After a car accident, recovering is probably your top concern. In addition to recovering from your injury itself, paying for medical care after an accident and paying for a damaged vehicle can be very stressful. You are likely wondering if you can sue the other driver to compensate you for all of your bills and payments.
Sometimes personally suing the at-fault driver isn’t necessary and you can recover your costs through the driver’s insurance company, but sometimes there are scenarios where suing the other driver makes more sense and an experienced car accident lawyer would recommend that you proceed with the legal process.
When Is it Worth it to Sue After a Car Accident?
Most injured drivers file a claim with the other driver’s insurance provider and negotiate a settlement amount. However, the other driver’s insurance company may not give you the amount of damages that you asked for. The other driver also may not have had auto insurance. If you have trouble with your insurance claim or feel that you didn’t receive the amount you were entitled to, you may then decide to file a lawsuit.
Which Parties Can I Sue for My Car Accident Claim?
Determining who you can sue will depend on the negligence laws of your state. Some parties that you might be able to sue after a car accident are:
- The negligent driver. In accidents involving two cars, it is easy to know who to sue. Approximately 90% of car accidents are caused by human error according to an article from the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.
- Other negligent drivers. You may be able to sue more than one driver if you can show that other drivers were also negligent and contributed to your accident. 45% of motor vehicle deaths occur in multiple car accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
- The vehicle manufacturer. Though human-related errors make up the majority of automobile accidents, about 2% of car accidents are caused by vehicle defects. If the car or a component of the car malfunctioned and caused or contributed to the accident, the automobile manufacturer can be sued.
- The car repair company. Negligent auto repair can be the cause of some car accidents. Some of the potential areas where automotive defects often cause car accidents are: defective steering systems, defective fuel systems, defective brakes, defective tires, and defective airbags can all cause serious, sometimes fatal, injuries to the occupants of the vehicle.
- The government. You could sue the government agency if that agency was responsible for a road hazard or faulty traffic device or if you have been involved in an accident with a government employee driving a government vehicle.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Car Accident?
Car accident claims are often the result of a negligent action. Negligence is the failure to act with the level of care that a reasonably careful person would have used. Each personal injury claim is different, but negligence claims generally must meet the same four elements:
- A duty of care. The party who was at fault must have owed the injured party a duty of reasonable care. This is an obligation to avoid harming others when the harm is foreseeable. For example, drivers have the responsibility to drive safely and follow traffic laws, which means they owe a reasonable duty of care to the other motorists and pedestrians using the roadways around them.
- Breach of the duty of care. The injured party must prove that the at-fault driver breached the standard of care owed to them.
- That negligence caused the injury. The injured party needs to show a direct link between the action and their injury. The negligence must have been an essential part of the harm caused by the at-fault party.
- Actual damages. The injured party must be able to prove that they suffered actual harm, such as medical bills or lost wages. These damages can also be the mental pain and suffering from the accident.
How Do I Prove My Car Accident Claim?
You will have to prove the elements of a negligence claim to recover damages, so it is important to document as much information about the accident as possible. You should try to collect evidence of the accident as soon as possible. You should:
- Take pictures. You should take pictures of both your vehicle and the other vehicle or vehicles involved and license plate numbers. You should also take pictures of the scene of the accident, as well as your injuries and the scene of the accident.
- Exchange information with the other driver. You should always attempt to check on the other driver and then try to get their contact information and insurance information (company, policyholder, and policy number) of the other driver.
- Gather statements from eyewitnesses. If you can’t get witness statements immediately after the accident, try to get the contact information of witnesses so that you or your lawyer can follow up with them in the following days.
- Record your memory of what happened. You should try to write down your recollection of what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind.
- Find traffic camera or dash camera footage. This can show what direction both vehicles were traveling and what speed they were going, which can help show fault.
- File a police report. The first thing you should do is file a police report so that there is an accurate record of your accident. Your insurance will be more likely to approve your claim with a police report on record.
- See a doctor. Try to visit a doctor as soon as you can. A medical professional can check to see if you have any injuries that were not immediately apparent. They will also document your injuries, which will be valuable evidence of your injury.
- Talk to an attorney. You should consider speaking with an attorney after the accident. Different jurisdictions have different limits on when you must file your lawsuit, so you should not delay if you decide to pursue a legal action. Consulting with an attorney will increase your likelihood of recovering damages for your injuries.
It is important to your claim that you can prove that the other driver caused damage to your vehicle based on negligent or careless conduct. This could be distracted driving (texting, eating, or phone calls), drowsy driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or other reckless or irresponsible driving like speeding or ignoring red lights or stop signs. Last, you must demonstrate that the property damage to your vehicle caused a legitimate financial loss to you.
How much is my car accident claim worth?
It is impossible to know exactly how much a car accident claim is worth, but with a consultation, you can find out an approximate amount. No two car accidents are the same, and many factors can impact your potential compensation. Medical expenses, injury severity, and medical needs vary on a case-by-case basis.
Some of the most common damages awarded in car accidents are:
- Medical bills and associated costs.
- Pain and suffering.
- Physical therapy.
- Lost wages.
- Lost earning capacity due to injuries sustained.
- Emotional distress.
- Cost of future care.
After a free consultation with a lawyer at Regan Zambri Long, your attorney will be able to evaluate your claim and can discuss your legal options and rights with you.
How Long Do I Have to File My Car Accident Claim?
Car accident claims normally have a statute of limitations. This is a limit on how long after your accident you can file your claim. Statutes of limitations are meant to protect against unfair lawsuits by making sure the potential defendant in the legal action can still gather the evidence needed to fairly defend themselves.
The length of the statute of limitations will depend on the state:
- Maryland. A car accident victim has three (3) years from the date of the accident to file a claim in Maryland.
- Virginia. You have two (2) years to file your car accident claim in Virginia.
- Washington, DC. You have three (3) years from the date of the accident to file your claim in DC.
Why Should I Choose Regan Zambri Long, PLLC as My Car Accident Lawyer?
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is critical to the success of a car accident claim. The right lawyer can assist you in handling your car accident claim. Call Regan Zambri Long PLLC today for a free case evaluation. Our practice extends through Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. A lawyer from Regan Zambri Long will discuss your claim with you, talk to you about proving the elements of your car accident negligence claim, and explain how to proceed with your claim.
Regan Zambri Long works on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we will not charge you for legal services until after we have secured your financial compensation, and if we do not win your case and recover compensation on your behalf, we will waive all legal fees. If you are looking for a bicycle accident attorney, call 202-960-4596 to schedule a consultation free of charge.