We ONLY Get Paid When YOU WIN! – Call Now and Schedule Your FREE Consultation!


Las Cruces

What is the Difference between “Suing” and “Opening a Claim”?

Lawyer looking at a case

When most people think about hiring a lawyer, the image that often comes to mind involves a courtroom, a judge, and a dramatic lawsuit. This common perception suggests that getting a lawyer means you are gearing up to sue someone. However, this view is incomplete. Lawyers do much more than sue; they often negotiate on your behalf, handle claims, and work toward settlements without ever stepping into a courtroom. Understanding the difference between suing and opening a claim is essential for those with a problem that needs legal resolution.

What is Suing?

Suing is bringing legal action against another party in a court of law. It involves a formal process that starts with filing a lawsuit. Suing typically entails:

  1. Filing a Lawsuit: The process begins with the plaintiff (the person suing) filing a complaint with the court. This document outlines the plaintiff’s allegations against the defendant (the person being sued) and the legal basis for the lawsuit.
  2. Court Proceedings: After the lawsuit is filed, the court process includes a series of legal steps, such as serving the defendant with the complaint, discovery (exchange of evidence), pre-trial motions, and, potentially, a trial.
  3. Potential Outcomes: The case can end in various ways: a settlement before the trial, a court judgment after a trial, or even an appeal if one party is dissatisfied with the decision.

Common reasons for suing include breach of contract, personal injury, property disputes, and other situations where the plaintiff believes their rights have been violated and seeks a legal remedy.

What is Opening a Claim?

Opening a claim, on the other hand, usually refers to the process of notifying an insurance company or another responsible entity that you have a loss or injury covered by a policy or agreement. The steps involved in opening a claim are generally less formal and adversarial compared to suing:

  1. Notification: The process begins by informing the relevant party (often an insurance company) about your loss or injury. This is done by filing a claim form or a notice of claim.
  2. Documentation: You will need to provide documentation to support your claim, including medical records, accident reports, receipts, and other relevant information.
  3. Negotiation: Once the claim is submitted, the insurance company or responsible party will review the details. This stage often involves negotiations to reach a settlement compensating for the loss or injury.

Common types of claims include insurance claims for accidents, worker’s compensation claims, and claims for property damage or theft.

sue blog inside photos in category Suing

Suing vs. Opening a Claim

Understanding the differences between suing and opening a claim is crucial. Here are the primary distinctions:

Formality and Legal Proceedings

  • Suing: Involves formal court proceedings, including filing a lawsuit, engaging in discovery, and possibly going to trial. It’s a legal process that follows strict procedural rules and timelines.
  • Opening a Claim: Generally a negotiation process with less formality. It involves dealing directly with an insurance company or other entity, often resolving matters outside of court.

Role of Lawyers

  • Suing: Typically requires a lawyer to navigate the complexities of court procedures, legal arguments, and trial advocacy. Lawyers play a critical role in preparing and presenting the case.
  • Opening a Claim: Lawyers focus on negotiation and settlement. They help gather and present evidence, negotiate with the insurance company and ensure that their client’s rights are protected without the need for litigation.

Time and Cost

  • Suing: Can be time-consuming and expensive, involving court fees, attorney fees, and other costs associated with litigation. The process can take months or even years to reach a resolution. However, it is sometimes necessary to resolve a legal dispute.
  • Opening a Claim: Typically resolved faster and with lower costs. Negotiations and settlements can often be reached within a few weeks or months, saving time and money for all parties involved. Of course, resolution is only possible in this case if both sides can come to an agreement, which means some claims will have to move into a lawsuit to be resolved.

Why You Shouldn’t Hesitate to Get a Lawyer

Many people are reluctant to hire a lawyer due to several misconceptions and fears. Let’s address and debunk these common misconceptions:

Fear of Being Perceived as “Sue-Happy”: There is a societal stigma attached to being litigious. However, hiring a lawyer does not mean you are eager to sue. In fact, most of what lawyers do involves negotiation and settlement outside of court. They work to resolve disputes amicably and efficiently, often preventing the need for litigation altogether. A lawyer can help you avoid the courtroom by securing a fair settlement early on.

Misunderstanding the Role of Lawyers: Some believe that lawyers are only necessary for lawsuits. This is not true. Lawyers are invaluable in negotiating settlements, handling claims, and drafting demand letters that work, helping to avoid further legal proceedings. They can guide you through complex legal processes, ensuring all paperwork is correctly filed and deadlines are met. Their expertise in negotiation can help you achieve better outcomes without the stress and expense of going to court.

Concerns About Cost: The potential cost of legal services can be a deterrent. Many people assume that hiring a lawyer will always be prohibitively expensive. However, lawyers often offer various billing arrangements, including contingency fees, which you only pay if you win your case. Additionally, the cost of not having a lawyer can be much higher if you end up with an unfavorable settlement or miss out on the compensation you are entitled to. Paying for an attorney is well worth it when you consider how quickly medical bills can add up.

Even if you have no intention of suing, hiring a lawyer can be beneficial:

  • Ensuring Your Rights and Interests Are Protected: A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and ensure they are upheld throughout the claims process.
  • Access to Expert Advice and Experience: Lawyers bring valuable expertise, which can significantly increase the chances of a favorable outcome.
  • Increased Likelihood of a Favorable Outcome: Lawyers can often secure better settlements through negotiation than you might achieve alone, avoiding litigation altogether.

When Does Filing a Claim End Up in a Lawsuit?

Sometimes, claims cannot be resolved on their own, and the legal dispute can only be resolved through a lawsuit. For example, if an insurance company denies a claim or offers an insufficient settlement, the policyholder may file a lawsuit to seek the full amount. In employment disputes, a claim of workplace discrimination or harassment may lead to a lawsuit if the employer fails to address the issue adequately. Personal injury claims, such as those arising from car accidents or slip-and-fall incidents, can also escalate to lawsuits if the parties cannot agree on fair compensation. In these scenarios, it’s vital to have an experienced lawyer who understands when to keep negotiating and when to file a lawsuit.

How Kane Helps with Legal Disputes

Understanding the difference between suing and opening a claim is essential for anyone hesitant to seek legal advice. Don’t let the fear of being perceived as “sue-happy” or concerns about cost prevent you from getting the legal help you need. Consulting a lawyer ensures you are fully informed and protected, regardless of your intentions to sue.

If you find yourself in a situation where you might need to open a claim or negotiate a settlement, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation