Should You Sue After a Car Accident? A Legal Guide
Every year, there are 6 million car accidents in the US and 3 million accident-related injuries. These injuries can range from minor ones, such as cuts and scrapes, to serious, permanent disabilities. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident that was not your fault, you should not have to pay for your medical care and you should be compensated for any lost wages as a result of missed work.
Getting this compensation can be difficult, however, and you might wonder, “Can you sue someone after a car accident?” The answer to that question is complex, though, so this article is here to help. Read on to learn more about potentially filing a car accident lawsuit.
Can You Sue After a Car Accident?
The short answer to this question is yes, you can sue someone after a car accident. However, the good news is that you may not have to.
If you are injured in a car accident, you should start with the insurance company first. If you know who was at fault for your accident, then you should contact their insurance company to try to settle your claim. They will want to settle quickly, though, and often will offer you a settlement for much less than what you deserve based on your expenses.
Before you go the lawsuit route, try to work things out with the insurance company. It will save you a lot of time and stress, and if they offer you a fair settlement, then you don’t have to resort to a lawsuit.
It is wise to consult an attorney before you approach the insurance company though, as there is always the chance that you underestimate the cost of your medical expenses and lost wages (or loss of future wages).
What is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
An experienced accident attorney can help you put a value on your claim and guide you on whether a settlement from the insurance company is fair or if you should continue to negotiate. An attorney can also handle all negotiations with the insurance company for you, allowing you time to focus on healing.
When Should You Sue?
While you should always try to settle things with the insurance company, there are cases where they just won’t budge on your settlement offer. If this happens, you may make the decision that it is time to file a lawsuit.
This is where a car accident lawyer can help. They will provide guidance on when they think it’s time to take the case to trial versus continuing to negotiate with the insurance company.
Some situations where you should consider filing a lawsuit are:
- When the settlement is too low
- When the insurance company denies your claim outright
- When your bills are too high
- You have no fault in the accident
Remember that the insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible, so it’s likely they’ll play hardball, hoping you accept their settlement offers. They have many more resources than you, so they can get away with doing this. If you simply cannot agree on a fair settlement, or your bills keep growing due to your severe injuries, it may be time to take your case to court.
If you are permanently disabled and unable to work indefinitely, you also may want to take the case to trial, as you will be unable to earn wages for potentially the rest of your life.
A lawsuit may also be necessary if you clearly have no fault in the accident, yet the insurance company denies your claim or continues to offer lowball settlements.
Who Can You Sue After a Car Accident?
In most cases, you sue the other driver(s) who were responsible for the accident. Although you are suing the driver or drivers, it is most likely that their insurance company will pay the settlement, if you win. This means that the insurance company’s lawyer will represent the other driver in court.
There are also instances when you can sue someone other than the driver if they share some of the fault for the accident. If you can demonstrate that the owner of the car should not have allowed the driver to drive the vehicle, you can sue the owner.
You could also sue an employer if the person who caused the accident was driving on the job. You would have to show that the company was negligent in their hiring practices or somehow contributed to the negligent driving, though.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Receive?
If you end up suing the other driver or another responsible party, there are certain damages that you can collect. If a jury agrees that you are not at fault and should be awarded damages, things that you can be compensated for include:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Medical equipment
- Lost wages
- Loss of potential future income
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (these are meant to further punish the at-fault party)
- Property damage
If you do decide to move forward with an auto accident lawsuit, you will be at the mercy of a jury. They will decide if the other party is at fault and they will determine the amount of damages you are awarded.
Is Suing Someone After a Car Accident Worth It?
The answer to “Can you sue someone after a car accident?” is complicated. The answer is almost always yes, so the more important question is “do you actually need to sue someone after a car accident?”
In some situations, you don’t need to sue someone after you are injured in a car accident. If the insurance company offers you a fair settlement, you can take it, get your payment quickly, and move on with your life. However, if the settlement offer never comes, or is inadequate, then you may need to sue in order to get fairly compensated.
If this all seems a bit overwhelming, the good news is that you don’t have to figure it out alone. An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate your case and help you decide what is best. Contact Alpha Accident Lawyers today if you have been injured in an accident and are feeling lost on your next steps.