I frequently see confusion among clients and potential client about whether they have filed a "claim" or a "lawsuit" in the past.  Many people don't know the difference between making a claim and filing a lawsuit.  Here are descriptions of both terms:

A claim is made when you contact an insurance company and assert a right to compensation under an insurance policy. A claim is started with a letter or an oral statement to the insurance company describing why you believe you are entitled to compensation.  If a claim is made, and you settle the claim, you receive compensation, and the matter is over.  If you can't reach a settlement, then you either drop the matter and get nothing or you file a lawsuit in a court.  

A lawsuit is a formal complaint made in a court alleging that somone else caused you harm in such a way that the law entitles you to compensation.  If that person who caused you harm (the defendant) has insurance, then that person's insurance company will defendant the claim and pay the claim under the terms of the insurance policy.  A lawsuit is started with a document called a complaint.  The person who brings the case is the plaintiff.  The person who the case is brought against is the defendant.

If your claim cannot be settled, then you have to file a lawsuit.  So, a lawsuit normally occurs after a claim cannot be resolved absent a lawsuit.

If you or anyone you know has a claim and needs a lawyer then we are hear to help.  Call us at The Bartinik Law Firm, PC., 100 Fort Hill Road, Groton, CT.  860-445-8521 or toll free at 888-717-4211.


Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut