Have you wondered what the definition of a claim means in legal terms? Here are the answers to all your questions as to what a claim is and how it’s different from litigation, the statute of limitation period to file a claim, the process to file one, and more.

What Is The Legal Definition Of Claim?

In legal terms, a claim is a legal declaration or demand someone makes seeking compensation or alleging owed payment for loss caused to them. A claim is usually based on asserting loss from a contract or negligent tort. A person(s) or entity(s) can make a legal demand against another party, which can be a person(s) or entity(s), for the claimed wrongdoing.

What Are The Types Of Claims?

There are several types of claims a person can make when filing a lawsuit. Here are some of the common types:

  1. Contract Claims: Claims that arise from a breach of contract. This type of claim may involve the failure to perform a contractual obligation or the improper performance of a contractual obligation.
  2. Tort Claims: These Claims arising from civil wrongs do not include contractual claims such as breach of contract. Tort claims may include allegations of negligence, intentional torts, product liability, or other types of injury.
  3. Constitutional Claims: Claims that allege a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights, such as violating one’s freedom of speech or a lack of equality under the law.
  4. Statutory Claims: Claims asserting a passed legislative statute violation or other law enacted by a government body.
  5. Property Claims: Claims that involve disputes over the ownership or use of real estate (land or buildings) or personal property.
  6. Equitable Claims: Claims that involve the application of equitable remedies, including injunctions, specific performance, or rescission.
  7. Declaratory Judgment Claims: Claims that seek a declaration from the court to define the parties’ rights and legal obligations to one another in regard to their legal relationship.

Claim legal glossary term

What Makes A Claim Valid?

In order to be a valid claim, it must have merit, be based on provable facts, and be supported by the law. The assertations must be factual, complete, and have evidence or other forms of proof. When a claim is invalid due to lacking merit, it is called an unreasonable claim.

What Is The Process To File A Claim?

Filing a legal claim varies based on the type of claim and the jurisdiction. Here are some general steps involved in filing a claim:

Determine the Type of Claim: Depending on the type of claim, the process for filing a claim may vary. There are many types of claims, including contracts, torts, and claims under various laws.

  1. Gather Evidence: Depending on the facts of the case, it may be necessary to collect evidence to support the claim. Evidence may include documents, photographs, emails, or witness testimony.
  2. Prepare the Claim: Depending on the type of claim and the jurisdiction, a formal document may be necessary to set out the claim. This document is usually known as a statement of claim.
  3. File and Serve the Claim: The claim must be filed with a court against the other party. This also involves providing a copy of the filed claim to the other party.
  4. Respond to the Claim: The other party, the party that gets served, must respond to the claim by filing an appropriate statement in response. This will typically act as a defense.
  5. Negotiate a Settlement: The parties may attempt to negotiate a settlement of the claim to avoid going to trial.
  6. Initiate Court Proceedings: If the parties cannot resolve the dispute out of court via a settlement, the next step typically involves having the court proceedings.

Can Closed Claims Be Reopened?

Yes, it is possible to have claims reopened, depending on the circumstances and the applicable laws. However, it is exceptionally rare for a case to be reopened after a settlement agreement is signed.

Generally speaking, the typical reason a claim could be reopened is if the settlement agreement is invalidated, which makes the terms null and void. It takes significant situations to invalidate a settlement contract, such as the claimant being under duress when signing or acts of fraud. Ultimately, it should not be expected that a claim be reopened based on a less-than-satisfactory case outcome.

What Is The Limitation Period To File For A Claim?

The limitation period to file a claim varies depending on the type of claim. Generally, limitation periods range from one to six years. It is important to consult a lawyer to determine the applicable limitation period for your particular claim.

What Is The Difference Between Litigation & Claim?

Litigation and a claim are different. Litigation is the process by which a legal dispute is potentially brought before a court for resolution. The process involves:

  1. The filing of a lawsuit
  2. The exchange of legal pleadings and motions
  3. The taking of depositions
  4. The presentation of evidence

Conversely, a claim is a demand for compensation or a remedy made by a party in a legal dispute. A claim is often part of a more significant legal action, such as a lawsuit or arbitration. A claim can also be made outside of legal action, such as reporting an incident with an insurance company, which often leads to settlement negotiations.

How Do Personal Injury Claims Work?

A Personal injury claim work like most civil suits, except the claim is not filed until after an injured victim finishes medical treatment and sends the demand letter to the liable party.

The personal injury claim itself begins with the injured person filing a complaint with the court and naming the responsible party as the defendant. The complaint outlines the facts and circumstances of the case and the damages and losses the injured person has suffered. The defendant then has to respond to the filed complaint.

One response can be to request the court’s permission to file a counterclaim against the injured person. Insurance companies will do this if they believe the injured person who filed the claim is, in fact, responsible for the accident. Even after the suit is filed, most personal injury claims resolve before they enter a courtroom for the trial.

At the trial, each side can present its case, and a judge or a jury will decide who was at fault and what compensation and damages should be awarded to the injured person.


Written by Aaron R. Winston
Last Updated: April 19, 2023 9:41am CDT