Car accident lawsuits can often bring substantial compensation. However, unfortunately, people often fail to speak up and take legal action after suffering damages in an accident caused by someone else. It is one of the few situations in which those needing compensation fail to come forward and claim the money owed to them.
One of the main reasons car accident victims do not take the time to speak with a car accident lawyer is that they do not fully understand the process. After all, suing someone can sound complicated, expensive, and unpleasant to those unfamiliar with the legal process.
So if you have suffered a car accident, understanding how compensation works and who pays for the damage can shed light on the process. This way, you can best prepare yourself and be ready to come forward and claim the money owed to you after a careless driver causes harm.
What Happens if I Sue the Other Driver?
Usually, car accidents that lead to significant damage often result in lawsuits. Life-altering injuries, extensive medical bills, and wrongful death are the most common reasons car accident claims end up in court.
But even when you sustain significant injuries due to another driver’s negligence, you might hesitate to consider legal action. After all, the thought of suing a person might sound like it will lead to bankruptcy or other financially ruinous outcomes for their family.
However, it is very rare to directly sue another driver in a car accident. Most of the time, the other driver does not personally own enough assets to compensate you for your losses. This fact means that taking an individual driver to court is likely pointless since they cannot pay you what they do not have. It is often unnecessary to sue, but if a lawsuit is needed, you will most likely take an insurance company to court—not an individual.
Of course, these for-profit corporations put up a good fight, but they can certainly afford to cover the costs of your injuries without suffering financial harm. You will, however, need the services of a reputable car accident lawyer if you hope to recover the compensation you deserve.
How Does a Lawyer Prepare to Sue an Insurance Company?
A car accident lawyer’s first job is identifying which party was liable for the accident. However, this process is not always as easy as it sounds.
After all, no two car accidents are alike. Some are straightforward, while others can become quite complicated. Of course, when a speeding driver runs a red light and crashes into you, it is easy enough to build a case proving negligence.
Often, plenty of witness testimony and camera footage can support your case. And once your lawyer collects this evidence, they can prove that the driver acted negligently by speeding and failing to stop at the light, establishing liability. In other cases, finding the evidence necessary to prove that the other driver was at fault can be difficult.
Every car accident case follows this process—once you prove negligence, the other party is liable (or responsible) for paying for the damage. Again, this does not mean the other driver is personally responsible for paying; their insurance is.
Suing the Other Driver’s Insurer
Typically, to sue the other driver’s insurance company, your car accident lawyer will:
- Build a case showing liability
- Collect evidence proving your damage
- Identify a target compensation goal
- Negotiate with the responsible insurance company
Negotiating a fair settlement with an insurance company is typically the most challenging part of seeking negotiation. After all, insurance companies are for-profit businesses, meaning paying out for accident claims causes them to lose revenue.
This fact means that the other driver’s insurer will work hard to minimize the amount they pay. They may draw out negotiations, refusing to raise their offer to an amount that fairly compensates you. Other times, they might argue that the other driver caused the injury.
If your lawyer cannot convince the other driver’s insurance company to settle for a fair amount, they will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Suing an insurance company makes the process of gaining compensation much longer, but sometimes, going to court for a verdict is the only option for recovering adequate compensation.
Can I Sue My Own Car Insurance Company?
Sometimes, suing the other driver’s insurance company will not provide you the compensation you need. This most often happens in two cases: the other driver does not have insurance, or their policy limits are insufficient to cover the damage.
To clarify, every driver’s insurance policy comes with policy limits. Each state sets an insurance minimum, which guarantees the minimum compensation available if an accident occurs.
For example, in Florida, the minimum coverage required by law is $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability insurance. Of course, insurance companies offer different policies, and drivers willing to pay a higher premium can benefit from much larger policy limits.
However, a court cannot force an insurance company to pay more than the policy limit on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
When the other driver is uninsured or has a restrictive policy limit that cannot pay you the compensation you need, you might sue your own insurance company. In this case, your car accident lawyer will follow the same process as in any accident claim they will collect the evidence backing your claim and attempt to negotiate with your insurer.
That said, it is less common to sue your own insurance company. But in some cases, this route is a possible option for gaining the compensation you need to cover your losses. Your success will depend on several factors, such as whether you recover money from the other driver’s insurance company, the type of coverage your driver’s insurance policy carries, and other details specific to your accident and policy.
Suing a Third Insurance Company in a Car Accident Case
Another situation that can occur is when multiple insurance policies cover one driver. This is common in employees and independent contractors that drive for work.
Some of the most common examples include:
- Truck drivers
- Rideshare service drivers
- Taxi drivers
- Delivery drivers
- Skilled trade workers
For example, when an accident involves an employee driving a company truck or an Uber driver transporting a passenger, the compensation process automatically becomes more complicated.
Ideally, the company’s insurance will cover the accident when the driver is an employee working on the clock. Most states require companies to purchase insurance for their vehicles and the workers who drive them.
When the at-fault driver is a contractor, compensation is first sought through their personal driver’s insurance policy. If your damages surpass their policy limits, the company’s policy should kick in and cover the difference.
However, accidents involving a worker can easily become complicated. For example, rideshare companies fight back harder and offer lower coverage limits based on whether a driver is waiting for work, has accepted a ride, or has a passenger in the vehicle.
Similarly, when a worker has broken company policies or the law (like driving under the influence or using the company vehicle while off the clock), proving that the company’s policy should cover the accident can be challenging.
Liability Complications in a Car Accident
Not all car accident cases are cut and dry. Some accidents involve more than just two drivers and two insurance policies, such as in cases of multiple drivers or passenger injuries.
In the first case, car accidents that involve more than two drivers are naturally more complex. When there are more drivers to point the finger at, car insurance companies will fight harder to try to prove that one of the other drivers was at fault.
In some cases, both of the other drivers may be at fault. When this happens, you may need to file claims with both of the other drivers’ insurance companies. This naturally leads to a more complicated legal situation with a complex negotiation process.
Other situations can also lead to complications with car accident liability. For example, sometimes, the injured person seeking compensation was not driving. In these cases, an injured passenger or pedestrian may need to sue the insurance company of both drivers, especially if identifying fault is complicated or the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits do not cover the damage.
Will I Need to Sue to Gain Compensation?
You may not need to sue to gain the compensation you need after a car accident. Lawsuits are expensive, and as much as insurance companies hate paying out, they will often cave to pressure to avoid paying for an expensive lawsuit.
After all, the price of an ongoing legal battle will usually cost the insurance company more than simply settling. However, the legal team of an insurance company will work hard to make you think that settling for their first offer is your best option.
Another reason many claims settle out of court is that taking a case to court can be risky for both sides. For this reason, an inexperienced car accident lawyer might recommend that you accept an insurance company’s offer even if success in court could leave you with much more compensation.
Less-experienced lawyers often do this because they worry about their own pay. After all, car accident lawyers usually work on contingency. This means that instead of taking payment up front for a set rate, they charge you a percentage of the overall amount they win for you—and they only get paid if they are successful.
Going to court means a lawyer risks losing the verdict and not getting paid for all the work they have put into your case.
Therefore, car accident victims should do their due diligence and find an experienced, reputable car accident lawyer. Choose a lawyer with trial experience and a track record of gaining successful court verdicts. This way, you will know that you can trust your lawyer to take your case to court and win if that is the best way to maximize your compensation.
Legal Time Limits for Suing After a Car Accident
You only have a certain amount of time to take legal action after a car accident. Therefore, involving a lawyer from the start is the best way to protect yourself.
A lawyer will ensure that any evidence proving the other driver’s negligence is preserved. They will also communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf, which protects you from saying something they can use against you to try to prove that you were responsible for the accident.
While it takes time for a lawyer to build a case and undergo negotiations, your state places a time limit on filing suit. Therefore, contact a lawyer immediately after your accident so they have the time they need to take your case to court.
Do Not Wait to Consult a Car Accident Lawyer
Car accident claims can unfold in many different ways, especially when a case involves complications. Most of the time, your compensation comes directly from the other driver’s insurance company. Suing is often necessary to gain fair compensation after a car accident, but a skilled trial lawyer will not shy away from taking a case to court if they need to. They will be able to navigate the complicated legal issues that surround your case and help you win maximum compensation.
The best way to protect your finances after a crash is to call an experienced lawyer immediately. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing an experienced legal professional is doing everything in their power to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.