It does not take long after a car accident to realize the immediate and long-term impacts, financial and otherwise, you have to deal with. You may have lost your vehicle in the accident or it may be temporarily inoperable due to significant damage. You may have suffered serious injuries, affecting your ability to work and earn a living, even as you have a flood of incoming medical bills. The unexpected costs of repairs to your property, missed work, and enormous medical expenses can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how you will meet your financial obligations.
So, how do you handle it all? You may wonder if you can sue for your damages after a car accident and how you would go about seeking compensation from the appropriate parties. In many cases you can, but keep in mind some important considerations when deciding whether or not to bring a lawsuit, or to seek compensation by alternative means. An attorney can help you figure this out in your specific case. But read on for more about how a car accident lawyer can bring a lawsuit for you after a car accident.
Have You Incurred a Loss or Injury Due to the Accident?
There are many ways an individual can seek compensation after a car accident. While filing a lawsuit is one way, a simpler option may be to simply file a claim through available insurance resources. But, either way, you will need to show that a party in the car accident harmed you due to their negligence or otherwise wrongful actions. A critically important piece to keep in mind is that you must produce evidence to prove you sustained some kind of damage from the car accident.
The primary purpose of a car accident claim or case is to compensate an accident victim for the damages they have suffered. To “compensate,” there needs to be a loss, which may also be referred to in legal terms as “damages.” Damages can be physical, financial, or emotional, but you must show you suffered some kind of harm from the accident to proceed with a compensation claim. If you have not suffered a loss of any kind, you cannot pursue compensation for an accident.
5 Common damages in a car accident include:
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Future medical bills or future lost income
Is a Lawsuit Your First Option After a Car Accident?
While some assume a lawsuit is the only option to fight for compensation after a car accident, car accident cases are, more often than not, resolved with a defendant’s insurer through a settlement, without having to take a case through the court system.
A car accident lawyer can advise you about your options and what the best course of action is in your case. But, oftentimes, filing a lawsuit immediately after a car accident is not your best option. It is always better to resolve your claim out of court if possible, especially because it is most often a much quicker process than taking a case through court. If a lawyer on your behalf can negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement with the insurance companies or at-fault parties in your case, you may not need to proceed through the tedious, complicated, and long process of suing them in court.
When Is a Lawsuit Necessary In a Car Accident Case?
There are situations in which a case must proceed to a lawsuit for a victim to recover the compensation they deserve. No two car accidents are the same, and the timeline and events for recovering compensation can be very different from case to case, depending on a host of factors. Most often, your attorney will first attempt to collect a settlement on your behalf by negotiating with a defendant and their insurer. But when the parties can’t reach a settlement agreement in these preliminary stages, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit and seek a court award of damages.
Common situations where a lawsuit can be necessary after a car accident include:
- The accident victim suffered catastrophic injuries, and thus the payout required to cover damages is significantly higher
- An insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement amount, either denying liability altogether or in large part
- The amount of damages surpasses the policy limits in effect
- The insurance company engages in bad faith behavior or unduly prolongs the claim process
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit for Car Accident Damages?
Immediately after a car accident, victims are typically focused on their physical recovery. However, it is in a victim’s best interest to get their claim in motion as soon after an accident as possible, for several reasons. For one, gathering evidence and tracking down witnesses needed to support your claim is much easier the closer in time you are to the accident. But, even more critically, your time to file a lawsuit is limited. Each state has a law referred to as a “statute of limitations,” which specifies the amount of time an injury victim has to file a lawsuit after an accident.
The Texas statute of limitations specifies that a car accident victim has just two years from the date an accident occurs to file a legal action against the party or parties responsible. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this deadline, you may forfeit your right to recover compensation for the losses you have sustained, regardless of fault or the extent of your injuries.
Should You Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself following a car accident is to contact an experienced car accident attorney. They will consult with you on the facts of your case and explain your options to seek compensation. To avoid delays, denials, or running out of time to file a lawsuit, it is best to contact a lawyer before you take any action by yourself on your car accident claim.
With the help of a professional car accident attorney, you can have the peace of mind that you have someone on your side who understands your rights and can guide you through each step of the way to recover the compensation you deserve.