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When Should You Sue Over a Car Accident Injury?

If you have been in a car accident, injury-related medical expenses and auto repairs may be expensive. But should you sue the other driver?

If you want to preserve the option to sue, you need to know the laws in your state and the provisions in your insurance policy. Contact your insurance agent to learn the precise steps you must take in order to receive injury compensation for your car accident.

In general, youll need to report the car accident and any resulting injury to the police and/or state department of motor vehicles, as well as to your insurance company, in a timely matter. If you miss the deadlines, you may give up your right to sue.

No-Fault Auto Insurance States

If you live in a no-fault automobile insurance state, then after a car accident, you must seek injury compensation from your own insurance company. In no-fault states, insurance companies pay only for their clients damages, and no one has to prove that anyone else's risky behavior caused the accident. However, many no-fault states allow you to sue the other driver if your policy limits do not fully cover your losses.

If youre in a fault state, you need to check with your insurance agent to see if your policy carries under-insured motorist coverage to cover the losses beyond the limits of the other drivers insurance policy. If it does, then youll need to figure out if it is enough to cover your accident-related expenses.

Most insurance policies will only cover your economic losses, such as your actual medical expenses and auto repair costs. Loss of wages is also considered an economic loss. They generally do not cover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, compensation for emotional distress, and loss of spousal companionship. The only way to recover for those losses is by lawsuit.

When to Make a Car Accident Injury Claim

Just because you can sue does not mean you should. Every personal injury case, also called a tort, involves two basic issues: Liability and damages. You should continue with a lawsuit if you can you prove you were damaged and can prove the other driver, or defendant, is to blame.

To prove that the other driver is at fault, you have to show that he or she did not demonstrate reasonable care in controlling his vehicle, which is the laws expectation of all drivers on the road. To be successful with a car accident lawsuit, you need to show that the other driver violated his or her duty to use care and, as a result, caused the accident.

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 attorney will examine the circumstances surrounding your accident and can help you decide if you would prevail with a car accident injury claim.

Your personal injury claim may be paid by the other drivers insurance company if it also finds the client did not act with reasonable care. If this settlement offer is acceptable to you, your case ends here.

Very few car accident injury claims go to trial. Your lawyer can advise you on whether a settlement offer is a good one, based on the facts of your case, but only you can decide whether to accept or reject the settlement offer.