The amount that someone can sue for a car accident varies on the damages (injuries, both medical and physical) after the accident. It is certainly possible that someone can sue after a car accident for hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars.
However, when the case is taken before the court a judge or jury, they will certainly realize that the amount being filed for (how much you sue for) is certainly not a reasonable amount based on the injuries and damages. This can harm the person suing’s credibility and this result in a lower verdict amount or nothing at all.
Anyone can sue for as much as they want to but will only be given a reasonable amount of money based on the actual damages, and suing for too much may cause the trier of fact to doubt the validity of their claim and result in a decreased award.
Will You Be Sued After a Car Accident?
All drivers have the right to sue one another after an accident. This is certainly the case when there is a dispute over liability or who was at fault. If the drivers of the vehicles involved in an accident are pointing fingers at each other, it may take a judge or jury to decide who was at fault and to what extent.
In contributory negligence states, like Maryland, if the person who files the lawsuit (called the plaintiff) or sues the other individual (the defendant) is even 1% of the fault, then they are barred from collecting any money. That means that the person suing must be fault-free to recover any money after the accident.
Can you sue someone after a car accident?
In Maryland, you are allowed to sue someone after a car accident. However, a person that files suit must understand that they will be required to prove the elements of their case to be successful. For the person who is suing or filing suit, they must prove four elements. Those four elements that must be proven are:
- There was a duty of care (i.e. to drive safely),
- that the defendant breached that duty of care (i.e. didn’t follow the rules of the road),
- causation which causes damage or injury (i.e. that the reckless driving caused the accident), and
- that there was actual damage or injury suffered by the plaintiff (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering).
For the purpose of understanding the individuals involved in a case, a plaintiff is the one who files suit and claims that the at-fault defendant) caused the injury.
Should you sue after a car accident?
After an auto collision, the beginning phase is typically the negotiation/settlement process. After the victim of the car accident, the ultimate plaintiff has completed treatment or believes that no further medical care will improve their condition, they typically submit their damages to the insurance company.
Their lawyer, who is called a Baltimore personal injury attorney, will evaluate the claim and submit all necessary and important documents to the insurance company and their adjuster.
Once the adjuster receives the documents they will review and evaluate them, which can take up to 45 days. The adjuster for the insurance company must make two separate decisions.
The first decision is to determine liability, or in other words, was their insured at-fault or liable for the accident.
What happens if an adjuster denies the claim?
If an adjuster, after evaluating the claim and facts of the accident, determines or believes that their insured is not at fault, they will typically deny the claim. At this point, the victim must decide if they want to sue the other driver for the accident. The victim will consult with their lawyer and determine the best course of action as to where and how much they should sue for.
The adjuster has determined liability and now must value the claim…..what happens next?
If the adjuster for the at-fault driver has determined they’re insured was at fault for the accident, the adjuster must now evaluate the value of the claim. The adjuster will use computer software, computer databases, and their own experience to determine how much they will offer to settle the claim.
Once they’ve made their initial evaluation, they will extend a settlement offer to the victim’s lawyer. The lawyer will then convey that offer to the victim and the victim must decide if they’re willing to accept the settlement offer.
Can my lawyer negotiate a higher settlement after my car accident?
Absolutely, if your lawyer is not negotiating a higher settlement amount, then you need to find a new lawyer. This is why you are paying your lawyer to work for you to get you the most money after your accident.
Your lawyer should be negotiating and presenting your case and how you have suffered after the accident to the insurance adjuster. Once your lawyer conveys all the facts of the accident and how it is adversely affected you since then, the adjuster will consider these factors and may make another higher settlement offer. This may go back and forth for weeks or months, be patient, this may be a benefit to you.
Does the settlement process ever break down and just stop?
Yes, in approximately 15% of cases the victim and their lawyer, cannot come to an agreed settlement amount with the adjuster and insurance company. In these circumstances, the victim must then decide if they are willing to file suit and sue the at-fault driver for the accident and to seek appropriate compensation.
Do you sue the insurance company or the at-fault driver?
When your lawyer files suit or sues, he will be suing the other driver, the insurance company will indemnify or pay for the defense and any judgment, but the other driver is the named defendant in the lawsuit.
What happens if the at-fault driver is suing you?
If you’re being sued by the at-fault driver then it typically means that they have received bad advice in pursuing a lawsuit. If you were insured at the time of the accident, you should notify your insurance company and they will hire a lawyer to defend you.
If you receive any paperwork from a lawyer or any court documents regarding the accident, immediately forward them to your insurance company so that they may respond and file a defense on your behalf.
Your insurance company will hire a lawyer to defend you. You may also want to hire a car accident lawyer to pursue a counter-claim on your behalf if you have any damages or medical expenses.
What should I do if someone sues me after a car accident?
Don’t panic if someone sues you after a car accident, you have options. If you had car insurance at the time of the accident, then you should be covered. Your car insurance policy should provide a defense attorney who will represent you throughout the lawsuit. If you are sued after a car accident, you should immediately notify your car insurer of the lawsuit. Contact your insurance carrier and speak with the adjuster who is handling the claim. You should fax, scan and email or mail a copy of the lawsuit you received.
Once your car insurance company receives the paperwork, they will file a notice to defend with the court and the attorney representing the other party. Your insurance company will begin the defense process. You may have to answer interrogatories or produce documents that are related to the car accident. Again, don’t panic, notify your insurance company and let them take care of the lawsuit.
What If I Didn’t Have Insurance and the Other Driver Sues Me After an Accident?
If you did not have car insurance, then you may have to hire a private lawyer to defend you against the lawsuit. You should search for a personal injury defense lawyer in your area. You will have to pay that lawyer out of your own pocket since you did not have coverage at the time of the accident. Most defense lawyers will charge hourly rates. This means they will charge for every hour of time they work on your case.
Can I sue for pain and suffering after a car accident?
Absolutely, you should sue for pain and suffering as well as the actual damages that you suffered, meaning your medical bills and lost wages. Pain and suffering is an essential part of any lawsuit because it takes into account all of the hassle and burden you were put through after the crash.
While your lawyer may be able to offer some predictions as to the amount of pain and suffering you will receive, it is ultimately up to the judge or jury to award the amount. Pain and suffering are sometimes hard to quantify, so presenting every aspect of your life that has been disrupted after the accident will be helpful for the Trier of fact to determine the appropriate amount.
If you have more questions about suing after a car accident or your rights, contact our Auto Collision attorneys today to speak with an attorney I can answer your questions and guide you in the process of filing a lawsuit.