In the aftermath of a car accident, staying focused on the long-term is difficult as you cope with the shock of the event. Car accidents can be devastating, especially when dealing with death or injury. However, as the dust settles, liability becomes a key issue, especially when injuries result in high medical bills and loss of income.
As soon as you’re able, write down the details of the accident from your perspective. Even if all this information is on the police report, you may need to refer to your own notes later, especially if your case goes to trial. Include the basic details like:
- street names and location;
- the date and time of the accident;
- the weather and road conditions at the time;
- the other car’s license plate number and a description of that car’s make and model; and
- the contact information of anyone else involved.
Then write a detailed account of the accident from your perspective. Try to recall details like other cars or pedestrians. The more detailed this account, the more likely you’ll be able to testify accurately later if necessary.
Though many drivers submit a claim to the other driver’s insurance company, a car accident victim can sue the other driver for damages and compensation. This action may be necessary when an insurance company offers you a low settlement. A skilled auto accident injury lawyer can ensure you get what you need and deserve.
Verifying liability status
Liability is being responsible for causing the accident. A driver’s liability determines who or which insurance company should pay for the outcome, from medical bills to income loss. Retain a copy of the police report for later reference.
Are you completely not-at-fault or partially at fault?
The police report following the accident and the insurance company’s assessment will establish which driver is at fault. But, in many cases, both drivers carry some blame for the crash.
For example, the other driver may have run a red light, but if you were distracted and could have avoided the accident, part of the blame will fall on you. Even if you’re assigned partial responsibility, you may still be entitled to compensation. A car accident injury lawyer can help you understand your rights.
Working with the insurance company
Your next step is determining if the other driver is insured and whether their insurance will cover costs associated with your injuries, assuming the company will release that information. Insurance companies are required to pay for medical coverage if you live in a state with no-fault laws (where the driver’s guilt isn’t a question). However, in most of these states, you’re still allowed to sue if costs like loss of income, repair, and replacement of property damages and medical treatments aren’t fully covered.
Before you take the next step, negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company. Payouts are sometimes lowballed as a matter of policy, and with a little pushing from you or your attorney, you may get the compensation you seek without resorting to suing.
Suing the driver
If you’ve attempted to recoup your costs from the other driver’s insurance company and still haven’t covered your expenses fully, it may be time to sue the other driver for negligence.
What it entails
At this point, the process becomes complicated depending on your state and different auto collision laws. You can sue the other driver, but you might also be able to name the owner of the car (if that person is different from the driver) or the driver’s employer if you can determine that they knowingly let the driver use the vehicle when impaired or tired.
At your first meeting with your lawyer, present your case and any evidence you’ve gathered. Your lawyer will then advise you to settle or proceed with the suit and initiate the necessary paperwork per the laws in that state.
If you’re considering suing the other party, start the process as soon as possible. Firstly, your memory can fade over time, even if you’ve kept extensive records. Also, many states have time limits for personal injury cases. Some, like Louisiana and Texas, are as short as one year.
Suing them personally if they don’t have insurance
As of 2019, over 12 percent of drivers don’t have insurance coverage. If the other driver in your collision is one of them, you have two options. You can sue the other driver, bearing in mind that most people who don’t have insurance often don’t have significant assets. So, they won’t be able to pay you, and you’ll incur legal fees on top of your other bills.
The second option is to claim under “uninsured motorist” benefits in your policy, assuming you included this option. Your claim can’t exceed the amount of the policy, however. So, if your policy is set at a hundred thousand dollars, that’s the most you can expect to receive.
When to call an auto accident attorney
If you’re in an accident and think you might want to sue, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting weeks or months may mean you miss opportunities to gather important information or evidence. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s devastating, and you deserve compensation for your medical bills and loss of income.
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