It is not always clear what your rights are after a car accident. How do you know if you can seek compensation or file a lawsuit against another party or insurance company?
While every accident and case is unique, there are some factors to look at and consider when determining whether you can sue for a car accident.
- When Is Suing for a Car Accident Appropriate?
- Is a Lawsuit Your Only Option If You Suffer an Injury in an Accident?
- When is Suing After a Car Accident Possibly Necessary?
- What Damages Can You Recover in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
- Who Can Be Liable to You After a Car Accident?
- How Much Time Do You Have to Decide Whether You Want to Sue After a Car Accident?
- When Do You Need to Contact a Lawyer If You Are in a Car Accident?
- How Can a Lawyer Help You With Suing After a Car Accident?
When Is Suing for a Car Accident Appropriate?
The filing of a lawsuit is not appropriate in every case. Seeking monetary compensation for your losses through a suit or other option may only apply in certain circumstances.
One of the main distinguishing factors to consider after a car accident is the fault of the accident. The reality is that you may not know who exactly is at fault for an accident, and in many instances, you should never assume that you know. In many cases, it is always best to consult with an attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case.
Car accident cases fall under the umbrella of personal injury law. Compensation is usually available to a victim that suffers injuries or other damages because of the negligence of another party.
Negligence in car accidents can be tricky and the answer to who is at fault may not always be clear. Insurance companies make their own determinations of negligence and fault but their determination is not always set in stone or the only possible outcome.
An insurer may not have all the evidence to decide a claim. The court in a car accident lawsuit can determine fault if the parties dispute responsibility.
Is a Lawsuit Your Only Option If You Suffer an Injury in an Accident?
You may frequently hear about car accident lawsuits, but it may be a surprise to learn that most car accident cases do not ever make it to a trial in court. The reason is that most car accidents resolve negotiations between a victim’s attorney and the insurer or at-fault party.
A lawsuit is not always the best or only option for victims of a car accident. Most cases are successfully resolved through an insurance claim when the victim obtains the legal representation of a knowledgeable car accident lawyer.
The first step for a victim after a car accident is to pursue their losses through any applicable insurance coverage. In many instances, it is the insurer for the at-fault party that will be responsible for paying out any damages to you after an accident.
However, if an at-fault party has no insurance coverage available or has insufficient coverage for your losses, you may have to seek compensation through your insurer. Regardless of who’s insurance is liable for your damages, an attorney is always recommended.
Insurance companies and their representatives have the same goal regardless of their relationship with a party; to deny claims when possible, and pay out as little money as necessary to close a case.
When is Suing After a Car Accident Possibly Necessary?
While most cases do resolve during negotiations of an insurance claim settlement, there are some situations where this may not be possible. If you cannot settle through negotiations, then the next possible step is to file a lawsuit in court.
When you take this step, you will likely file a suit against the insurance company or other liable party. This process can take time. It will require trial preparations, a trial, and then a verdict where a jury or judge will determine whether you recover compensation, and if so, enter an award.
Some common scenarios in which a lawsuit can become necessary after a car accident include:
- When you are a victim of an accident with an uninsured motorist
- If there are multiple parties liable for your damages
- When there is a dispute as to fault for the accident
- If your damages exceed the amount of coverage under an insurance policy
- When negotiations to reach a reasonable settlement with an insurer is not possible
What Damages Can You Recover in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Through an insurance claim or lawsuit, there are certain damages you can seek compensation for when you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident. Personal injury law allows for victims of accidents that lead to injuries due to the negligence of another party to recover for their losses.
These losses they endure can be due to the accident, their injuries, and impacts on their lives from the accident. As a victim of a motor vehicle accident that is not your fault, you have the right to fight for compensation for the damages such an accident will have on your life.
A car accident is not just a matter of inconvenience. For people that suffer injuries at the hands of other motorists, their lives can change forever in a matter of an instant. Your ability to work, fulfill your everyday responsibilities, and simply enjoy your life is at risk when you are a victim of a car accident.
Car accident damages typically will fall into one of two categories; economic or non-economic damages.
Economic damages are straight money damages. The calculation of losses that affect you financially is on a basis of monetary value. These losses are mostly objective with clear standards to figure out how much damage you sustain from a particular loss after an accident.
Non-economic damages are not as clear-cut to figure out. The courts and insurers will often compensate you for damages that are not just related to money but the inconveniences on your life. The money that correlates to these non-monetary losses is often subjective, and the loss is unique to each victim.
Through various methods and the gathering of evidence, your attorney must help you show how much of an impact the accident has on the various types of non-economic damages you may be eligible to recover.
Damages in a car accident lawsuit can include:
- Medical costs
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering including emotional distress
- Property damage
- In cases of wrongful death, costs for funeral and burial expenses
Who Can Be Liable to You After a Car Accident?
Who is at fault for your injuries and your losses will help you to understand who is also liable to you for these damages under the law. Liability in car accidents can be a source of frustration depending on the facts of a case, the parties, and the insurers. While in some cases a fault determination is rather quickly decided, in other cases, it can be a back-and-forth issue that must resolve before you can move on to the step of seeking compensation.
In most cases, the at-fault driver is liable to the victim of an accident. However, factors such as what the driver was doing at the time of the crash, the vehicle they were driving, and even their choice of insurance policy will influence who you may be able to recover money from for your losses after an accident.
In most car accident cases, an insurance company will be liable for the damages of the victims. In many situations, it is the insurance company of the at-fault driver who will pay out these damages.
However, other policies may apply to the accident or other parties may share responsibility for your losses in addition to the at-fault driver.
Parties that can be liable when suing for a car accident include:
- A car owner
- The at-fault driver
- An employer of the driver responsible
- A ride-share service
- Insurance companies
- Vehicle manufacturers
How Much Time Do You Have to Decide Whether You Want to Sue After a Car Accident?
The time you have to file a lawsuit after a motor vehicle accident is not indefinite. While there is not always an immediate pressure to file a legal action in court, it is a pressing matter to discuss your case with a lawyer. An attorney can help you to understand what statute of limitations applies in your case and identify the timeframe in which you are working.
A statute of limitations is a law that states the specific deadline to file a lawsuit. Each state sets statutes of limitations. One state may set a one-year deadline or three years in another.
Personal injury cases are often subject to statutes of limitations, including car accident cases. In most instances, the deadline to initiate a lawsuit in court is short.
When a victim of an accident proceeds to file a lawsuit outside of the statute of limitations, they can't seek the compensation they may otherwise recover. If you wait too long to file you can't collect any money for your losses even if the fault and liability of the other party are clear.
When Do You Need to Contact a Lawyer If You Are in a Car Accident?
After a motor vehicle accident, you will have a lot on your plate. If you suffer injuries, you may need to go to a hospital or require hospitalization if your injuries are severe. Your focus will not be on insurance providers, gathering information, or dealing with phone calls, but rather doing what you can to recover and heal.
The best thing you can do for yourself, and your case, is to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Once you take the step of hiring an attorney, you can find relief in knowing that they will move forward in your case to represent you and fight for the compensation you need and deserve after a negligent car accident.
How Can a Lawyer Help You With Suing After a Car Accident?
A lawyer’s role after a car accident is to gather all of the evidence available, evaluate and assess the facts of your case, including the injuries you sustain, and the potential impacts those injuries will have on your life currently and in the future. From using their resources to retrieve records and evidence to calculating your damages, an attorney can be invaluable to your case and make a stark difference in the outcome of your case.
Without an attorney, you risk long delays, frustration, denials of claims, and unreasonably low settlement offers. Without the right guidance and advice on your rights under the law, you won't know what amount of money you may recover and when a successful resolution is possible.
Insurance companies know just how vulnerable an accident victim is after an accident and they will use that to give them an advantage in handling your claim. Unrepresented victims going up against insurers are likely to lose out on significant amounts of compensation; you need a lawyer that knows how to deal with these companies and represent your interests throughout your case.
With a qualified car accident attorney at your side, you have a much higher likelihood of getting the results you need after a motor vehicle accident.