Car accidents can potentially bring a plethora of burdens, including severe injuries, hefty medical and automobile expenses, and disrupt your peace of mind. In times of despair, car accident victims often question whether or not they should sue the other driver to potentially receive compensation for their losses. “Should I sue after a car accident?”. The answer to this question entirely depends upon the circumstances at hand. These factors may include the state you live in, your specific insurance policy, and the events leading up to the car accident. Contact your insurance agency to learn the specific steps you need to take to receive compensation for your car accident injuries.
The main factor when deciding to sue the other driver after a car accident is whether you have been injured or not. If you have been injured, you likely have a viable car accident lawsuit and can potentially receive compensation for your injuries.
In car accident cases, you must report the accident and file a lawsuit within a specific amount of time, or else your injury claim can no longer be viable. This can include reporting the accident and injuries to your insurance company, notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles, and filing a lawsuit.
For example, California statute of limitations allows injured individuals 2 years since the date of incidence to file their car accident lawsuit. Generally, car accident injury claims are no longer valid after 2 years of the date of incidence. There are few exceptions to this statute.
California Is a No-Fault Auto Insurance State
Because California is not a no-fault auto insurance state, you can sue to receive compensation for your losses even if you have auto insurance. Proving the other party’s liability and/or negligence is the single most important factor when seeking compensation for your losses after a car accident. Proving the other party’s negligence will likely give you the opportunity to receive compensation for your injuries, including the following:
- Medical expenses (past, current, and future medical costs)
- Rehabilitation costs
- Property damage (your car is damaged after the accident)
- Lost wages: compensation for the wages lost as a direct result of the car accident.
- Loss of future income (your injuries will prevent you from earning income for a future period of time)
- Pain and suffering (past, current, and future emotional distress, pain, or suffering): compensation for the mental and emotional distress
- caused by the car accident, including past/future pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium (the victim’s spouse has lost the ability to have normal sexual relations with his or her injured partner)
- Funeral and burial costs
- Punitive damages
The only way to receive compensation for your injuries from the other driver is either through a lawsuit or a settlement outside of court.
How would I know If I have a viable auto accident claim?
Every auto accident is different, so all the facts will be looked at in an accident. For one, the other party must have insurance to be able to sue them. You may always sue an uninsured driver but in most cases, people who are uninsured don’t typically have a lot of money nor would they be willing to give up any money at all. It would be much more difficult to sue an uninsured driver rather than an insured driver. You may also file a claim with your own insurance provider against an uninsured driver. One downside to this, however, is that your insurance company will not pay over your own coverage limit. (i.e. if you have up to $200,000 in damages policy your maximum would be $200,000.)
Keep in mind that you would not be suing the insured driver’s insurance company. State laws and insurance policies regulate the level of liability, so if a person chooses to sue they would be suing the driver. It’s also important to note that a person may initiate a suit if they feel that the insurance company is not covering enough of the damages, or that if you believe you deserve more. Speak with Pride Legal today to discuss your options on suing.
Determining liability is the most difficult part of some auto accident claims. Not all cases are clear cut as a rear-end, running a red light, or a t-bone. Some cases will be more difficult, such as a hit and run, running a stop sign, or merging lanes. Although your insurance company will go over your case and all the details you and the other driver provide, if your auto accident wasn’t clearly the other driver’s fault your best bet would be to contact an attorney. Speaking with an attorney first would allow your attorney to handle the insurance company and have them speak to them and give all the information over. An attorney knows the law and knows what to say while speaking to insurance providers.
So Should I Sue the Other Driver?
Suing the other driver is not always your best course of action. If your lawyer states you can prove the other driver was liable for the car accident, then you should continue with a lawsuit. If you and your lawyer feel you may be to blame for the accident, filing a lawsuit may not be your best course of action. If the other driver was to prove your liability, the lawsuit would backfire, leaving you to potentially compensate the other driver for his or her losses.
In order to prove the other driver’s liability you must present that:
- The opposing party owed you a duty of care. (For example, all drivers must stop at red lights.)
- The opposing party breached the duty of care. (Mike sped through a red light.)
- The breach of duty caused an accident. (Mike hit Rachel, a driver who passed the intersection on a green light signal.)
- The accident caused you physical harm. (Rachel broke her leg as a result of the accident.)
Without documented injuries or damages, it is difficult to win a pedestrian accident case. If you suffered injuries (no matter how severe or minor) because of another party’s negligence, you have a viable personal injury claim. In this case, Rachel has a viable personal injury claim.
Q: How can I know who was at fault for my car accident?
A: This all depends on the circumstances of each individual accident, but there are generally some rules of thumb to follow. If you were rear-ended, it’s going to be near impossible for the other person to prove that the accident was your fault. California law states that drivers must be one car space away from each other, so if a car rear-ends you, that’s proof that they were not one car space away. If two people are changing lanes at the same time and collide, it could be difficult to prove who is at fault. With the help of Pride Legal, you can be assured that your attorney will fight till the end to make sure you aren’t at fault.
Q: Are there any statutes of limitations regarding car accidents?
A: Yes there are. Insurance companies are not going to take claims that have happened over 30 days after the incident. This policy is put in place to ensure that no other damages have occurred other than the damages from the accident. If there are injuries in the accident, the insurance company or attorney will have 5 years to file the paperwork after the date of the accident. In some cases, if you were proven at fault for an accident with injuries, if the other side does not file the correct paperwork within 5 years, your points would be dropped and reversed.
Q: How much money can I make from my car accident lawsuit?
A: The amount of compensation given to each car accident victim is dependent on the severity of the accident and how much damage has been caused. Of course, an accident involving bodily injury will have a much larger compensation compared to a simple fender bender. Some common reimbursements include the price to fix your vehicle, pain and suffering, medical bills, transportation costs while you do not have a vehicle, and more.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.