Any time you suffer injuries in a car accident, you may wonder how to best obtain compensation for those injuries. You may end up with substantial medical costs, long-term wage losses, and other expenses related to your accident. You may know that the other party bears liability for those injuries. However, many people get stuck there. Can you sue for damages after a car accident? How can you make sure that you get the compensation you deserve? The best thing you can do after being injured in a car accident is to contact an experienced car accident lawyer near you.
After a Car Accident: Pursuing Compensation
After a car accident, you have the right to pursue compensation when someone else’s negligence causes the accident. That can include various liable parties, depending on how the accident occurred.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
In most cases, you will start your quest for compensation by filing a claim with the liable driver’s insurance company. Many car accidents involve relatively straightforward liability. You may know that the other driver caused the car accident and that you must pursue compensation from that driver’s insurance company.
Before you start your claim, however, you may want to talk to a lawyer about your rights. Many insurance companies will not make the claim process easy. You may find yourself fighting to get reasonable compensation for the injuries you suffered and damages you sustained in the accident. Often, the insurance company will utilize tactics designed to reduce the compensation you can recover after your car accident. By working with a lawyer, you can more easily navigate those tactics and get a better idea of the compensation you deserve for your injuries—and how to get it.
Suing a Business That Caused or Contributed to Your Accident
In some cases, you may discover that you have the right to claim compensation from a business that contributed to your accident. Often, that will mean filing a claim against the company’s business insurance, which may provide compensation for any act of negligence caused by the company or its employees.
You may have the right to pursue compensation from the business directly when the business or its employees commit an act of negligence that increases the risk of an accident, including:
- Dangerous policies increase the risk of accidents, like putting delivery drivers on tight deadlines.
- Failing to properly monitor drivers to ensure that they do not regularly engage in dangerous behavior out on the road.
- Ignoring needed maintenance on company vehicles and increasing the risk of an accident due to poor repairs or needed care.
- Failing to provide drivers with the training they need to navigate the challenges they will most likely face on the road.
Sometimes, however, the business may not have insurance or may not have coverage for car accidents caused by its drivers. In those cases, you may need to sue the business directly.
When dealing with a car insurance claim against the liable driver’s insurance company, you may want to pursue compensation through a lawyer. If you attempt to pursue compensation for your damages on your own, the insurance company could make it unnecessarily difficult for you to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Big companies often work with big-name insurance providers, which may have extensive legal teams dedicated to reducing the compensation the business has to pay out in the event of an accident. A lawyer can help you fight for the compensation you really deserve when you need to file a claim against the liable party.
Suing the Vehicle Manufacturer
Faulty vehicles or vehicle parts may contribute heavily to the risk of an accident. Each year, the United States sees tens of millions of vehicle recalls. Recalls generally occur because the error in manufacturing or producing the vehicle leads to some type of danger to the vehicle occupants or others who share the road with those vehicles. Before the vehicle actually gets recalled, however, those defects may end up causing considerable damage to many people.
Filing a claim against a vehicle manufacturer can quickly turn complicated. You may need to seek compensation for the damages you sustained, but the vehicle manufacturer may attempt to show that damage to the vehicle could not have contributed to the accident or that the accident did not occur because of manufacturer error.
The vehicle manufacturer will generally have an extensive legal team that will fight back against any claim you might file. By working with a lawyer, you ensure that you have the same resources on your side and that the manufacturer will take you seriously as you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Suing the Liable Party Directly
Most of the time, when you pursue compensation for a car accident, you will go through the insurance company that covers the liable party. Those insurance policies exist to help protect anyone injured by the negligence of the vehicle owner, driver, or manufacturer. However, in some cases, you may need to pursue compensation from the driver who caused your accident directly.
An estimated 12.6 percent of drivers do not carry auto insurance. That rate may vary significantly by state. Drivers may choose not to carry insurance for a variety of reasons. When drivers without insurance cause an accident, however, it can cause devastating losses to the injured party.
Some injured drivers may choose to sue the liable driver directly for the damages they sustained because of the accident. When you do need to sue a driver that caused your accident directly, working with a lawyer can prove essential to ensuring that you handle the process correctly, maximizing the odds that you will recover the compensation you deserve for those damages.
What Happens When You File a Car Accident Claim?
You suffered damages in a car accident, including, in many cases, serious injuries related to the negligence of the driver. Now what?
Step One: Contact a Lawyer
If you have filed a car accident claim for damages to your vehicle in the past, you may assume that you should follow the same process to pursue compensation for a car accident involving an injury. However, car accident claims can prove complicated. Instead of contacting the insurance company yourself after the accident, get in touch with a lawyer.
A lawyer can:
- Make sure you understand your rights following a car accident. Often, a car accident claim will involve significant damages, including damages you may not think about when considering your compensation claim. A lawyer can make sure you go through those damages and come up with a real look at the compensation you should receive after the accident.
- Collect evidence related to your accident. Sometimes, the insurance company may try to put the liability for the accident on your shoulders rather than simply accepting the negligence of its driver. An attorney can help collect the evidence you need to establish liability. In addition, an attorney can help collect evidence that establishes whether another party may also bear liability for the accident or the injuries you sustained and build a claim against each party that contributed to your accident.
- Represent you to the insurance company. Your attorney can help deal with the insurance company on your behalf, often improving the outcome of your case.
Step Two: Investigation
Your lawyer will thoroughly investigate all the elements of your car accident. Sometimes, that might mean a relatively straightforward investigation, especially if the liable party accepts liability for the accident upfront. In other cases, you may be waiting on an extensive investigation process.
The lawyer may want to:
- Talk to any witnesses from the car accident. Witnesses may offer a better perspective of what likely contributed to the car accident, including factors you may not have noticed. However, witness memory may fade quickly after the accident, so your lawyer may want to talk to those witnesses as soon as possible.
- Review video footage from the accident. Your lawyer may want to look at dashcam footage or evaluate footage from nearby security cameras. Traffic camera footage may also offer a look at what led to the accident.
- Look at the policies held by a driver’s employer in cases where the driver’s employer may have contributed to the accident.
- Bring in an expert witness to look at the vehicle damage and reconstruct the accident’s potential cause. An expert witness can often piece together what factors contributed to the car accident to better understand how the collision occurred.
In addition to investigating the accident, your lawyer will work with you to get a comprehensive picture of your injuries. This includes the medical bills you may have to pay to the long-term limitations you will likely have to deal with after your accident. Your injuries will serve as the foundation of your accident claim. Without a clear report of what injuries you sustained, your lawyer will struggle to lay out the damages you deserve.
Step Three: Demand Package
After taking a comprehensive look at the damages you sustained due to the accident, including your ongoing medical costs, your wage losses, and your pain and suffering, your lawyer will put together a comprehensive demand package that lays out those losses and the compensation you expect for your injuries. That package will include proof of liability for the accident and a look at what you lost because of the accident.
Step Four: Negotiation
When the insurance company receives the demand package, the company has a couple of options. First, it can accept your demands and write a check that compensates you for the full extent of the damages you suffered. Most insurance companies, however, will go with option two: negotiation.
The insurance company generally does not want to pay more compensation than necessary following an accident. To help reduce the amount it has to pay out, the company’s agents will often offer a much lower settlement than the one you asked for. That settlement may contain some of the damages you claimed from the accident but may not include a comprehensive accounting of everything you lost due to the other driver’s negligence.
You then get to respond to the insurance company’s altered offer: either accepting it and ending the claim or continuing to negotiate. Most car accident claims will involve several rounds of negotiation as you work to increase the compensation you can recover as much as possible, and the insurance company works to reduce it. When you accept an offer, it ends your claim.
Step Five: Mediation
Sometimes, you and the insurance company will not come to an agreement through negotiation. You may start very far apart, or the insurance company may not want to accept liability for the accident. As a result, you may find yourself fighting to get the compensation you deserve.
If you cannot reach an agreement through negotiation, you may have one last option before going to court: mediation. During mediation, you will sit with your lawyer and representatives from the insurance company and present your case to the mediator. The mediator will offer an idea of what the court will likely rule on the case and give you and the insurance company or liable party a final chance to agree.
Step Six: Court
If you and the liable party cannot agree through mediation, you will end up in court, presenting your case. Your lawyer can help present your claim in the courtroom, presenting the information about your accident in a way that will increase your odds of recovering reasonable compensation for your injuries. Once the court rules on your claim, it generally ends the process, and the insurance company will have a set period to issue a check for the damages you sustained.
Contact a Lawyer for Help With Your Car Accident Claim
Understanding the details of a car accident claim can prove difficult. Contact a car accident lawyer to learn more about your rights and how to claim compensation for your injuries.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.