Suing After a Car Accident: Lawsuit Process Guide

Let’s say you were involved in a car accident. Not only did your car sustain significant damages, but you also were hurt and sustained injuries. As a result, you have car repair costs, medical expenses, and loss of wages due to time off work. In this scenario, you may consider suing after a car accident with heavy damages. But who should you sue? Perhaps you’ve asked yourself, “can I sue the at-fault driver?” Or should you be suing the other driver’s insurance company?  How much can someone sue for a car accident? The answer to all these questions will depend on a number of factors, including which state you’re in, who’s at fault, and the severity of the accident.

Determine Liability

The first step to suing after a car accident is to determine liability. Liability generally dictates who is at fault or negligent, and therefore how much damage can be recovered. How do the juries determine liability? A number of factors will help juries assess who and how much negligence to assign. For instance, they’ll consider things like the responding police officer’s testimony or wreckage to piece together what happened and what caused the accident. Depending on the state you are in, three types of negligence exist:

  • Contributory negligence: If you were found to be even one percent negligent in the accident, you are unable to sue for damages.
  • Comparative negligence: The courts will assign a percentage of blame to each driver according to their negligence. The amount you can recover in damages is limited to how much fault was assigned to you by the courts.
  • Modified comparative negligence: You are only allowed to recover damages if you are under 50 percent (51 percent for some states) at blame.

File an Insurance Claim

Typically, before considering a car accident lawsuit, you’ll want to see how much insurance will cover for your damages. Who to file your claim with depends on whether your state is part of the no-fault or the at-fault system. If you are in a no-fault state, both drivers must recover damages through their own insurance companies. This type of system restricts drivers from suing each other. You can sue someone in a car accident only after damages exceed a certain threshold. This threshold varies by state. The majority of the states operate under an at-fault system. In this system, you can file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver. The at-fault system applies the principles of tort liability after a car accident. Suing the at-fault driver is permitted even if you sustain $1 of damages.

Consider Suing the At-Fault Driver

When can you sue someone for a car accident? You may want to consider suing the at-fault driver when either:

  • Their insurance company offers a lowball value
  • The settlement offer does not cover your expenses

As mentioned, in a no-fault state, you can consider suing if the damages were severe enough. In general, you are not allowed to sue the insurance company directly. This means you must initiate the lawsuit against the driver. Remember, this personal injury lawsuit is independent of the initial compensation offered by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.  

What if the Driver is Uninsured

What happens if the at-fault driver is uninsured? Can they get sued for a car accident they caused? There are two possible scenarios if the driver does not have proper car insurance:

  • Sue the driver directly: You can pursue legal action directly against the driver. However, given they don’t have proper insurance, it’s also highly probable they won’t have the assets to come up with the compensation you’re seeking. Recovering for damages can, therefore, be slim with this option.
  • Make a claim with your own insurance: You may need to make a claim against your own insurance company through the uninsured motorist coverage policy. Some states mandate this type of coverage, while some are optional, so ensure you check your policy to see if you can make this type of claim.   

Trust a Personal Injury Attorney’s Expertise

Suing after a car accident is no small task. Documenting, gathering evidence, and filling out legal paperwork can be confusing and complex. Furthermore, determining liability and understanding all the applicable state laws makes it that much harder to keep up with the case. Having a car accident attorney will help alleviate the pressures of the lawsuit, allowing you to focus on recovering. A qualified attorney will assess the evidence and provide you with a professional opinion on whether you should settle or pursue a lawsuit. With years of experience, they will be able to advise whether the initial settlement offer from the insurance company is fair or if it’s a lowball offer. A qualified personal injury attorney will also ensure you don’t make any mistakes that could cost you. Statute of limitations for car accident injuries varies by state. An attorney will ensure you don’t miss important deadlines, giving you the best opportunity to recover the maximum compensation.

Valiente Mott

If you are considering legal action against another driver, you’ll want a Las Vegas personal injury attorney on your side. Valiente Mott’s team of legal experts work hard to help victims navigate complex legal procedures. Contact us today for your free consultation! 

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