Auto Accident Lawsuit Guide 2023: If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, you may need to file a car accident lawsuit. Before filing a personal injury claim, it is critical to understand your rights, the legal requirements, and the timelines of an auto accident lawsuit to ensure you receive fair and complete compensation for property and personal damages.
If you are seeking compensation after a car accident, here is what you need to know before deciding whether to settle or sue.
Auto Accident Lawsuit Filing Deadline
Each state has different laws and deadlines for initiating legal proceedings following a car accident. This is known as the statute of limitations, which is the maximum amount of time that parties involved have to go to court and begin the lawsuit process. Spending on your state’s laws could take between one and six years.
The deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit differs from the deadline for filing a claim with your insurance or the insurance of a third party for the accident. The majority of policies require you to file a claim within a reasonable time frame. For more information on your policy’s requirements, contact your insurance company.
Also Read: Cycling benefits, for health and fitness
Deciding Whether to File an Auto Accident Lawsuit
Many auto accident lawsuits are settled before a lawsuit is even filed, and the majority of them are settled before a court trial.
Before filing a lawsuit, there is usually an opportunity to settle the claim. This can be beneficial in order to avoid high legal fees, the stress and time required to pursue a trial, as well as the risk of losing. However, if there are disagreements over key evidence, such as determining who was at fault or the extent of a claimant’s injuries, it may be necessary to go to court.
Many states have at-fault laws, which mean that the person whose negligence caused the accident must pay for the damages. No-fault laws exist in twelve states, which means that your own insurance must cover your injuries regardless of who is at fault. However, in some cases, you may need to sue one or more of the at-fault parties in the car accident.
You may receive a lowball settlement offer that does not cover the full extent of your property and personal damages. The offer may not take into account your actual and projected long-term medical expenses. If the accident resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one, you may be required to file a lawsuit.
If you are thinking about accepting a settlement or filing a lawsuit, you should seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and help you get the best possible outcome.
Auto Accident Lawsuit Guide 2023
Potential Car Accident Lawsuit Damages
- Property damages
- Medical expenses
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Loss of companionship or affection for your spouse
- Punitive damages from negligent behavior, such as driving while intoxicated or distracted driving
Auto Accident Settlement and Lawsuit Timeline
Before going to court, your insurance company will attempt to settle the damages with the other parties involved. You or your lawyer can contact the other party’s insurer, who will most likely attempt to settle the claim.
Get the terms and details in writing before accepting a settlement. Take the time to read and comprehend it, as well as to ask questions and conduct research to ensure that it is fair. Add up the value of your vehicle’s and the injuries damaged, and ask your medical care provider about future medical expenses or limitations. Any settlement offer should be reviewed by an attorney who can assess the value of components such as lost wages and pain and suffering.
Receiving a settlement does not always mean that all claims have been resolved; therefore, if you anticipate future expenses that have not yet been determined or covered by proposed settlement fees, make sure the other party’s terms are not a full and final settlement. For example, you have the option of settling your property claim first, followed by your medical claim.
You can agree to the insurer’s terms and receive compensation in exchange for agreeing not to sue. If you are unable to reach an agreement on terms, you may decide to sue in order to obtain the maximum amount of compensation.
Starting a Car Accident Lawsuit
A car accident case can last anywhere from several months to several years from start to finish. The length of the process is determined by factors such as each party’s litigation strategy and the willingness of either side to reach a settlement, which could occur at any time during the process.
Civil suits, also known as civil actions, are lawsuits filed to seek restitution for losses incurred as a result of a car accident. Civil suit rules vary by state, but the same format is used.
First, the party initiating the lawsuit, known as the plaintiff, files a petition or complaint in court. The responding party, the defendant, responds and also files documents with the court.
Auto Accident Lawsuit Guide 2023
Looking To Speak With an Accident Lawyer? Find One Near You
Get Your Free Consultation From a Lawyer Near You.
Filing a Car Accident Counterclaim
Regardless of who was at fault in a car accident, it is likely that more than one party involved left the scene with injuries or damages. Even if one party files a lawsuit first, the other party may still be able to recover individual damages incurred as a result of the collision by filing a counterclaim.
If a claim is made against you, you may respond, answer, and defend against it while also filing a counterclaim to recover damages for your injuries, property, emotional harm, and other losses.
Discovery in a Car Accident Lawsuit
The discovery stage of the lawsuit allows both parties to exchange information and evidence related to their claims and defences. This is likely the most time-consuming phase of the lawsuit, as it requires legal teams from both the plaintiff and the defendant to collect and review all documentation related to the accident, such as photographs from the scene, police reports, witness statements, medical records, medical bills, and more.
During discovery, either or both parties may request interrogatories, which are a list of 30 or so written questions sent from one party to another and must be answered under oath and within a strict deadline.
Depositions in Car Accident Cases
Depositions may be taken as part of the discovery process as well. Depositions are another method of gathering information about a car accident case in which an attorney may ask a series of oral questions to any party who has relevant information about the lawsuit. Depositions may be taken from the drivers and passengers involved in the crash, as well as witnesses, investigating police officers, medical personnel who treated those involved in the crash, and others.
Car Accidents and Police Reports
A police report is typically written at the scene of a car accident by a responding officer. This vital piece of evidence contains a summary of the incident, evidence and facts gathered at the scene, statements from individuals involved in the crash, witness statements, and other important information gathered by the officer while conducting the investigation.
The police report will be used as evidence by the insurance companies and attorneys involved in your case to determine who is at fault and what damages you may be entitled to recover. It is crucial evidence both during the discovery phase and at trial.
You may not be aware of the extent of your injuries when providing your account of the accident for the police report, especially if you are in shock. Some soft tissue neck and back injuries can be masked by adrenaline at the time of the accident, and you may not feel as well later if you feel fine at the time of the accident.
Rather than making an on-the-record statement that you are not injured, speak in the present tense so that you do not preclude later detection of undetected accident-related injuries or pain, which could complicate your claim.
Auto Accident Settlements
A settlement can happen at any time, but in car accident cases, it usually happens after discovery is finished. This is frequently the result of one side learning or revealing critical information that could potentially decide the case and help both sides avoid uncertain trial outcomes.
By filing a motion for summary judgment, a party can try to win a case before it goes to trial. In this case, the party filing the motion asserts all of the evidence in their favor, compares it to the evidence of the opposing party, and argues that the undisputed facts and law make it impossible for the opposing party to win the case if it went to trial. A judge makes the final decision on a summary judgment. If the case does not settle during this stage, it will be tried.
What To Expect When a Car Accident Case Goes to Trial
A car accident trial typically lasts one or two days, though there is no set time limit. These cases may be heard by a single judge, referred to as a bench trial, or by a jury. In some states, a jury trial must be requested when the initial lawsuit complaint is filed. After all of the evidence has been presented, the jury or judge makes a decision in the case.
If one of the parties is dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial, they may file an appeal. There are various levels of appeals, many of which are time-consuming and costly for all parties involved. A party may use an appeal to coerce the other party into accepting a settlement that is less than what they expect to win at trial.
Additional litigation steps can add months or years to the length of a car accident case.
Types of Car Accident Lawsuit Compensation
A car accident lawsuit may contain a number of different claims, each of which is related to the damages and injuries suffered by each party. Each claim’s settlement amount will differ depending on the severity of the case and the impact on the parties involved.
A fair settlement should include a sum for any long-term damage that covers an assessment of anticipated long-term, future needs if you have been injured in a car accident. This could include ongoing physical therapy, therapeutic massage, or other types of therapy that are related to the victim’s physical and emotional state. You may also seek compensation for any loss or limitation of use that interferes with your daily functioning or quality of life.
Car Accident Lawsuit Values
The amount of your settlement from a car accident will vary depending on the severity of the damages and injuries sustained. The higher the payout, the greater the extent of the injuries sustained.
Mild to moderate soft tissue injuries in the neck or back can be more difficult to prove than cases with clear medical evidence, such as a broken bone, or cases that require surgery.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the average settlement for a mild to moderate case of whiplash, a common neck injury in car accidents, could range from $2,500 to $100,000. More serious injuries could result in a $5 million settlement. However, no two cases are alike, so discuss the specifics of your case with your attorney.
Auto Accident Lawsuit Guide 2023
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Will my car accident claim end in a settlement?
2. How much is a car accident lawsuit worth?
While predicting the amount of compensation you may receive following an auto accident settlement or verdict is nearly impossible, you should expect your property and physical damages to be covered.
These include property damage, such as vehicle repairs or replacement, as well as any medical bills and long-term medical expenses, as well as lost wages. Estimating the value of pain and suffering is much more difficult, and the amount is entirely dependent on the specifics of the accident and the people involved.
3. How long does a car accident lawsuit take?
In a nutshell, it depends. A lawsuit could take weeks, months, or more than a year to settle or receive a verdict if it goes to trial. There are numerous factors that influence how long it takes to resolve a car accident lawsuit.
The severity of the accident and injuries sustained, the number of parties and people involved, insurance company negotiations, and how amenable parties are to settling the case pre-litigation or pre-trial, each party’s litigation strategies, the court’s calendar, and other factors all play a role. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine how long it will take and how much you can expect to recover.
4. Do I Need an Attorney for a Car Accident Case?
Whether you file a lawsuit or not, a personal injury attorney can assist you throughout the process of seeking fair compensation for your case. They can assist you in preserving and investigating critical evidence that would otherwise be overlooked, communicating with your insurance company, dealing with insurance adjusters on your behalf, submitting medical bills on your behalf, and negotiating a full, final, and complete settlement to cover current and long-term damages from the accident.
Many personal injuries or plaintiff attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t have to pay them out of pocket. They take a percentage of your settlement or award instead.