Can I Sue After a Car Accident?

December 21, 2023 | Jarrett Blakeley
Can I Sue After a Car Accident?

Car accidents can leave you with harrowing injuries, a damaged car, and many questions. One common question is whether you can sue someone after a car accident.

Understanding Your Right to Sue

The first thing to know is that you often can sue someone after a car accident. But whether you should sue depends on a few things. Mainly, it's about who you can hold liable for the accident, how badly you suffered an injury, or how much damage occurred

If the other driver caused the accident because they did not drive safely, you might have a good reason to sue. This can be because they broke the speed limit, drove while distracted, or violated other traffic rules.

Injuries and Damages

When you're in a car accident, the biggest concern often is the impact it has on your life. This impact can come in many forms, from physical injuries to property damage. You need to understand these types of injuries and damages, especially if you're considering suing the person responsible for the accident.

Physical Injuries

Experience Lawyer for Car Accident

Physical injuries are the most immediate and often the most severe result of a car accident. These can range from minor bruises and cuts to more severe injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, or even life-changing conditions like spinal damage.

Medical treatment for these injuries can be expensive. You might need emergency care right after the accident, including an ambulance ride, emergency room treatment, and any immediate surgeries or procedures required to treat your injuries.

But the medical costs don't stop there. Many times, injuries from car accidents require ongoing treatment, including regular doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, and medications to manage pain.

Some injuries take a long time to heal, and some can have lasting effects. For example, a serious head injury can affect your brain, changing how you think or act.

Spinal injuries might leave you with long-term pain or even cause difficulties in moving or walking. These severe injuries can change your life, affecting your ability to work, enjoy hobbies, and do everyday activities.

Lost Income

Severe injuries might force you to miss work, which can be a big problem, especially if you rely on your job to support yourself and your family. Missing work means lost income, making it hard to pay your bills and support your family. 

Serious injuries might prevent you from returning to your old job. You might never work again at all. These hardships can significantly reduce your future earnings and financial security.

Pain and Suffering

Besides the physical pain from your injuries, a car accident can cause a lot of emotional distress, which is often called pain and suffering. It's about how the accident and your injuries have affected your mental and emotional well-being. 

You might experience anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an accident. These feelings can be just as challenging as physical injuries. They can affect how you sleep, your mood, your relationships with others, and your overall enjoyment of life.

Property Damage

In addition to physical injuries and emotional distress, there's also the matter of property damage. The accident might have damaged or even destroyed your car. Fixing or replacing a vehicle can cost thousands of dollars, and it's not just your car that might sustain damage. You might have had valuable items damaged or destroyed in the accident that were in your vehicle, like a laptop or phone.

Getting Compensation for Your Losses

When all these things happen because someone else caused the accident, suing can be a way to get compensated for your losses. Filing a lawsuit means you can get money to cover your medical bills, the income you lost from being out of work, the pain and suffering you've experienced, and the damage to your property.

A lawsuit can't undo the accident but can assist with the financial and emotional impacts.

Remember, each car accident and its impact on the people involved differ. Get advice specific to your situation if you're dealing with injuries and damages from an accident. A lawyer can present your options and guide you through getting compensated for your losses.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Before thinking about a lawsuit, it's normal to deal with insurance companies first. All drivers are supposed to have car insurance to cover them if they are the cause of a car accident. Usually, you will file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company to get paid for your damages.

However, sometimes insurance companies don't offer enough to cover all your costs. Or they might say that their driver wasn't at fault. When you can't get a fair deal through insurance, suing becomes a real option.

How does a Lawsuit Work?

Suing someone means taking them to court. You're asking a judge or jury to decide if the other driver was at fault and how much they should pay you. Here's a basic idea of how it works:

Filing a Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit is the first step in legal action after a car accident. It's where you officially start your case. With your lawyer's help, you file legal papers in court. These papers are important because they explain who you are suing, why you are suing them, and what you hope to get from them.

When you file a lawsuit, you become the plaintiff, and the person you're suing is the defendant. The papers you file, often called a complaint, will detail the accident, how it happened, and why you believe the other driver is to blame. You'll also list what you want from the lawsuit: money for medical bills, car repairs, or other damages you faced because of the accident.

This step sets everything in motion. Once you file the lawsuit, the court will notify the defendant, allowing them to respond to your claims.

Gathering Evidence

After you file a lawsuit, the next big task is gathering evidence, which is critical because it supports your story about what happened and why you deserve compensation. Evidence can come in many forms, and each piece helps build your case.

One of the first things to collect is the police report. If the police had come to the accident scene, they should have made a report that included details about what happened, who was involved, and sometimes, who they thought was at fault.

Witness statements are another critical piece of evidence. If anyone saw the accident, their account of events can be beneficial. They can confirm whether the other driver broke the speed limit or ran a red light.

Medical records are also crucial, especially if you suffered an injury in the accident. These records show your injuries, needed treatment, and how much it costs. Other evidence can include photos of the accident scene, your car's damage, and other documents showing how the accident impacted you, like pay stubs if you lost income.

Going to Court

Going to court is where you and the defendant tell your stories. It's a formal process before a judge and sometimes a jury. You and the defendant present your car accident evidence and arguments during the court sessions.

Your lawyer will speak for you, explaining the accident, showing the evidence, and arguing why the other driver should be responsible for your damages. The defendant's lawyer will do the same for their side. They might try to show that their client wasn't at fault or that your damages aren't as severe as you say.

Court proceedings can be complex and can take time. There are often many steps, like presenting evidence, questioning witnesses, and making legal arguments. Each side can respond to the other's claims and evidence.

Judge or Jury Decides

After both sides have presented their cases, it's up to the judge or jury to decide. They look at all the evidence and listen to the arguments from both sides.

Their job is to determine two main things: Was the defendant at fault for the accident? And second, if they were at fault, how much should they pay you?

The decision they make is called a verdict. If they decide in your favor, the verdict will include how much the defendant owes you, including coverage for your medical bills, car repairs, and compensation for pain and suffering.

The judge or jury's decision is usually final, but in some cases, your lawyer can appeal it, which means asking a higher court to review the case if you believe there was a legal mistake.

Time Limits for Suing

There's something important called a statute of limitations. This law says how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. It's different in each state, but the period is usually a few years. If you wait too long, you will lose your chance to sue.

When Suing Makes Sense?

Suing is a big step, and it's not always the right choice for everyone. Here are some situations when it might make sense:

Insurance Doesn't Cover All Costs

Sometimes, the insurance company's offer isn't enough after a car accident. Insurance is supposed to cover expenses like medical bills and car repairs. Still, sometimes, the amount they're willing to pay doesn't cover everything, which can be frustrating, especially if your bills are piling up.

In cases where the insurance offer falls short, you might have to consider other options to get the full amount you need. If you find yourself in this situation, it's crucial to determine all your costs, not just the immediate ones, which include long-term expenses like ongoing medical treatment or therapy. If the insurance doesn't cover these, suing might be a way to get the additional money you need.

Insurance Denies the Claim

Another reason you might consider suing is if the insurance company denies your claim entirely, and this can happen when the insurance company believes their driver wasn't at fault.

When the insurance company denies your claim, you're left to handle all the costs on your own, which can be overwhelming, especially if you're facing large medical bills or have had to miss work.

In these cases, look at evidence, like the police report or witness statements, that shows the other driver’s negligence. A lawyer can guide you through challenging the insurance company's decision in court if you have a strong case.

Serious Injuries Affecting Your Life

Sometimes, the impact of a car accident goes beyond just the physical injuries. A serious injury may significantly change your life. Maybe you can't work anymore, or you can't enjoy hobbies or activities you used to love. These changes can affect your mood, relationships, and overall quality of life.

When an accident has a significant impact, suing can be about more than money. It's also about getting some justice for everything you've lost and are going through, which is especially true if your injuries are permanent or will affect you for a long time. A lawsuit can get compensation for these long-term impacts, which can be just as important as the immediate costs like medical bills.

Disagreement Over Fault

After some accidents, the parties disagree about fault. Maybe you believe the other driver caused the accident, but they or their insurance company disagrees.

You may need a judge or jury to look at the evidence and decide, and this is where suing comes into play. Taking the matter to court allows you to present your side of the story and have a neutral party decide who's to blame.

How a Law Firm Can Help?

If you're thinking about suing, a law firm can help you. They can look at your case and tell you if you have a good chance of winning. They handle all the legal aspects for you, like filing a lawsuit, gathering evidence, and talking in court, and can be a huge relief, especially when you're dealing with injuries or a damaged car.

Lawyers can also negotiate with insurance companies. Sometimes, hiring a lawyer can make the insurance company take you more seriously and offer a better deal. And if your case goes to court, a lawyer will fight for your rights and try to get you the compensation you deserve.

Always Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer

Suing after a car accident is a big decision. It is sometimes the right choice if you suffered an injury or had significant losses because of someone else's hazardous driving. But it's not always simple or quick.

A lawyer can explain how lawsuits work, what your rights are, and how they can help you. Get legal advice that fits your specific case if you're in this situation.

Remember, every accident and every person's situation is different. A skilled personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can determine if suing is right for your claim.

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Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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