After being involved in a car crash where you sustain personal injuries, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the responsible party for monetary damages. The process of filing a claim with your car insurance company is the same as it is for minor fender benders.
However, the difference with accidents where injuries occur is your need to receive compensation for medical expenses and treatment, property damage, loss of earnings, and other financial impacts. To this end, rather than claiming your injuries against your own auto insurance, you might consider suing the other driver or their insurance company.
If you are considering suing after a car crash, you may wonder how to proceed, and who to sue for compensation. You will have different options based on your situation and the state where the accident occurred.
Who Can You Sue After a Car Accident?
In general, you can sue the party who was responsible for your injuries and property damage. Some states are “no fault” states for the purposes of car insurance. If you live in one of these, your own auto insurance company is required to pay for your medical expenses and car repairs.
In the state of Texas, you can file a lawsuit against the other driver if they are at fault for an auto accident1 or if they do not have adequate insurance coverage. You are not allowed to sue the insurance company directly, even though they will be the ones to pay a settlement or award for compensation.
Determining Who Is at Fault
Emotions run high following a serious accident, and you may need legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine who is likely to be considered at fault and to what extent. Did the other driver run a red light or fail to yield the right-of-way? If so, then they may be held 100% at fault.
However, if you were speeding or changing lanes without checking your blind spot, you could be held partially at fault for the car accident. In Texas car accident lawsuits, the amount of damages awarded can be reduced if you contributed to the accident. This is referred to as the modified comparative negligence rule, but, if you were 49% or less responsible, you can still seek damages at a reduced rate.
Most of the time when you sue after a car accident, it will be against the other driver, but there may be other individuals who are liable for your injuries. One example might be if the accident was caused by improper service at a repair shop, causing the brakes or steering to fail.
If someone was negligent in causing an accident, the laws of their state will determine if the model used to award damages is contributory, comparative, or modified comparative negligence. In states that follow the contributory negligence model, you may not receive compensation if you are even 1% at fault. In Texas, your award would be modified based on the percentage you may have been liable.
Should You Settle or Should You Sue?
Most accident injury lawsuits never go to trial. Instead, they are settled out of court. Settlements are acceptable when the insurance company is offering a fair and just amount that will cover your medical bills and other long-term expenses. Your personal injury attorney can help you review any settlement offer received and compare it to the estimated value of your case.
Very often, the insurance company’s settlement offer will be incomplete and not take into account things like loss of earning potential, loss of consortium, or pain and suffering, leaving you no choice but to counteroffer or file a lawsuit. You may also need to sue an uninsured motorist who has no insurance company to settle the claim.
Will You Need a Car Accident Attorney?
There are several reasons to take advantage of a free consultation with a physical injury attorney. Your lawyer will help you decide which path to compensation is most likely to succeed and whether or not to accept an offered settlement.
Your attorney will:
- Gather evidence.
- Review settlement agreements.
- Negotiate on your behalf.
- Engage expert witnesses.
- Help you receive the full compensation you need and deserve.
In Texas, you can sue the other driver in Justice Court if you are requesting less than $10,000.1 However, in cases of serious injuries and your car being totaled, this amount is unlikely to be enough to cover your immediate losses.
Due to the complexities of auto accident liability laws in Texas and the fact that an insurance company will want you to give up your right to file a claim if you accept a low settlement offer, it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney right away. To schedule a free consultation with one of our car accident lawyers, please call Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers at 713-364-0723 today!