What Happens If Someone Sues You After a Car Accident?
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Figuring out what to do after a car accident can be overwhelming – especially when the other driver sues you. You can expect an investigation into the collision, but even if you’re partially at fault, you may still be able to recover some of your damages. Your settlement could cover medical care, vehicle damage, lost wages, and other expenses related to the incident. But if you’re not careful, your car insurance company may only provide you with the bare minimum.
A lawyer can help determine if you’re receiving fair compensation. The personal injury attorneys at NST Law can investigate the circumstances of your collision and build your case, defending the settlement amount you deserve.
What steps should you take to protect yourself after a car accident?
After a car accident, quickly take steps to protect your physical health and financial well-being. By calling 911, you can access first responders to provide immediate medical care and document the incident. Protect yourself after an accident by following the steps below.
- Leave your vehicle at the scene and get to a safe location.
- Call an ambulance if anyone needs medical attention.
- Call the police. Get the accident report from the officers.
- Exchange driver’s license, vehicle, and insurance information.
- Take pictures of the vehicles and accident scene.
- Exchange information with any witnesses.
- Notify your insurance company to start your insurance claim.
- Seek legal advice to determine if you were offered a fair settlement.
What you shouldn’t do:
- Wait to receive medical care
- Discuss who is at fault with the other driver
- Accept a cash payment without an estimate
- Accept a settlement that does not cover your losses from the accident
Contact the experienced attorneys at NST Law to learn what to expect from a settlement.
What are some common reasons why someone might sue you after a car accident?
The aftermath of a car accident can be a confusing and overwhelming time. Receiving notice of a lawsuit can only exacerbate your feelings of loss and worry. Speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you understand why someone might be suing you and if you have grounds for a dismissal or countersuit. Additionally, if you are at fault, a lawyer may be able to mitigate your financial responsibility.
Many drivers sue for damages related to a significant injury. Damages can include compensation for financial losses, such as medical bills or vehicle repairs, as well as pain and suffering experienced because of the accident and resulting injuries. Some claimants may also seek punitive damages for gross negligence, such as intoxicated driving injuring another driver.
Someone may sue you if your insurance company denies their claim or offers an inadequate settlement. If you’re underinsured or uninsured, the driver could be struggling to get compensation. In 2019, the Insurance Research Council found that 1 in 8 drivers are uninsured.
Many car accidents are the result of driver negligence. In 2020, 56% of drivers involved in serious injury and fatal crashes tested positive for at least one drug. Drivers may be negligent because of an action, like driving while intoxicated, or an omission, like failing to obey traffic laws.
Examples of driver negligence include:
- Distracted driving due to drowsiness, texting, or road rage
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs
- Driving without a license
- Driving a poorly maintained vehicle.
What will you need to do after you're served?
Contact your insurance company. If you don’t have car insurance, you’ll need to hire a lawyer or represent yourself. While you can represent yourself (pro se), you will have to learn court procedures and understand the laws that apply to your case. If you have car insurance, send your insurer a copy of the summons. Your insurance company typically provides an attorney to represent you. You may want to hire an attorney yourself to get a settlement protecting your interests.
Respond to the summons, also known as a complaint, in a timely fashion. Your lawyer can file an answer on your behalf. Your answer will admit, deny or question each item in the complaint. It’s critical to address all parts of the complaint and submit it by the due date.
Next, you will enter the discovery phase. This process allows both sides to give accounts of the collision and evaluate the evidence before court proceedings. Discovery includes document requests, interrogatories (written questions), and depositions (interviews of drivers and witnesses under oath). This information can be used as evidence to determine liability.
Getting legal guidance early in the process can help you follow court requirements correctly. An experienced personal injury attorney can walk you through the process and help protect your assets.
Will you have to go to court?
Most car accident cases settle outside of court, saving the insurance companies from litigation expenses. Auto cases also take less time to settle than other personal injury lawsuits. Your attorney will negotiate with the other party in an attempt to settle the claim before trial. Ending the lawsuit at this time can be advantageous to both parties, saving them from the long, costly process of going to trial. Your case may go to mediation or alternative dispute resolution instead of court.
If a claim proceeds to trial, the other party will need to prove that you’re at fault. They’ll need to provide evidence for duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. The jury will determine fault, damage awards, and compensation amounts. Your insurance policy pays the settlement. If the amount owed exceeds your coverage, you’ll be responsible for paying the difference. If you have adequate liability insurance coverage, you may not owe anything.
What if the other driver was also at fault for your injuries and losses?
Comparative negligence laws account for the possibility that both drivers may be responsible for the accident. According to these laws, the claimant’s degree of fault determines eligibility for damages. Both parties may be eligible to sue and recover damages in some cases.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Some states require a fault percentage limit for any damages, known as modified comparative negligence. For example, in Tennessee, the driver must be less than 50% at fault to recover damages. If the driver is 50% at fault (or more), they cannot recover anything. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Illinois are a few states with a modified comparative negligence rule.
Pure Comparative Negligence
There is a pure comparative negligence rule in other states, like Missouri and Mississippi. Claims in these states do not have a percentage requirement. For example, in Missouri, if someone were 65% at fault (more at fault than the other driver), they could still be eligible for damages. In all of these states, the rules allow both drivers to sue for damages, depending on the percentage of fault.
How can NST Law help you defend against a car accident lawsuit and recover your related damages?
An attorney will evaluate the details of your accident, the severity of medical injuries, and potential liability to determine the strength of your case. We will advocate on your behalf to protect your interests and maximize recoveries. At NST Law, we’ve helped our clients secure the following car accident verdicts:
- $1,500,000.00 verdict for an elderly couple injured in a catastrophic car wreck. The case was resolved for the defendant’s policy limit of $1.5 million.
- $255,000.00 verdict for an injured passenger in a rollover accident. The case was resolved for the defendant’s policy limit.
- $230,000.00 verdict for a woman who sustained back and neck injuries in a car accident. The jury verdict was more than nine times the amount offered by the insurance company.
NST Law assists clients by reducing medical bills, helping prove negligence, retaining medical experts, and being accessible. When your insurance company fails to respond to your calls, our firm can step in and provide personalized service. We’re committed to pursuing the maximum compensation for your case. Get help reviewing your case by visiting one of our locations in Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, or Illinois.