If another driver hits you, suing the at-fault motorist to recover compensation for the losses and damages you sustained in the accident might not immediately cross your mind.
However, when these collisions result in extensive medical expenses due to debilitating injuries and an insurance company is not willing to pay out the amount you deserve, pursuing a lawsuit may be the only way to recover the compensation you need.
This post dives into the basics you need to know about pursuing compensation after a car accident. Don’t get stuck paying hefty bills by yourself. If you need to bring a lawsuit after a car accident, there are specific actions you need to take—and an attorney can be an immense help in fighting for the compensation you deserve.
See If The Insurance Company Will Work With You First
Before you decide to pursue legal action after the car accident, you may want to try working out a deal with the car insurance company first.
Insurance companies handle tons of new car insurance claims every day, and they’ll want to settle your claim as soon as possible—but that doesn’t mean they’ll agree to meet your demands. It is best to leave discussions and negotiations with the insurance company to an experienced car accident lawyer.
If you don’t have to bring a lawsuit, you might wonder why you need a lawyer.
Unfortunately, insurance companies will offer you an amount that does not cover all your expenses, or try to stall the process so that you accept an offer for less than you deserve.
When you work with an attorney, they can handle this process for you and use their resources to pursue the compensation you need. Additionally, if the other side won’t settle, your lawyer can take your case to court and fight for maximum damages.
Why You May Want To Sue If Another Motorist Hits Your Vehicle
Although car crashes frequently happen in the United States, they don’t all have the same outcome. For instance, some crashes result in only minor property damages, while others cause substantial injuries and significant motor vehicle damage. In the first situation, a simple claim with your own insurance or even the at-fault party’s insurance provider might do. In the case of the latter, the process might be more difficult. A victim may decide to pursue legal action against the at-fault driver under the following circumstances.
Bills Add Up
Even if the consequences of a car accident appear to be relatively minor at first, you may find in the weeks following that you are left with costly repairs and extensive medical bills that could cause long-lasting financial issues. In these instances, it may be necessary to take legal action against the at-fault motorist—particularly if their insurer refuses to pay out an amount sufficient to cover your bills!
Negotiations Do Not Pan Out
If you have gone through several rounds of negotiating with the insurance company or the negligent party and they refuse to agree to pay the fair compensation you need to cover your expenses, then your car accident lawyer may advise you to move to the next step and file a lawsuit. With a lawsuit, you can show the other side you are not willing to accept less than you deserve and that you are going to fight for it.
Keep in mind that even after filing a lawsuit, you can settle with the at-fault party and their insurer. Filing a lawsuit may apply the necessary pressure to get them to come to a fair settlement figure.
What to Do After Someone Hits Your Car
Following a car accident—even a minor fender bender—the scene can be chaotic and stressful for everyone involved. It’s hard to concentrate or plan your next steps.
However, in order to protect your health and legal rights, you should take certain actions after a crash. These steps can help you later on down the road if you decide to sue the at-fault driver to recover damages:
Reach Out To The Authorities Immediately
If you are involved in a car crash, contact 911 immediately. This is the quickest way to get the car crash on record and to notify emergency medical services that you or someone at the scene needs immediate medical help.
Once the authorities arrive, they can investigate the car crash and write down their findings in a police report. If you decide to pursue a claim or lawsuit, this report can provide you with valuable evidence regarding fault and damages.
Get Driver Contact Details
Exchange personal information with all those involved in the car accident, including names, contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers. However, as you talk to these individuals, make sure to be careful about what you say. For instance, you should avoid making definitive statements regarding fault for the collision, taking the blame for anything that happened, or apologizing for anything that occurred. These comments can end up coming back to bite you in the future, impacting your case and the amount of money you can receive. Instead, limit your conversation to obtaining the neutral identification details you need to follow up with an insurance claim, and don’t argue about anything else.
Gather Evidence From The Accident Scene
If it is safe and you are capable of doing so, take pictures and videos of the accident scene. These should include photos or videos of your visible injuries, the damage to your car, the placement of the vehicles on the road, the weather conditions at the time of the crash, skid marks on the street, traffic signs near the area, and any other evidence that can help show what happened and who was at fault for the accident.
Go To A Doctor, Even If Your Injuries Seem Minor
Although a car accident may result in seemingly minor injuries, you should still see your doctor as soon as possible following the collision. It is not unusual for serious injuries such as brain or head trauma to take some time for symptoms to manifest, but the longer you wait to get examined, the more deadly the injury can become.
Additionally, getting prompt medical treatment after the accident can be valuable to your legal case. For instance, insurance companies will try to do anything possible to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve. By not getting medical treatment quickly enough after your crash, they may argue that your injuries are not that serious or a result of a subsequent event.
When you get checked out by your doctor after your car collision, they can record information regarding your injuries in a medical report, providing you with evidence of a direct connection between the harm you sustained and the car accident and the extent of your damages.
Keep Records And Reports
After the car accident, make sure to retain copies of all bills related to your car crash, including medical bills, car damage, and other expenses you would not have incurred but for the accident. In addition, you will also want to document any time that you had to miss work because of your injuries.
Keeping track of these records and reports can help your attorney pursue the full compensation you deserve for your losses and injuries.
If there were people at the accident scene who saw what happened but were not directly involved in the accident, get their names and numbers. Witness statements provide you with helpful information regarding the incident and help back up your claim.
Establishing Fault After A Car Accident
How do you establish fault? By collecting all the records, reports, and other evidence related to the accident and your injuries.
If you are unable to collect such evidence after your collision because of your injuries, you should not worry, particularly if you follow up by contacting an experienced car accident lawyer. Your lawyer can use their knowledge and resources to handle the investigation process for you and work on obtaining the evidence required to show that the other driver is liable for your losses and harm.
Do You Still Have Time To Sue?
One of the most critical things to remember is that you have a limited amount of time to sue someone for compensation for your car accident injuries. The time limit depends on the statute of limitations in your state.
The statute of limitations restricts the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit following an alleged offense. If you do not file suit within this deadline, you can’t seek compensation for your injuries. That is why, after your accident, you need to reach out to a skilled car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A car accident attorney can promptly determine the exact amount of time you have to file a lawsuit and ensure your legal documents are prepared correctly before time runs out!
Compensation You May Recover In A Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuit
If your car accident resulted from another person’s wrongful, negligent, or reckless actions, you may be entitled to compensation, referred to as damages. If you win the lawsuit, typical compensation includes:
These damages refer to verifiable losses that result from an accident. Here are some examples:
- Medical bills, including past, current, and future medical expenses related to doctor bills, hospital stay, emergency services, surgeries, prescription medications, medical assistive devices, and other costs associated with your care
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Rehabilitative services, such as physical and occupational therapy
- In-home nursing care
- Personal property damages
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-Economic Damages: These damages refer to the more subjective, less readily quantifiable losses from an accident, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
Additionally, in some instances, the victim may also collect punitive damages. Unlike the aforementioned damages, which compensate the victim for their losses, punitive damages punish the defendant for their egregious actions and deter others from committing similar acts.
Punitive damages are rare. For a court to award punitive damages, the plaintiff generally needs to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions involved severe misconduct such as malice, gross negligence, or wanton disregard for the health and safety of others.
File A Lawsuit With The Help Of An Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer
To obtain compensation following a motor vehicle accident, you need to produce relevant and detailed evidence and sound legal arguments proving your claim. However, following a car crash, this is often the last thing you feel equipped to handle. When you hire a skilled car accident attorney to take on these claims, you do not have to endure the legal fight on your own. Rather, you can focus on what matters most—your recovery—while the lawyers go after the financial damages you deserve.
Once retained, your lawyer can:
- Go over your accident in detail, determine if you have a viable legal claim and fill you in on which legal options you may pursue
- Answer all the concerns and questions you have regarding your accident and the legal process involved with the case
- Investigate the car crash and secure the evidence needed to show what happened and who was at fault
- Handle all the negotiations with the other side—including the insurance company—and fight for a just settlement
- Bring in the experts like accident reconstructionists, doctors, and engineers to help prove liability and back up your claim
- Take your case to trial if the other side is unwilling to agree to a fair settlement, and fight for maximum compensation
If you suffered harm because another individual hit your car, do not wait any longer to get the legal help you need. Reach out to an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney today.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.