You might have the right to file a lawsuit if someone hits your car, but suing is not always your only option. In fact, you may have better options right out of the gate. Before you decide how to proceed, you should speak with a car accident attorney.
Suing is an option for victims of car accidents in many situations. You will usually explore an insurance claim before you decide to sue, though. This is especially true in no-fault states that require you to first seek compensation from your insurance company before allowing you (in certain circumstances) to pursue compensation from an at-fault party.
All states require drivers to carry certain types of insurance coverage. For example, motorists in the Sunshine State must have:
In a no-fault state, your insurance may cover your losses regardless of who caused your accident. If your policy doesn’t provide sufficient coverage and your injuries are serious, you may file a claim with the liable motorist’s insurer.
An insurance claim might produce the compensation you need. There are many possible challenges to a successful claim, though.
Your claim with your own insurer or a liable motorist’s insurer may fail because:
A personal injury attorney will negotiate with the insurance companies. If they can’t secure a fair recovery, then they may sue the liable parties.
You should expect your car accident attorney to handle your lawsuit. You may be interested in the process, though, as the more you know, the better you can understand your case’s progress. Steps in a personal injury lawsuit generally include:
Your lawyer will draft and file your lawsuit in the proper civil court. They will also ensure that defendants in your case receive notice of the lawsuit.
Your attorney will investigate your car accident. They may hire investigators to lead the investigation.
The investigation may involve:
A thorough investigation is the foundation of a strong case.
Damages determine the value of your case. Every car accident victim suffers a unique array of damages.
Recoverable damages in car accident cases may include:
You may sue to recover one or more of these damages from someone who hit your car. People also sue when a car accident causes a wrongful death. Wrongful death claims may warrant coverage of funeral expenses, loss of consortium, lost financial support, and the losses listed above.
This is perhaps a personal injury attorney’s most important responsibility. Clients come to attorneys because they’re facing financial costs, among other reasons. Your attorney should fight hard for the insurance payment, settlement, or judgment you deserve.
Whether they occur with an insurance company or another attorney, negotiations may involve:
Negotiations may become contentious as your lawyer fights for you. Experience negotiating settlements may be invaluable. You may seek an attorney who has negotiated and won for their clients through settlement. In fact, most civil cases end with a settlement through the help of the right car accident lawyer.
If your lawyer doesn’t obtain a fair settlement, then they may proceed to trial. This process may be even trickier than settlement negotiations. The possibility of a trial is yet another reason to consider hiring an attorney. If you can’t honestly state that you’re willing to go to trial, then you may have less leverage during negotiations.
It may not cost you anything to sue someone. That’s because personal injury firms generally handle all upfront costs for a lawsuit. All you may have to do is agree to your attorney’s fee structure.
Contingency fees are common in personal injury cases. With contingency fees, the client pays nothing to hire the law firm. They agree, however, to pay the firm a portion of any settlement or judgment that they receive.
The law firm generally pays:
If the law firm fails to secure compensation, then the client owes them nothing. While not every personal injury firm uses this structure, many do.
It is always surprising when you’re in a car accident. You may be disoriented, in pain, and not know how to proceed.
You may prioritize two steps right now:
You want to bolster your health first. A doctor will diagnose any injuries you do have. They should also provide a treatment plan. Once you’ve tended to your health, call a law firm. An experienced car accident attorney can take over your case. They will walk you through all the necessary steps ahead.