There are few things as frightening as being involved in a car accident. Even if you walk away relatively unscathed, the psychological damage to you and your passengers can linger even after repairs are made to your vehicle. In many cases, you may be questioning whether or not you have reason to file a lawsuit against the other motorist involved in the incident.
If you’ve never been involved in such a collision, it can be difficult to know whether you need to sue the other driver, their insurance company or some other entity. Determining who to sue (and whether it is a good idea to do so) depends on factors including the laws in your state, the other driver’s insurance coverage and whether or not they had insurance to begin with.
What's In This Article
There is little point in filing a lawsuit against the other driver involved in your accident if you were, in fact, the at-fault motorist. However, if there is any doubt in who caused the wreck, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine fault for your incident. They can also help come up with a dollar amount you may be entitled to based on your percentage of fault.
In most cases, car accident lawsuits are filed by victims against the driver who caused their crash. Depending on negligence law in your state, you may not be able to recover damages if you contributed to the incident in any way. In contributory negligence states, for example, even the smallest of fault on your part can prevent you from filing a lawsuit against the other driver. In other cases, a court may award you damages with your percentage of negligence in mind.
In order to recover damages from the other driver, you’ll need to first determine if they have auto insurance coverage. If their policy does not sufficiently cover your damages, you may wish to file a lawsuit. In some states, no-fault insurance options ensure that medical bills can be paid for the injured victim regardless of which driver was at fault. No-fault states, however, allow you to sue the at-fault driver for damages. The bottom line? If you’ve filed a claim with the other driver’s insurance company and negotiated extensively to no avail, you may want to initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you’ve filed a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and have not received what you believe to be fair compensation, you may wish to file a lawsuit. All car accident victims have the legal right to sue the at-fault driver for the damages sustained in the crash. Many states, however, do not allow you to sue the other driver’s insurance company. Keep this in mind as you discuss your options with an attorney.
If the at-fault driver does not have car insurance, you may opt to sue the driver themselves. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to collect damages from a driver who does not have many assets on which to draw upon. Even if you win your lawsuit, you may still be left empty-handed. Another option? File a claim with your own insurance company. Most policies include uninsured motorist benefits. These benefits, however, cannot exceed your primary coverage. For example, if you have $200,000 in coverage, you may seek a maximum of $200,000 in uninsured motorist benefits.
Settle or Sue?
In many cases, car accident victims are torn between settling their car accident claim with the insurance company or escalating to a lawsuit. A car accident lawsuit might be tempting, particularly if you have sustained serious damages, but it’s important to explore all options before making a decision. The vast majority of all car accident claims end far before anyone ever sees the inside of a courtroom. That’s because a car accident claim can be settled far more quickly than a lawsuit, meaning cash is in the pocket of the victim sooner. You can also avoid court costs, the need to appear at multiple court proceedings and an unpredictable jury decision.
Still, there are good reasons to sue. If you’re struggling to negotiate with the insurance company and want fair compensation, it may be a good idea to talk to a car accident lawyer. Initial appointments are often free of charge and can offer you good insight into your chances in the courtroom. Even better, you can begin the process of filing a lawsuit and still decide to settle at any time. At any time before a verdict is delivered, you can opt to settle out of court. This flexibility is especially appealing for those on the fence about moving forward with a lawsuit.
If you need help deciding whether or not to sue, Lawsuit Info Center can help connect you with an experienced attorney in your area. Free, no risk consultations are just one phone call away. Best of all, there is never any pressure to hire an attorney. To get started, call 877-205-4877.