If you have been in a car accident, you probably have questions about what to do next. Most injured drivers file a claim with the other driver’s insurance provider and negotiate a settlement amount. However, the other driver’s insurance company may not give you the amount of damages that you asked for. The other driver also may not have had auto insurance. If you have trouble with your insurance claim or feel that you didn’t receive the amount you were entitled to, you may then decide to file a lawsuit.
The main method of recovering money for your car accident is filing a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. Once your insurance claim is filed, an insurance adjuster will evaluate your claim by looking at the damage to the vehicles and the costs associated with your injuries. The adjuster will decide how much compensation the insurance company will pay you.
An attorney can help you with this process by assisting in negotiations with the insurance company if they won’t give you the amount that you deserve. The attorneys at Regan Zambri Long have the experience to help you negotiate a fair settlement. If your car accident insurance claim is denied, an attorney can also help you in the insurance claim appeals process.
If the insurance claim process does not work in your situation and a personal injury action is necessary, determining who you can sue will depend on the negligence laws in your state. Generally, you can sue anyone who acted negligently and contributed to the accident, and depending on your state, if more than one person was responsible for the accident, you can even sue multiple other drivers.
Some parties that you might be able to sue after a car accident are:
Human error is the cause of approximately 90% of car accidents, according to an article from the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Recently, the United States Department of Transportation published a short memo stating that an even higher percentage of car accidents, 94%, are caused by human error.
It goes without saying, but the main party that you would sue in a car accident is most likely the negligent driver of the other vehicle. In accidents like these which involve only two cars, knowing who to sue is fairly simple.
Sometimes a car accident can have multiple causes, both human and mechanical, but usually, when there is more than one cause, multiple additional drivers were also at fault. Multi-vehicle accidents happen often. 45% of motor vehicle deaths occur in multiple car accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In multi-vehicle accidents, you may be able to sue more than one driver if you can show that other drivers were also negligent and contributed to your accident.
Though human-related errors make up the majority of automobile accidents, about 2% of car accidents are caused by vehicle defects. If the car or a component of the car malfunctioned and caused or contributed to the accident, the automobile manufacturer can be sued.
Most claims against automobile manufacturers are product liability claims, which use a strict liability standard instead of negligence. For these types of claims, all that is required to prove that the manufacturer was at fault is the fact that the vehicle was defective and caused the injury. However, other types of product liability claims still require showing that the manufacturer was negligent.
Similarly, if the accident resulted from negligent auto repair, the repair shop can be sued. You will have to prove the elements of a negligence claim to succeed against a repair shop.
Some of the potential areas where automotive defects often cause car accidents are:
These types of defects could originate from either the original car manufacturer or the result of the negligent repair.
Last, you could sue a government agency. You could have been involved in an accident with a government employee driving a government vehicle, in which case, you could sue the agency employing that driver. You could also sue an agency if it was responsible for a road hazard or faulty traffic device.
Personal injury claims normally have a statute of limitations. This is a limit on how long after your accident you can file your claim. Statutes of limitations are meant to protect against unfair lawsuits by making sure the potential defendant in the legal action can still gather the evidence needed to fairly defend themselves.
The length of the statute of limitations will depend on the state:
There are some exceptions to these statutes of limitations that pause the time or extend the time you have to file your claim. One exception is that when minors are involved, the time period to file a claim doesn’t start until the child reaches the age of 18, and the statute of limitations doesn’t end until the child turns 21. There are also exceptions to the statute of limitations period for victims who are incapacitated and cannot file their claim during the time period and for situations where the victim cannot identify the negligent driver.
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is critical to the success of a car accident claim. Our practice extends through Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. A lawyer from Regan Zambri Long will discuss your claim with you, talk to you about proving the elements of your car accident negligence claim, and explain how to proceed with your claim and which parties you should consider suing.
Regan Zambri Long has a record of excellence and you can rest assured that our firm has the resources and expertise to fight for your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. Call Regan Zambri Long today for a free case evaluation.