If you or somebody you care about has been involved in an accident that was caused by another person’s careless or negligent actions, you may be wondering whether or not you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation for damages. There is no simple answer to this question, and there are various routes that a person can take to secure the compensation they need.
Why would you need to file a lawsuit?
In most cases, car accident injury expenses and property damage expenses are taken care of by the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. For example, if you are struck by a driver who runs a stop sign, you will file a claim with that driver’s insurance carrier. If it is determined that they were indeed responsible for the incident, the insurance carrier will cover injury and damage expenses.
While that may sound cut and dry, that is not always the case. Even when dealing with insurance carriers, you may need assistance from an attorney to secure maximum compensation. Insurance carriers are “for-profit” companies and will do what they can to lower the settlement they pay you.
It may be necessary to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver or their insurance carrier if a claim is denied or if the amount they offer in a settlement is below what you should be receiving.
What if you were partially at fault for the car accident?
In many cases, both parties in an accident share some degree of fault. However, a person injured in an accident can still recover damages even if they are partially to blame for the incident. California follows a “pure comparative negligence” law. This means that a plaintiff (the person injured) can still receive compensation regardless of how much they contributed to the incident.
However, the amount of compensation they receive will be reduced based on how much they contributed to the incident. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 and damages but was found to be 20% at fault for the incident, they will only receive $80,000 in total compensation.
The time limits to file a lawsuit
Victims of a car accident need to be aware that there are time limits in place for these cases. California places a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims and car accident lawsuits. This means that the person injured due to another driver’s negligence has two years from the date of the accident to file a civil personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
What type of compensation is available for a car accident?
Every car accident case is different, and the amount of compensation an injured victim receives will vary based on several factors, including how severe the injuries are, how long it takes the victim to recover, whether they lose income, and more.
In general, a car accident attorney will diligently work to secure maximum compensation for your claim. The following are various types of compensation that can be awarded in a car accident case:
- Your medical expenses related to the car accident
- Lost wages and benefits if a victim cannot work
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages
- Possible punitive damages against the at-fault party
Whether you are working to settle this claim through insurance carriers or a personal injury lawsuit, a skilled personal injury attorney will be able to assist you and ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the entire case.