It’s a story we hear commonly: You’ve been involved in a car accident, and the other driver either wasn’t insured or the insurance company resists covering your losses. What is the next step? How do you sue after such an event?
Emotions naturally run high after an accident, especially when it looks like you’ll have to foot the bill. However, it’s important to follow a step-by-step process before simply filing suit. If you don’t have a legitimate claim or haven’t taken the steps to prove it – or if you attempt to prove the case yourself without a qualified attorney –
your suit could be thrown out of court, and you’d be paying court costs and fees in addition to what you’re paying out of pocket for the accident itself. That’s adding insult to injury.
For that reason, before suing someone after a car accident, you need to take the following steps to ensure you have a good case and to improve your chances of success in court.
We mean everything.
From the moment the collision occurs, before you even know whether a lawsuit is necessary, you should be gathering information and documentation, from snapping photos of the accident scene and the damage to getting copies of the police reports. Save every repair estimate, every auto shop bill, every medical bill and every payment receipt related to the accident. Anything and everything that demonstrates that you suffered loss becomes evidence if you file suit.
Determine whether the other party is liable (at fault).
One of the first things insurance companies do with car accident claims is determine who is at fault, based on police reports, witness accounts and damage. Sometimes the fault is assessed to both parties as a percentage, and the insurance will pay proportionate to the amount of fault – although sometimes insurance companies use this tactic unscrupulously to avoid paying. To have a legitimate claim, you must be able to show that the other party was at fault.
Determine whether negligence played a role.
Essentially, if you sue someone after a car accident, you’re claiming that person isn’t just “at fault,” but was also negligent. Theoretically, when the other driver is at fault, that’s when their insurance pays the claim. However, if the insurance refuses to pay some or all of the claim, or if the driver wasn’t carrying adequate insurance, this may be considered negligence. Other types of negligence might include driving an unsafe vehicle, driving while intoxicated
Hire an experienced accident attorney.
If you find that insurance won’t cover the bills and there is just cause to claim negligence, you need a good attorney to handle your case and represent your interests. Your attorney will help you determine the amount of your claim, which includes the unpaid portion of your documented expenses, plus court costs, attorney fees and other damages. Even with an “open and shut case,” having an experienced attorney gives you the best chance of winning your lawsuit.
At Sutton Slover
, personal injury law is all we do. We’ll evaluate your case for free, and if we take the case, we don’t get paid unless you do. For more information about suing after a car accident, call our office at 404.768.0292