Can You Sue if Someone Hits Your Car?

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.

Filing an Insurance Claim Before You Sue

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.

Motorists Must Have Auto Insurance

All states require drivers to carry certain types of insurance coverage. For example, motorists in the Sunshine State must have:

  • A minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP)
  • A minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage

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.

Reasons Why an Insurance Claim May Not Work for You

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:

  • There is a dispute about liability for your accident
  • An insurance company argues that your medical care was unnecessary
  • An insurance company claims that your injuries aren’t accident-related
  • An insurance company claims that certain conditions void your coverage
  • You receive a low settlement offer
  • Insurance coverage limits aren’t enough to cover your losses

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.

What Can You Expect From a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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:

#1. Filing Your Case

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.

#2. Investigation of Your Accident (and Collection of Evidence)

Your attorney will investigate your car accident. They may hire investigators to lead the investigation.

The investigation may involve:

  • Visiting the scene of your accident
  • Recording witness accounts
  • Obtaining the police report for your collision
  • Gathering any available video footage of your accident
  • Photographing property damage, injuries, and other relevant aspects of your case
  • Reconstructing your accident with help from experts

A thorough investigation is the foundation of a strong case.

#3. Identifying and Valuing Your Damages

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:

  • Healthcare costs: Car accidents that cause injuries also cause medical costs. Emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, and doctor visits may be among your healthcare expenses. Though you or your insurer may pay these costs upfront, liable parties may reimburse you after a successful lawsuit.
  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is a common feature of civil lawsuits. This damage may cover lost quality of life, injury-related pain, and trauma-related problems. Treatment for your pain and suffering may also entitle you to coverage.
  • Vehicle repairs: Liable parties may pay for repairs to or the replacement of your vehicle. A settlement or judgment may cover any other property damage from your car accident.
  • Professional losses: Lost income, lost earning power, missed opportunities for promotions and bonuses, and lost productivity are some professional damages you may experience.

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.

#4. Pursuit of a Fair Settlement or Judgment

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:

  • Comparison of accident-related evidence
  • The determination of liability
  • Comparison of loss calculations
  • Oral arguments
  • Direct financial negotiations

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.

How Much Does It Cost to Sue Someone?

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:

  • Any case-related fees
  • The cost of hiring experts
  • The day-to-day costs of completing a lawsuit

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.

Someone Hit Your Car – What Now?

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:

  1. Get medical treatment
  2. Hire a lawyer to handle your car accident case

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.

January 11, 2022

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