Wherever you travel the roads, you are always at risk of involvement in a collision. Thankfully, if a vehicle encroaches on your right of way and hits your vehicle, whether parked, stopped at a traffic signal, or in motion, you could pursue compensation for your losses.
Often, the victim of an automobile accident will consider the possibility of filing a lawsuit against an at-fault party to recover for their current and future losses related to the accident.
What is the Purpose of a Lawsuit After An Accident?
When a car crash happens, it can cause damage to your vehicle, injuries, and other subsequent losses and financial impacts related to the aftermath of the collision. The severity of the accident and the injuries suffered by each victim can vary, and the costs of damages available will correspond to the totality of the losses. These damages can present financial challenges and difficulties for a car accident victim.
A lawsuit helps an accident victim recover compensation for the losses they have suffered through no fault of their own. Under the law, when a negligent party causes an accident, the accident victims can seek compensation for the losses they have sustained from the at-fault party.
Insurance policies of either the at-fault driver or the injured driver often cover car accidents. However, these policies may not always apply, or disagreements or discrepancies prevent a resolution through an insurance claims process.
Why Would You Need to Sue After a Car Accident?
You may not need to file a lawsuit after an accident except in certain circumstances. The driving force behind a car accident lawsuit can depend on the circumstances and facts of each case and claim.
Certain challenges in an insurance claims process can arise and may require a lawsuit to recover compensation or increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Examples of when a lawsuit might be necessary due to a car accident:
- No insurance – If a driver is uninsured and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage or the coverage available through your own insurer is inadequate, then your options to recover for your damages may be limited to a lawsuit against the individual responsible for the harm you have suffered. This may not always be a viable option based on the solvency and financial status of the party. A car accident attorney can best advise you on the options available to you for recovery in this situation.
- Insufficient coverage – Underinsured motorists can also present a challenge when a victim suffers extensive damage. In these cases, the policy limitations under the applicable coverage will restrict your recovery against their insurer and your own. When there is not enough coverage to reimburse you for your losses under a claim, it may be in your interest to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for the difference.
- Disagreement as to liability – Who is at fault in an accident is not always cut and dry. Liability can sometimes accrue to multiple parties, and you can hold other parties such as employers or vehicle owners liable for the damages. In some cases, both drivers can bear liability, which can further complicate recovery. If there is any disagreement as to the liability in an accident and the attribution of fault made by the insurance companies, often the only recourse is to proceed with a lawsuit to have the court determine who is ultimately responsible for the monetary damages you have incurred.
- Disagreement as to damages – Sometimes, nobody contests liability for the accident. Instead, they question the extent of your damages. This is often more contested in cases that involve a catastrophic injury that can cause permanent disability or other lifelong consequences. In these situations, the insurance companies, the at-fault party, and the accident victim can’t agree to a reasonable compensation offer. When this occurs, the claimant may file a lawsuit with the help of an attorney for resolution through court.
- Insurance claim denials – It is not uncommon for insurance companies to find any potential grounds to invalidate or deny a claim. When an accident victim files a claim after a crash many steps in the process could trigger an insurer’s denial. Sometimes these denials occur because of simple errors, omissions, or lack of evidence due presented by an inexperienced claimant without legal representation. When an insurance company denies a claim, you can still reach a successful resolution in your case. Often, the only way to proceed in a case where an insurance company denies your claim is to file a lawsuit against the insurer.
Who Can You Sue For Damages After A Motor Vehicle Collision?
When someone hits your vehicle, you will likely begin to consider who will pay for the damage you have suffered. In most instances, when another vehicle strikes you, the other party was negligent in their actions. This is especially common in rear-end collisions, sideswipes, and front-end crashes.
If the party is found negligent in their actions that resulted in the accident, they will likely be liable for the damages and harm they have caused you. Who you can seek compensation against for your losses will depend on the insurance coverage that applies to the accident and the other parties involved, either directly or indirectly.
Liability for car accident damage can include:
- The other driver – Any accident caused by driver negligence creates a personal liability of that driver to the victims. Although most drivers contract with insurance companies to protect them from personal loss in the event of an accident, there are situations where the insurance coverage may be insufficient or not apply and open an individual to the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit against them for their actions.
- The other driver’s insurance – A driver pays for car insurance to cover accidents. When the other driver is at fault, their insurance is often liable to you for the injuries and losses you have suffered.
- Your insurer – When you are in a no-fault state such as Florida, you may file a claim against your own insurer regardless of which party is at fault. There are several situations in which it may benefit you to file a claim against your own insurer to resolve your case.
- An employer of the other driver – If another driver was fulfilling work duties or behind the wheel of a company vehicle at the time of a collision, the employer of that driver could also bear liability to you.
- A rideshare service company – Rideshare vehicles are common amongst the roadways of many cities and towns in the U.S. Rideshare accidents can create complex liability issues due to the nature of the relationship between a private driver and the rideshare application. Rideshare companies carry their own insurance coverage that will apply only in specific situations.
What Damages Could You Be Entitled to After Someone Hits Your Car?
The amount of damage available to you when someone negligently hits your vehicle will depend greatly on the injuries you have sustained and the consequences of those injuries in your day-to-day life. Car accident injuries can kill or leave severe impacts on a victim that make them unable to live their lives as before the accident.
If you survive a motor vehicle accident but suffer serious injuries, your life was probably affected in multiple ways. From your relationships to your ability to work and enjoy your favorite activities, a car accident can have physical, emotional, and mental impacts that interfere with your ability to live a normal life.
Under the law, you can seek compensation for the damages you have suffered because of a car accident caused by negligence. The damage in a car accident case can include both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses are damages that can be identified monetarily and calculated relatively easily based on evidence such as bills, records, estimates, and receipts. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, can be much more complicated to value in terms of money. This is because non-economic losses are often tied to the personal experience of an individual after an accident and the impact the accident has on their own lives and individual abilities.
Damages in a car accident can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Future impacts to income and earning potential
- Future medical expenses
- Damage to your vehicle or other personal property
- Pain and suffering
- Lost quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Wrongful death
Do I Have Other Options to Seek Compensation After a Car Crash?
A lawsuit should not be your first avenue of recovery after a car crash where someone hits your vehicle. Most car accident cases will resolve through a car insurance claim. It is only if a problem or challenge arises in this process that you may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties.
Your priority after a car crash may be to work towards a successful resolution of your claim through a settlement with an insurer. If you reach a settlement agreement that is reasonable compensation for the losses you have sustained, you can avoid the need to file a lawsuit through the courts.
To have the highest likelihood of success in the insurance claims process, seek representation from a qualified car accident attorney. With the right attorney at your side that can represent your rights against the parties involved, you may be able to avoid unnecessary delays or complications in your claim that could result in a denial or prolonged timeline for recovery.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer After a Motor Vehicle Collision?
If another vehicle hits you, make your priority getting treatment for your medical needs and injuries. Once you are stable and in recovery from the harm caused in the accident, your attention can turn to how you will fight for the compensation you deserve against the parties potentially responsible.
Protect your legal rights from the outset of your claim and case. Insurance companies can begin to work on a claim rather quickly in the hope to resolve the claim with a low settlement offer or denial to prevent further losses to their company.
Some insurance representative tactics will be to pressure you to make a recorded statement or subject yourself to their questions while recorded with the guise that this will help your claim process faster. You are under no obligation to speak to the other driver’s insurance company, and doing so can ultimately jeopardize your case and the compensation you can recover.
Contact a car accident attorney as soon as you can after a motor vehicle accident. If you resolve your case without a lawyer, you run the risk of accepting an offer for significantly less than the value of your case or the insurance company denying your claim.