Getting into a car accident causes a chain reaction of questions. One of the first ones is whether or not you should try to receive some type of compensation for the damages or injuries you have suffered. Not everyone files a lawsuit directly after they have been in a car accident. It may or may not even make sense for you to file one. It is important to take a step back after an accident and look at the situation objectively. If you are unsure of what your next move should be, an experienced car accident lawyer will help you make a decision. However, the following points are prerequisites and considerations for being eligible for a lawsuit. Take them into account before you contact an attorney.
- The Accident Was Not Your Fault
While it will depend on the state you live in, whether or not you were partially at fault may pose a problem if you want to file a lawsuit. This is known as the laws of contributory or comparative negligence. As one example, you might not be able to file a lawsuit if you were speeding when the accident occurred. In some states, you may not be allowed to recover damages if you were just partially at fault in the accident. Other states rule that if the accident was more than 50% your fault, then you are barred from recovery. States such as California follow a pure comparative negligence law where parties can collect damages even if they are 99% at fault for an accident.
- You Are Suffering from Damage or Injury
Aside from the other party being at fault, there needs to be a reason why you are suing when you file a lawsuit. For example, a fender bender that caused little damage may not be enough reason to pursue legal action. If you have not suffered physical injury and you have no uncompensated property damage, then there will not be anything for you to sue for. In order to file for an auto accident lawsuit, there must be some proof of damages, such as an injury. For more information about recovering compensation from your accident, please read our blog on damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
- You Cannot Accurately Determine Liability
When you get into an accident with another party, both insurance companies will come together to figure out who was at fault. They will base their decision on the state’s definition of negligence. There will be times when the insurance companies will have difficulty deciding who was at fault. When you are not at fault, the other driver’s insurance company will be the one responsible for paying. Unfortunately, that insurance company may not want to admit that their client was actually at fault. Keep in mind that to them, you are simply a person who is costing them money. If this is the case, an attorney may be able to force them to pay you the money they owe. If the accident was a close call and the other party refuses to admit fault, it is important for a judge or jury to listen to the evidence and come to a conclusion on the case.
- You Are Offered a Low Settlement
You do not ever want to take the first offer the insurance company gives you. They have no reason to provide you with their best offer right off the bat, as they want to pay you as little as possible. You have the right to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company, but there will be no guarantee that they will give you what you rightfully deserve. If this is the case, then you should probably hire an attorney to fight for you. When you inform the insurance company that you are hiring legal representation, they will often make you a much better settlement offer. They want to keep the case out of court to avoid paying additional court costs. Remember, do not file a lawsuit as a negotiating tactic. This would be known as a frivolous lawsuit, and it will not get you the money you want.
- The Evidence Is in Your Favor
It is easier to file a lawsuit if you have a strong case. An attorney may not want to take a case that does not have enough evidence to win. If you have strong evidence on your side, you will be more likely to succeed if the case goes to court. If you know that you have a strong case, but the other insurance company will not reach a settlement, heading to court with your attorney will be the best option.
- You Will Be Dealing With Costs in Your Future
If an accident has caused you to lose income due to missing work, you may have a good case. Additionally, if you are looking at future medical care costs due to the accident, you will have a claim against the insurance company. However, this does not necessarily mean that the insurance company will compensate you fairly. In some cases, a jury could be your best bet when you want to receive the money you deserve. This is especially true if the damages you suffered are difficult to value. You do not want an insurance company to decide on how much you should receive.
- There Was an Egregious Mistake
Receiving punitive damages in a personal injury case is rare. However, a jury will be better at assessing them than the actual insurance company. If the other driver did something extremely reckless that caused the accident, you might have the opportunity to receive punitive damages. For example, if a drunk driver hits you, you may be entitled to punitive damages. If you believe your case entitles you to punitive damages, then this is the right time to file a lawsuit.
Talk to a Car Accident Attorney Today
The legal team at Dash Injury Law Firm has years of experience helping car accident victims receive the maximum settlement they deserve. We will fight tooth and nail to ensure our clients receive full and fair compensation. Our lawyers will do our best to negotiate a fair car accident settlement outside of court, but we are fully prepared to take the case to court if need be.
We highly recommend working with a lawyer when you want to file a car accident lawsuit. Trying to handle a claim independently without legal representation will be a challenging task without the proper skills.
Give us a call today for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of the accident.