- August 29, 2017
Who Do You Sue If You Are in an Accident?
Car accident laws are specific to the state you live in. If you are in an accident and you have to sue to recover for damages, there are steps that need to be taken. When in a car accident, it isn’t always clear who is at fault and responsible for costs. That is why, in some instances, a driver might have to get involved in a lawsuit to settle their damage and property claims.
If you are injured in a car accident with another vehicle and incurred property damage or injuries, you might be asking yourself whether you have to sue the driver or the insurance company. If the driver was insured at the time of the collision, in most cases, the injured driver must file a claim with the insurance company, and from there, the specifics are negotiated. There is typically no need to pursue litigation. But, if you get into a situation where you can’t find resolution with the insurance company or the other driver was without insurance, it might have to be escalated to a lawsuit.
So, who you have to sue if you are in an accident and injured or your property was damaged? The answer is, it depends on the other driver’s insurance coverage or whether they had insurance at all.
Steps to Determine Liability
The first step is to determine who is at fault or “liable” for the accident. If you are at fault for the accident, then you will have no grounds to sue either the other driver’s insurance company or the other driver. It would be your responsibility to pay for the damages if you were the cause of the accident. There are times when both parties are partially at fault, which makes it more difficult to determine who pays for what damages and injuries. If you are only partially at fault, finding a lawyer to help you sort through the logistics of liability is important to protect yourself.
California is a comparative negligence state. That means that the drivers are assigned a percentage of fault, and they are then liable for whatever percent was their fault. That is why it is so important to determine the amount of liability that each driver assumes before proceeding with any lawsuit or claim.
It is always best to try to negotiate with the insurance company when possible. Negotiating a fair compensation package will save you from paying a car accident lawyer Irvine to represent you in court. It is never good, however, to take a settlement without the advice from a lawyer who specializes in car accidents. Once you sign a settlement, you are no longer entitled to more money, even if more injuries or damages are found after the fact.
There are also cases where the amount of damages that you are entitled to exceed the amount that the driver was legally insured for. California is one of the few states that does not have a no-fault insurance option. That means that if the amount of medical damages exceeds what the insured was covered for, it is possible for the injured individual to sue the “at-fault” driver for the remaining amount owed. Therefore, if you have negotiated a price with the insurance company and it is still not enough to cover your damages, then you might have to sue the other driver for the rest of the expenses.
If the at-fault driver wasn’t carrying the minimum insurance coverage mandatory, then you can do one of two things. One option is to sue the driver personally. This is usually a losing proposition. In most cases, the reason someone doesn’t cover insurance is that they can’t afford it. Your other option is to file a claim with your insurance company under uninsured motorist coverage. The limitation is that you can’t collect more than whatever money you are insured for yourself.
The best thing you can hope for when in an accident is that who is at fault can be clearly assigned and that you can reach a fair settlement with the insurance company. But, if you aren’t getting the resolution you deserve, then it might be a good idea to hire an accident attorney to initiate a lawsuit to recover for your damages.