What’s the Difference Between Filing a Claim and Being Part of a Lawsuit?
Most people want nothing to do with a lawsuit. But when accidents happen, it’s a good idea to get the professionals involved from the start. That way, a visit to the courthouse can actually be avoided.
What’s the difference between filing an insurance claim and being part of a lawsuit? Want to avoid filing a lawsuit after an injury accident? Attorneys Kerstin Schuhmann and Cara Stigger answer these questions on WAVE 3 Listens Live, aired March 10, 2017 at 11 a.m. If you have questions after you or your loved one was injured in an accident, call (800) 937-8443.
JOHN RAMSEY: Welcome back to WAVE 3 Listens. When you hear the word “lawsuit” do you think negative thoughts? Is the connotation negative? Well let’s find out about the truth and the myths about lawsuits. We have the professionals from Kaufman & Stigger with us now, Kerstin Schuhmann is with us—Kerstin, welcome to the show.
KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: Thank you.
JOHN RAMSEY: Cara Stigger is back with us; Cara, welcome back.
CARA STIGGER: Thank you.
JOHN RAMSEY: Alright, when I think “lawsuit” I do think negative about you know “Oh, I don’t want to be in a lawsuit.” Why is that?
KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: Well, you hear bad things about lawsuits on TV all the time. But basically the justice system in Kentucky has been tracking lawsuits and since 2008, in Jefferson County and in Fayette County, they’re down. In Jefferson County they’re down about a third since 2008 and in Fayette County they’re down 50% since 2008. Basically, as we tell people when they call in, you’re not going to be involved in a lawsuit right away if you’re involved in an accident of any sort—a slip and fall, or a car accident—you would be making an insurance claim. Much like if your roof was damaged by hail, you would call up your insurance company and make an insurance claim. We’re not suing anyone right away; you’re making an insurance claim. And it’s more important to do that when you’re involved in an accident because you’re injured, you’re hurt, you want to make sure you take care of yourself.
JOHN RAMSEY: So why do people hesitate? Because really that’s what you pay insurance premiums for, right, Cara? I mean, sometimes you think “Oh, I don’t want to call my insurance company, I want to keep them out of this,” but isn’t that what you’re paying for?
CARA STIGGER: It’s exactly what you’re paying for, yes. And they have trained adjusters that are ready and, and that’s their job, is to evaluate and make a decision on whether they’re going to settle with you or offer you money or they’re going to say “No, we don’t think you’re injured,” or “You’re at fault,” or whatever the case may be, that’s the situations where you might have to get into a lawsuit.
JOHN RAMSEY: Alright. And Kerstin, how do I avoid a lawsuit? If you say “Okay, I’m going to avoid this lawsuit,” how do you do that?
KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: Well, the first thing—going back to when I was talking about like making a homeowner’s claim for impale damage—is, you wouldn’t fix your roof yourself; so the first thing is to get somebody who’s experienced in the area of dealing with those claims. And many times, an attorney’s office, if you get them involved early, we can look into investigating the claim as you’ve spoken with members of our firm before; getting pictures, getting someone out to the accident scene. We’ve had, also, cases where we’ve had videotapes that we’ve been able to gather from businesses that were near an accident. City buses sometimes have videotapes on board as well, and we’ve actually had some actual accidents captured on video–
JOHN RAMSEY: Wow.
KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: –which was quite interesting. And, if you slip in a business sometimes there are video cameras that capture that. And that evidence can be lost if it’s not captured right away, so many times it’s very important to get somebody involved right away who’s experienced in the area, who knows how to evaluate claims, who knows how to investigate claims.
JOHN RAMSEY: Kerstin, you said something at the beginning of the segment that really caught my ear. You said that the “lawsuits are down”. So this gives me hope. Are we becoming more efficient as a government, as far as legal matters are concerned? Cara, is that fair to say?
CARA STIGGER: Somewhat, yes. I think the system has changed through the years where, now there are things called “mediation” where you can mediate a case even without filing a lawsuit; and there’s lots more opportunities to work out matters without going to the court system today. You know, 15 years ago, we didn’t have those maneuvers to get us around the court system. So I think that’s part of why the court cases are down. But also I think people, attorneys—us, for example—I think we’re experienced, and we’re better able to resolve cases and keep them out of the court system than maybe people who aren’t experienced with auto accidents.
JOHN RAMSEY: Alright. Kerstin, thank you very much; Cara, thank you very much. If you find yourself in a lawsuit, you need the professional help of Kaufman & Stigger. Give them a call. I promise you, as you can tell, compassionate but yet they can cut to the chase. They know exactly what they’re doing. Appreciate the legal advice; we’ll be right back on WAVE 3 Listens.