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Should I Sue After A Car Accident?

October 1, 2021 By Flora Templeton Stuart

The decision to sue after a car accident should be made after consultation with an experienced accident injury lawyer. The majority of cases are settled out of court since litigation can take years with considerable expense. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, the cases we take to court involve serious injury with significant insurance to collect and liability that can be established against the at-fault party.

What’s In This Guide:

Should I Sue After A Car Accident?

car accident

Millions of auto accidents are recorded each year in the United States. Statistics put these auto crashes to nearly 4.4 million injuries and almost 40,000 deaths annually,  resulting in devastating losses and financial challenges. Anyone can be involved in an accident. It’s inevitable and, therefore, can happen to you or someone you know. But after you’re done with medical treatment, what other options do you have? A car accident can result in devastating injuries, property damage, and in the worst scenario, loss of life. This brings us to the question; can you sue after a car accident? The answer is a definite yes. Under federal and state laws, a car accident victim has the right to take legal action against the people responsible for their injuries, loss of a loved one, or damaged property. When you file a claim or lawsuit after a car crash, you can legally receive compensation for personal injuries, wrongful death, and property damage. Suing a negligent party is your legal right which you should pursue if it’s established that:

  • Liability by driver who caused the wreck
  • There’s proof of negligence
  • You were owed a duty of care
  • You were not provided with a duty of care
  • The car collision was not entirely your fault
  • You suffered damages (injury or property damage)

How Long After A Wreck Can You Sue?

In Kentucky, you need a minimum of $1,000 in medical bills, fractures, permanent injury, or other damages to file claim. Furthermore, after a car wreck, there’s a specific period that you are allowed to pursue all the legal options to obtain compensation for your damages.  This time period is known as the statute of limitations . The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In most states such as Kentucky, it’s two years from the date the car crash occurred or longer if PIP has paid. However, in states like Tennessee, you have up to 12 months to file a vehicle wreck lawsuit against the at-fault parties. This means that if you reside in Kentucky, you have up to two years to file a claim or suit. On the other hand, if you are from Tennessee, the earlier you file the claim, the better since you have only one year before your rights to sue expires from the accident date.

Whom To Sue After A Car Accident

As an injured motorist, the logical thing to do is file a claim with the liable driver’s insurance company and negotiate a settlement. However, in a lawsuit, several factors must be considered when determining whom to sue. These factors include:

Determining Liability

The first factor to consider is determining who was responsible for the car wreck. Fact is, if you were entirely responsible for the accident, there’s no way you’ll obtain compensation for your injuries or car damages from the other driver. However, if you are sure the other driver was indeed at fault, and the liability is disputed, you can work with a competent car accident attorney to help determine fault. You will be compensated based on the percentage of your liability. For example, if you were 30% responsible for the car collision, you can receive up to 70$ in damages. This determination is based on whether yours is a comparative, contributory, or modified comparative negligence state. A contributory negligence state does not allow recovery of damages no matter the degree of your fault. Thankfully, Tennessee and Kentucky are comparative fault states, so you can be awarded based on the level of your negligence.

Settlement Negotiations

The next factor to consider when determining whom to sue is negotiating with the insurance company. Typically, your claim will be against the insurance company of the liable party. Once done, you’ll have to negotiate with the insurer to determine if the at-fault driver’s policy is sufficient to cater to the compensation amount. If this option doesn’t work, your next step is to file a lawsuit against the driver. Flora Templeton Stuart has negotiated with insurance companies for over 45 years.

Suing The Responsible Driver

If you’ve followed the above processes and the insurance company won’t award you the settlement amount you believe you deserve, the next cause of action is to sue the at-fault driver. You reserve the legal rights to sue the responsible driver for negligence that caused your injuries or aggravated any underlying health conditions. However, you cannot sue the insurance company directly. In some cases, there can be more than one driver responsible to sue.

The At-Fault Driver Has No Insurance, What Next?

When a liable driver has no insurance coverage, you have two options to choose from. For one, you can sue the driver personally. However, if they lack insurance coverage, the chances are that they lack sufficient assets that may be used to cover the compensation amount. The second option is to file a claim under your uninsured motorist benefits with your insurance provider. However, you cannot obtain any amount higher than your uninsured motorist coverage. The minimum insurance amount in Kentucky and Tennessee is $25,000 but can be increased through your car insurance policy.

Who Pays When You Sue After A Car Accident?

Once you’ve established whom to sue for your car collision damages, you should be able to collect compensation money from them. These individuals may be the at-fault driver, their insurance provider, or your own insurance provider. As a practical matter, 99% of cases are collected from the insurance company.

How Are Car Accident Lawsuits Settled?

Once you make your claim with the concerned insurance company, they will conduct an independent investigation into the accident. They’ll review the police report and your medical records. They’ll also assess the extent of your car’s damages to ascertain if you deserve the compensation amount presented in your claim. Next, the insurance company will consult with relevant experts such as your doctor, mechanical engineer, and a vehicle reconstruction specialist to ascertain the full extent of your damages.

Usually, the insurance companies involved here are the at-fault driver’s and if they are not insured, your insurance company. If the settlement fails to go through, you’ll need to file a lawsuit with a circuit court. A circuit court is usually the correct forum to file where the accident occurred. If parties reside in different states, it can be filed in Federal Court in the district where the accident happened.

Is It Worth Suing After A Car Accident?

Over 90% of personal. Injury cases do not end up in court. Most are settled out of court. With the high costs of litigation, only cases with serious injuries are worth going to court. These cases need experienced litigation attorneys with the recourses to fight. Flora Templeton Stuart has 45 years of experience litigating thousands of cases.

Additionally, if you lost a loved one in a car wreck, you must file a car accident lawsuit for their deaths which could have been avoided. A wrongful death lawsuit awards you compensation to clear medical bills and funeral expenses for your departed loved one. Always consult with an attorney to establish if your situation warrants a lawsuit and if there’s a chance of a positive outcome.

Contact A Car Accident Attorney For Help

flora inspecting car wreckFinally, you understand that it’s your legal right to seek compensation for your damages after an auto crash. You can definitely sue after a car accident, and this piece explains whom you can sue and how to go about it. With this information in hand, your next step is enlisting the services of a competent car accident lawyer. Whether you reside in Kentucky or Tennessee, our highly skilled car accident attorneys at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers are ready to take up your case and protect your rights. Feel free to contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. She is a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer with over 40 years of experience. Her story has been featured on Fox, The New York Times, ABC, Time, and NBC.