Driving home in rush hour traffic is never a fun activity. But while being stuck in traffic isn’t a picnic, it sure beats getting into a car accident. If you’ve been in a collision, you probably have many questions – particularly if you've been injured or have property damage.
After seeking medical attention (if needed) and doing all those things necessary while at the scene of the accident, your next question may be “who do I sue after a car accident?” Do you sue the driver or the insurance company? Most injured motorists simply file a claim with the other party’s insurance company and negotiate from there. However, if you are faced with the situation of a lawsuit, here is some helpful information. The answer to who you should sue depends on a number of factors including the laws in the state where you live, the other driver’s insurance coverage, and whether or not the driver has insurance to being with. Below is a brief overview of your options if you find yourself with damages as a result of a car accident.
The first order of business is determining who is at fault for the car accident. Obviously if you are 100 percent at fault, trying to sue the other driver for your own injuries or medical expenses won’t be a successful endeavor. A skilled lawyer can help you determine fault for your accident and also help you decide how much you may be entitled to for your injuries based upon your percentage of fault.
But that leads to the next question. What is the negligence law in your state? Car accident lawsuits are typically predicated on the theory that the other driver was negligent. With that in mind, state laws differ in how they award damages with respect to each driver’s level of negligence. States follow either a contributory, comparative, or modified comparative negligence model. If you live in a contributory negligence state, for example, even being one percent at fault for the accident can bar recovery. Other states award damages in proportion to each party’s percentage of negligence.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Aside from making the initial determination about fault and your state’s negligence laws, you will next need to figure out if the other driver has insurance coverage in an amount sufficient to cover your injuries. Many states have a no-fault insurance option, whereby the insurance company pays medical coverage regardless of which driver caused the accident. Still most no-fault states allow you to sue the other driver for severe damages. Simply put, if you’ve made a claim with the other party’s insurance company, negotiated extensively with them, and they still aren’t covering all your expenses, your next step may be to initiate a lawsuit against the other driver.
Suing the At-Fault Driver
If you’ve already made a claim for economic recovery to the insurance company but haven’t received the recompense you believe you deserve, your next step is a negligence lawsuit against the driver. You have a legal right to sue the at-fault driver for the personal injuries that were caused by the crash, including aggravation of pre-existing injuries. Most states do not allow you to sue the insurance company directly, however.
What if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If the other driver doesn’t have insurance coverage, you have one of two options. First, you can attempt to sue the driver personally. Keep in mind: many drivers who don’t carry insurance may also not have many assets from which to draw upon to pay for a lawsuit. Hence, even if you win a case against the driver, you may not be able to recover regardless.
Your second option is to make a claim with your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist benefits. One important thing to know is that uninsured motorist benefits cannot exceed the amount of your primary coverage. For example, if you have $150,000 in coverage, you can only have up to $150,000 in uninsured benefits, period.
Who Do I Sue After an Accident: Related Resources
Need to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident? Get Legal Help Today
Being injured in a car accident is bad enough. Dealing with a runaround from the insurance companies can be even worse. If you have injuries and the other parties’ insurance company won’t pay up, you may need to bring a lawsuit against the driver. A great first step is to meet with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney near you.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.