Getting in a car accident makes life difficult. If you’ve been in a car accident, you must deal with the other driver, insurance companies, doctors, lawyers, and more, and often without the use of your damaged car. The stress of the accident and the complexity of the events that follow can leave you in a tough situation with large bills to pay. You may have to ask yourself when should you sue after a car accident in order to receive adequate compensation for your losses. But, deciding if you should sue someone for a car accident is never easy. Read on to help determine when you should sue the other driver in an accident.
When to Sue the Other Driver After a Car Accident
The question to sue or not is an important one. If you go through the standard insurance process, you may not recover all the money to cover your medical bills and other expenses. Also, if the other driver does not have proper car insurance, it could cause you, at no fault of your own, to foot the bill.
Although the car insurance companies have to represent the interests of their policy holders, these companies are also constantly thinking about their own bottom line. Insurance companies will often settle a car accident claim early to avoid additional expenses. So sometimes you might be better off suing the other driver in the car accident. Here’s how you can determine whether or not you should sue the other driver in a car accident, by following these 3 steps.
Step One: Document Everything
Both insurance claims and lawsuits can live or die off a single crucial element—evidence. Make sure to take pictures of the accident, copy documents related to bills from property damage, medical bills, etc., and total up any lost pay from time missed at work. Here’s more information about what to do if you are injured in a car accident.
Having this information is important in deciding whether to sue because it will give you an idea of how much harm you’ve received and how much money you should be able to collect.
Step Two: Get a Car Accident Lawyer
Whether you decide to settle things through an insurance claim, a lawsuit, or both, it is smart to have a car accident lawyer representing you. Lawyers know the law and they are experts at describing the facts in a clear and supportive manner. This gives you more leverage during negotiations and will help you recover the maximum amount.
Many attorneys often specialize in car accident disputes, so they will have a good idea how much the case is worth and the skills and experience to make sure you receive as much as possible. One other factor to think about is that car accident lawyers often represent clients on a contingency fee basis. This is good because the lawyer will not be paid until you are paid. They take a percentage of your verdict, but it is normally well worth the legal fees if you are able to recover more money to compensate your losses.
Because lawyers are so knowledgeable about their areas of expertise, they can provide valuable advice about whether to sue or follow through with the insurance claim. Check out this guide for how to choose the right injury attorney after a car accident.
Step Three: Decide if You Will Sue after a Car Accident or Not
Once you’ve collected all the evidence and consulted with a lawyer, the last step is to decide if you should sue the other driver or not. Here are the things you should think about.
You Can’t Always Trust the Insurance Companies
In general, car accident disputes are handled through both drivers’ insurance companies. The insurance companies are paid to represent the interests of their policy holder. But, these companies often don’t give their policy holders what they deserve.
The at-fault driver’s insurance will try to low-ball you and your insurance company in order to save as much money as possible. They will try to get away with whatever they can. Although your insurance company will advocate for you, it has a conflict of interest because it also wants to keep costs down and limit its own overhead. Insurance companies often settle early in order to save money, so keep that in mind before you make the decision.
Estimate Your Total Economic Damages
As discussed above, insurance companies will try to pay you as little as possible. If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2, you and your lawyer should have a good idea about the extent of your economic damages including property damages, medical expenses, missed work wages, etc.
The goal is to recover at least that amount, so if you are offered a claim settlement significantly lower than what you know you are owed, then you should sue the other driver to recover the difference. Here’s a post with more info about how much money you can recover in a car accident.
Consider Non-Economic Damages Too
Insurance policies often only include compensation for economic damages, meaning money spent or lost. Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of family relations, and even punitive damages if the other driver did something very unreasonable, are typically not paid out through insurance claims.
Recovery from these non-economic damages can bring you significant compensation if they are awarded. If you feel you’ve been significantly harmed in ways beyond just the financial losses, you should file a lawsuit and sue the other driver in the car accident.
The statute of limitations on car accident cases is usually one or two years. That means that if you don’t sue within 1-2 years of the accident, then you may lose your right to sue forever. So if you think there is even a chance that your insurance company will not compensate you enough, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible so you can get the case filed.
The statue of limitations deadline is much shorter practically speaking. Gathering facts and building a theory of the case and why you should receive a certain amount of damages takes a long time. If you plan to sue before the statute of limitation runs, you’ll likely need to work on those things for months before you actually file the lawsuit.
Don’t be caught off guard. If you are considering a lawsuit, sue the other driver now while the evidence is available and you are not in a time crunch from the statute of limitations.
When deciding when should you sue after a car accident, the most important thing to consider is the total amount of harm you have experienced. This harm includes economic losses, like the damage to your property, medical expenses, and lost wages. It also may include non-economic losses, such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
If you conclude that your insurance claim will not provide enough compensation to equal your total losses, you are better off suing the other driver in the car accident. Talk to a car accident lawyer to estimate your total damages and help you decide when should you sue after a car accident.
And always remember, whether you are suing or just filing a claim with an insurance company, these matters are stressful and complicated. Many attorneys specialize only in helping drivers receive justice after a car accident. If you need help, here you can find a good car accident lawyer.