After a car accident, you can go through your insurance or the other driver’s insurance to seek compensation for your losses. Your insurance coverage might offer to pay your bills, but there is a catch: these companies rarely offer to pay the full amount. So what are your options?
You may be wondering whether suing is in your best interest. The litigation process can be long and complex and costly, and it does not always turn out in the claimant’s favor. Thus, understanding the basics of personal injury law is critical to your decision.
When You Can Sue for a Car Accident?
A personal injury case hinges on proving fault. If the other driver was mostly at fault, he or she can be held responsible for your injuries. California follows a comparative fault clause, meaning that even if you are partially at fault, you can still collect compensation. Your fault percentage reduces the amount of compensation you receive. For example, if you are 10% at fault for the accident, you will receive 90% of the total compensation.
Proving fault is how you obtain that compensation. Perhaps the other driver was talking on a cell phone and rear-ended you. Or maybe he or she was speeding or driving under the influence. These are examples of negligence, which will increase the other driver’s fault percentage. When you sue for a car accident, you want to be as close to 0% at-fault as possible.
I Think I Have a Strong Case; What Are My Next Steps?
If you and your attorney can argue that you were mostly not at-fault and that your losses necessitate compensation, it can be a good idea to sue to obtain damages like medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Typically, the at-fault insurance company will try to pay as little as possible. As you and your lawyer consider litigation, keep the following tips in mind:
- Gather all applicable evidence, like medical records and bills, photos of the accident, photos of your injuries, and other documents that support your case. Do not talk about your accident on social media, and do not post anything that may indicate you are not as hurt as you claim (pictures of you going out, engaging in sports activities, etc.).
- Consult with a personal injury attorney who handles car accident cases. He or she will help you collect evidence and advise you throughout the suit.
- Be prepared to reject settlement offers, and be patient. The insurance company may try to settle out of court; in fact, most cases do settle. However, you do not have to settle right away. You can counter the offer or go to court for a larger amount if negotiations break down. The litigation process will take longer, but it may get you the compensation you need to pay for medical bills and other crucial expenses. Your attorney can help you determine when and how to abandon settlement negotiations and go to court.
Contact the Law Offices of Edward C. Casey, Jr. to discuss your possible options to obtain fair compensation after a car accident.