complaint. Your lawyer would file a complaint explaining your premises liability accident, how the owner’s negligence caused it, your injuries, and the damages requested.
  • Answer. After being served with the lawsuit, the home or property owner, referred to as the defendant, would file an answer to it, admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint.
  • Discovery. Discovery is the phase of your case where the defendant’s attorney and your attorney obtain documents, testimony, and other information from each other and third parties. Common types of discovery include interrogatories, which are written questions to be answered, requests to produce documents, subpoenas for documents or additional information, and depositions.
  • Mediation. Some courts require civil cases to go through court-ordered mediation before scheduling a jury trial date. In addition, your lawyer will enter into settlement negotiations with the defendant’s attorney, which would most likely result in a settlement of your case at some point in the litigation process.
  • Trial. If your case is not settled, it would be decided at a jury trial.

If you were injured in a premises liability accident in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk areas, our experienced premises liability attorneys are here to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 or complete our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation today.