A car accident traumatizes everyone involved or touched by the event. It stirs up powerful and uncomfortable emotions, especially if the accident wasn’t your fault and if it caused serious injury to you or a loved one.
Accident victims face numerous immediate complications. For instance, you now will likely need to deal with the police, the other driver(s), doctors and therapists, and insurance companies. Your vehicle may have been totaled or at least damaged and in need of repair. The financial aftereffects of a crash can also make you feel overwhelmed and out of control, particularly if the incident forces you to take significant time off work or pay for substantial medical care either acutely or on an ongoing basis.
Given all these concerns and stresses, you might be wondering whether you can or should sue someone to obtain compensation.
Considerations When Weighing Whether to Sue for a Car Accident
To take legal action successfully, three elements must be present. First, someone or some party directly or indirectly caused the car crash through an act of negligence, carelessness or wrongdoing. Second, the accident caused harm and damages. Third, the liable person or party has money to pay you. (If the driver who hit you lacks insurance and other assets, and you lack uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, you may have no source of compensation.)
You also need to understand the insurance company’s goals and likely tactics. The insurer seeks to balance two competing interests: 1) taking care of customers and 2) concerns about its own bottom line. Frustratingly, the bottom line often wins out. The insurer might aggressively strive to minimize the pay out. For instance, it might tempt you to settle early with a lowball offer. If you accept this offer “just to get the negotiations over with,” you might not have cash to pay for your medical costs and related expenses.
3 Steps That Can Guide Your Decision
- Document, document, document – Whether or not you ultimately decide to sue, keep all potentially relevant documentation, such as police reports, doctor’s notes, photos of the scene, and written statements from witnesses. Your attorney can sort through the paperwork and other evidence to determine what’s necessary.
- Retain a reputable car accident attorney – Find a lawyer who understands the nuances of the law, who has a strong reputation negotiating with insurance companies and whose values resonate with your own.
- Strive to win via negotiation first – Litigating an accident claim can be time consuming, exhausting and frustrating. Most car accident cases settle before trial. If you and your attorney can negotiate a fair arrangement, that’s ideal. However, don’t be afraid to keep the litigation card “in your back pocket.” If the insurance company knows that you’re willing to go to court if need be, it will be more likely to give you more generous concessions during the negotiations.
Call our seasoned car accident lawyers today for insight into your rights and options to get fair compensation.