A claim is opened with the defendant's insurance company when the defendant is known and insured. In some cases, an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist claim may also be opened with the plaintiff's (victim's) insurance company.
Once a claim is opened, a request is usually made for the policy limits of the applicable insurance policy to know how much or how little money is available.
You will begin medical treatment for your injuries. This usually continues until you reach your maximum medical recovery - a point when you are as good as you are going to be able to get medically, or the funds available in the policy are reached. It is everyone's hope that the policy is adequate to meet the costs required by your treatment.
While you are treating, your legal team will be working on collecting information that shows the other party is liable (police reports, photos, videos, etc.) and items related to your damages - medical bills, loss of work documentation, potentially property damage information when assisting with that aspect of the case, and similar.
At the conclusion of your treatment, your attorney will make a demand of the insurance company.
There may be some back and forth at this point between your lawyer and the insurer. Once a reasonable settlement offer has been arrived at, the attorney will present the amount to the client to accept.
If a settlement amount cannot be reached, and it makes sense to do so, a lawsuit will be filed, and your attorney will switch gears - preparing your case for trial.
The litigation process is complex and meticulous. Your attorney will build upon the foundation that was laid through the pre-litigation process. Through litigation attempts will be made by opposing counsel to poke holes in the argument that has been presented, and to devalue your case. Your attorney will work to prove that the demands made were fair and justified.
When a lawsuit is filed it is not a foregone conclusion that your case will go to trial. In most cases, the case will still settle before trial would begin.