Do You Have a Valid Car Accident Injury Claim?
If youve been involved in an auto accident, youll need to know if you have a valid car accident injury claim to determine whether it is worthwhile to sue the other driver.
It is important to contact your insurance company, the police, and/or the department of motor vehicles right away if you were injured in a car accident. The states vary in the time periods they allow traffic accident victims to report a crash. Not reporting your accident on time could limit your ability to collect compensation for your injuries and damages.
You may want to contact your insurance agent for more information regarding reporting-time obligations. In addition, some states require you to report the accident, even if you are not injured, if damages to the car are above a certain amount, say $1,000.
No-fault Insurance States Vary
If you live in a so-called no-fault state, you will not be able to sue the other driver unless your accident-related expenses are above a certain amount. No-fault means the insurance companies for each driver will pay for the costs of an accident to their own clients without having to prove the other guy was at fault.
States with no-fault insurance vary in the kinds of circumstances that will permit you to file a car accident injury claim, so check with your insurance agent to best understand your policy and state law in this area. In a no-fault state, if your damages and injuries are lower than the amount that would be allowed to go to trial, you would receive payment from your own insurance policy, regardless of who caused the accident, and that will be the end of the matter.
If you live in a fault state and you believe the other driver caused the accident, you may have recourse against the other driver. If your damages exceed the limits of the other drivers insurance policy, check with your insurance agent to see if your policy includes coverage against under-insured drivers. If it does, youll need to determine if it is sufficient to cover your needs arising out of this accident. If it is not, you have now come to the point where you need to decide to sue.
When to Make a Car Accident Injury Claim
Lets assume you can file a lawsuit against the other driver. Should you? Every personal injury case, also called a tort, involves two basic issues: liability and damages. Can you prove you were damaged and can you prove the other driver, or defendant is to blame?
On the roadways, drivers are expected to exercise reasonable care in controlling their vehicles. So to prove the other driver caused the accident, you need to show that:
- The other driver had a legal duty to use care
- The other driver violated that duty
- There is a direct relationship between the accident and the injury
What is a Duty to Use Care?
Someone showing that they exercise reasonable care in the handling of their vehicle would:
- Operate the vehicle at a safe rate of speed
- Keep the vehicle under control while driving
- Be on the lookout for all situations and hazards that could lead to an accident
Your personal injury attorney will examine the facts of your accident and can help you decide if you would prevail with a car accident injury claim in court.
If the circumstances of the auto accident are not in dispute, your personal injury claim may be resolved with a settlement offer from the other drivers insurance. It is up to you to determine whether the settlement offer compensates you enough for your medical expenses and car repairs.
In general, insurance policies do not pay for non-economic damages, such as a pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of spousal companionship. If you want to be compensated for these losses after a car accident, you will have to proceed with the lawsuit.
Very few car accident injury claims go all the way to trial. The other driver, through his or her lawyer, may make several settlement offers throughout the process, including up until the point a jury announces a decision.