After most car accidents one or both parties involved make insurance claims to cover expenses such as property damage and medical expenses/therapy. The insurance agencies make a settlement offer which must be accepted by the individuals involved. When the settlement on the table is not acceptable because it does not cover ongoing medical care or adequately compensate for pain and suffering and lost wages, for example, it may be time to consider suing after a car accident.
What you need to know before suing after a car accident
If the insurance process is not yielding a settlement that covers all your damages because the insurance agency is trying to protect their bottom line or settle early to avoid paying for ongoing expenses, or because the at-fault driver was an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist; it may be time to consider suing (or filing binding arbitration).
Steps to consider:
- In order to determine whether the settlement being offered to you is unreasonable you must gather evidence.
- Pictures of the accident scene and damage to your vehicle
- X-rays, doctor’s notes and rehabilitation prescriptions
- Other medical expenses such as a trip in an ambulance and emergency care
- Recording lost wages
- Quotes and receipts for money spent to repair damaged vehicle
If the expenses and losses added up are higher than the settlement you may need to consider suing.
- Consult a car accident lawyer
Bring all your evidence to a car accident lawyer. He or she will evaluate your situation, let you know if you have a case to sue and how much your case is worth. A car accident lawyer generally provides a free consultation and representation on a contingency fee basis which means you only pay a percentage of the settlement. They will gather further evidence and interview/retain expert witnesses as needed in order to fight for a fair settlement.
- Decide if suing is a good option or not
Your car accident attorney will help you decide if it is a good plan to sue after your car accident or not.
- The attorney will calculate all economic and non-economic damages to come up with a reasonable settlement for your case. Economic damages are monetary expenses such as medical care and lost wages and non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering and emotional trauma.
- The attorney will attempt to negotiate with the insurance companies first.
- If a favorable settlement cannot be reached the accident lawyer may bring a lawsuit against the insurance agency or other driver, depending on the best path for recovery.
The bottom line in deciding to sue after an accident is whether or not the injured party is able to recover sufficient compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages without suing. If a decision is made to sue understand that there is a statute of limitations. In Washington State, plaintiffs generally have three years from the date of the injury to file a claim. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to walk you through the whole process.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!