If you suffered injuries or find yourself with damages after a car accident, you may be wondering if you should sue the at-fault driver. The answer to whether you should sue or simply file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company depends on multiple factors.
Whether the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate, does not award you the compensation you’re entitled to, or if the negligent driver doesn’t have adequate insurance, you may want to consider pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
In no-fault states, the process begins with a claim against your PIP policy. However, if your losses exceed your policy limits, you can then file an at-fault claim against a negligent party’s liability insurance. Sometimes, you can resolve the matter directly with an insurance company. However, if the insurance companies are uncooperative, you might file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a skilled car accident lawyer.
Successful personal injury lawsuits require that you prove you suffered economic or non-economic losses due to another party’s negligence. Our skilled auto accident attorneys can help you determine who was at fault in your accident and advise you on what damages you may deserve and whether you should pursue a personal injury lawsuit. If you find yourself with injuries or property damage after a car crash, read on to discover a brief overview of your options.
What are some reasons to sue another driver?
Even seemingly minor accidents can produce more substantial injuries and damages than one might think. Seeking medical attention after a car accident is essential, even if you think you feel fine. Your injuries might not present themselves for days or even weeks after the crash. Because of this, minor accidents can become costly down the road, which is why it is in your best interest to get a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
In the case that your physician determines you suffered injuries in your accident and your losses exceed a no-fault policy that you have, you might benefit from filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for medical expenses.
Even if someone hits your car and you suffer minimal property damage, you might benefit from taking legal action when you take your potential medical bills, the cost of property damage, and your own stress into consideration. When the negligent party or their insurance company fails to compensate you fairly after your lawyer negotiates and presents evidence to support your claim, you may consider a lawsuit.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney will tell you what to expect from a settlement and help you receive fair compensation if the at-fault party’s insurance company’s initial offer does not meet your expectations.
Some car accident injuries have delayed symptoms
Car accident injuries can range from minor scrapes to life-threatening emergencies. Seeking medical attention in the aftermath of a car accident is essential. Even if you feel like your injuries don’t warrant medical attention, an assessment by a medical professional will not only support your claims but also help you determine if you require treatment.
Some injuries resulting from motor vehicle collisions have delayed symptoms that you may not feel for days, weeks, or even a year after the accident.
Some examples of car accident injuries with the potential for delayed symptoms include:
- Internal Bleeding
If you’ve sustained an injury due to the actions of a negligent driver, you have the right to seek compensation, even if your injuries had delayed symptoms. Seeking counsel as soon as possible after a car accident is an excellent way to explore your rights and the type of compensation that may be available in your case.
How do car accident insurance claims and lawsuits work?
The victim of an auto accident will typically file an insurance claim after the collision to recover compensation for damages. If you did not sustain injuries in a car accident, you would be unable to recover compensation through the insurance company for damages like medical care costs, lost wages, and emotional suffering. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t hold the at-fault party liable for damages to your vehicle or any other related expenses, like lost wages from missed work.
To hold a negligent driver liable for your injuries, vehicle repair or replacement costs, and other losses, you will need to prove fault.
Doing this will require you to show:
- That the driver had a legal obligation to follow certain rules
- Failed to uphold this obligation (such as by violating traffic laws) and, therefore, caused the accident
- The accident resulted in your injuries
- The economic and non-economic damages you faced
To ensure that the insurance company doesn’t undervalue your claim, you should speak with one of our auto accident attorneys, who can help you secure and preserve crucial evidence that supports your claim.
Too often, insurance companies refuse to make adequate settlement offers to car accident victims. Even when they have plenty of evidence of liability and damages, adjusters might still offer far less than you deserve.
You do not have to accept a low settlement offer or get nothing at all, as the law provides the right to file a lawsuit. Litigation is time-consuming for insurance companies, so filing a lawsuit can often encourage adjusters to increase their offers. There is a greater risk that an insurance company will lose control of the case if it goes to trial, so companies might try to maintain control by offering what you deserve.
Having a lawyer ready to file a lawsuit can provide leverage in an insurance claim for this reason. If you have the right legal representation from the start of the insurance claim process, it might result in a fair offer, eliminating the need for a lawsuit. This is not always the case, however, and some stubborn and greedy insurers may force you to file a lawsuit to collect the compensation you deserve.
Suing the negligent driver
A negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver is the next step if you’ve already made an insurance claim but haven’t received a fair offer of compensation. If you sustained injuries due to another party’s negligent actions, you have a legal right to sue them for damages.
Most states do not allow you to sue an insurance company directly unless they acted in bad faith or failed to honor a claim that the law requires them to pay. If you file a claim with the other party’s insurance company and your lawyer negotiated with them extensively, but they still refuse to cover your expenses, pursuing a lawsuit against the other driver may be your best option.
Even though you file a lawsuit against the driver, their insurance company will still cover any compensation you receive, whether in a pretrial settlement or a jury award.
When the other driver doesn’t have insurance coverage, you can sue them personally. However, drivers who don’t carry insurance coverage often do not have enough assets or personal funds to pay for your injuries and damages. In this case, you may have to turn to your own insurance coverage for help.
If you carry uninsured motorist coverage, an option is to file a claim with your own policy to help cover the cost of your losses. Sometimes, even though you pay premiums for your UM coverage, the insurance company will refuse to pay a claim. In this case, discuss the possibility of a lawsuit against your insurer with your car accident attorney.
Suffering injuries in a car accident is bad enough – don’t deal with an insurance company giving you the runaround. Insurance companies tend to make an already unpleasant situation worse, which is why we’re here to help. Scheduling a consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers is the first step in recovering fair compensation for your losses. We can help whether it involves insurance negotiations or filing an injury lawsuit.
Questions to ask a car accident attorney
Will my case go to court if I file a personal injury claim?
In most cases, personal injury claims settle out of court. One of our lawyers can successfully negotiate with the insurance company during litigation, so you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve.
In some situations where there are irresolvable disputes, your case may require a formal trial proceeding. Our attorneys are ready in either situation to handle your car accident case. Having a lawyer on your side to help you navigate the complexities of legal procedure is an essential part of making sure your rights are protected.
Should I call the police if I was in a minor car accident?
Yes. In some states, you do not have to call the police if your accident did not result in injuries, property damage, or both. If you intend to pursue an auto accident lawsuit, however, calling the police and obtaining a police report can significantly benefit you. Calling the police after an accident is an excellent way to obtain an official and detailed report of the accident and can help your case. This is especially true if police cited or arrested the other driver.
What information should I collect to file an auto accident claim?
To have a successful auto accident claim, some examples of information you should collect include contact information from all witnesses, photographic or video evidence, and a written explanation of how the accident happened.
How long do car accident lawsuits take to settle?
Every case is unique, and many factors can influence how long it takes to settle your car accident case. The extent of your injuries, the at-fault driver’s insurer, and whether you’re able to return to your normal life after the accident are all examples of relevant factors that determine how quickly your case settles or gets scheduled for trial.
How is who was at fault for a car accident determined?
A detailed investigation of the accident is the best way to find out who was at fault. The investigation will look for evidence of carelessness, any traffic violations, or defects in the at-fault driver’s vehicle. While driver error is often the most common cause of motor vehicle crashes, other parties may also be held liable for the accident. The vehicle manufacturer, government agencies, property owners, or the employers of drivers are just some examples of the type of parties that can be held responsible for a crash.
How do auto accident claims settle through insurance companies?
Car accident claims settled through an insurance company typically involve negotiations with your attorney following an initial demand letter. Insurance companies are in the business of settling claims as cheaply as possible. An insurance adjuster is not on your side, and you may need to file a lawsuit if you fail to recover the full compensation to cover the cost of injuries or damages you sustain.
Why do I need a lawyer to sue for a car accident?
An attorney can significantly benefit you by negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance company. Insurance companies often offer accident victims low-ball settlements to avoid paying what the case is actually worth. A car accident attorney will gather evidence of the other driver’s negligence and represent you in court if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
Can I sue for negligence even if I wasn’t injured?
Even if you were uninjured, if another driver fails to uphold their duty of care and causes property damage, you have a right to sue for compensation.
For example, a distracted driver rear-ends your vehicle but does not cause injuries. Your lawyer can still advocate for their negligence. Additionally, even in cases where you don’t sustain any injuries, you may be left with damages like emotional trauma.
In some cases, where the damage is minimal, it may not be worth filing a lawsuit for a property damage claim. Discussing your case with an auto accident lawyer is the best way to learn your options for a property damage claim.