If you were injured in an accident and another motorist was liable, you may be able to sue the driver personally if he or she is uninsured or if the other driver’s insurance company will not cover all your losses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the most frequent cause of death for people under 30 years old in the country. If you suffered serious injuries, such as head trauma, whiplash, broken bones, and paralysis, and the other driver was liable, in most cases, you will be able to file a claim with that individual’s insurance company to seek compensation.
In some instances, however, that is not possible. You may be able to sue the driver under some circumstances, but that is not always possible or advisable.
When to File an Insurance Claim
If the accident report clearly stated that the other driver caused the crash, in most states, you will be able to pursue compensation by filing a claim with that driver’s auto insurance company. If you live in a no-fault state, however, you will have to seek compensation from your own insurer. In no-fault states, anyone involved in a car accident files a claim with his or her own insurance carrier, no matter who caused the collision.
If the other driver does not have insurance, or if the limits of the other driver’s insurance coverage are not high enough to cover your losses, you may be able to file a claim with your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. That coverage is not required in all states. If you do not have it, you may have to pursue other options.
When to Sue the Other Driver
If the other motorist does not have insurance, if the driver’s liability limits are not high enough to fairly compensate you for your losses, if the other person’s insurance company is unwilling to offer you a settlement that you consider fair, or if you live in a no-fault state and you filed a claim with your own insurance company but did not receive enough money to cover your losses, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver personally. You may be able to pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain in suffering in excess of any amount you were awarded by another party.
If the other driver does not have auto insurance, filing a lawsuit against that individual may not help you recover the compensation you deserve, however. A person who does not have car insurance probably cannot afford it. He or she likely also does not have substantial assets. If you won a lawsuit, you could have a hard time collecting the amount you were awarded.
How Your Liability May Affect Your Ability to Collect Compensation
Often, two people who are involved in an accident share responsibility. For example, one person may run a red light, and a person in another vehicle may fail to hit the brakes or swerve out of the way because he or she is reaching for something that fell on the floor and not watching the road. In those instances, comparative negligence laws come into play.
The principle of comparative negligence means that since both parties share the blame for a collision, they may both be entitled to reduced compensation. Comparative negligence laws fall into several categories and vary from state to state.
Under a pure comparative negligence system, an injured person can recover a financial award, regardless of his or her amount of liability. A person who is found to be 99 percent liable for a car crash can cover 1 percent of his or her losses under a pure comparative negligence system.
Other states have a modified comparative negligence system. An injured person can recover damages, as long as his or her amount of fault does not meet a threshold set by law. In most states, that threshold is 50 or 51 percent.
In states with a contributory negligence system, an injured person may not receive a financial award if he or she bears any responsibility for an accident. A person who is found to be just 1 percent liable for a collision can be barred from receiving any compensation.
Get Advice from a Car Accident Lawyer
If you were hurt in a collision, you may be feeling overwhelmed and struggling to figure out what to do. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has helped people across the United States who were hurt in car crashes understand their options and pursue justice.
We can discuss the specific facts surrounding your case, including who was liable, the types of insurance coverage you and the other driver have, and the relevant laws in your state. We can tell you whether you can or should file a personal injury lawsuit against the other motorist and answer any questions you may have.
Call (800) 223-5115 today to speak with a member of our staff.