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Can I Sue the Other Driver for Damages After a Car Accident?

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The answer is “Yes”. You have the option to sue the other driver for damages by filing a lawsuit against them if they are at fault for your car accident and the resulting damages. To do this, you must prove the liability of the other driver based on your state’s laws.

Alternatively, if you want to avoid lengthy court procedures (lawsuits and litigation). In that case, you can file your insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a quick resolution. Therefore, it is recommended to consult an experienced car accident lawyer to explore the best choices for your case.

At Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, our car accident attorneys provide free and confidential case reviews. We’ll assist in determining your legal options and help you negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurer to get the maximum settlement. So, get in touch with us at 917-540-8728 to set up your free legal consultation.

Suing At-Fault Drivers for Different Damages After a Car Crash

If a car accident results from another driver’s negligence, you can pursue compensation for your damages. There are several categories of damages for which you can seek legal recourse. Here is an overview of the various damages you can sue for after a car crash:

1. Property Damage

When a car accident occurs, the consequences extend beyond just physical injuries, causing damage to your vehicle and personal property. This broader scope of harm is property damage, including items such as laptops, phones, clothing, aftermarket wheels, or a custom stereo system. Even if you escape physical injury, you have the right to pursue compensation for these damages from other involved drivers.

For less severe damage, handling your car accident case through a small claims court is a viable option. However, it’s essential to confirm whether your state allows such cases in small claims court before proceeding. When the property damage is huge and your insurance coverage falls short, pursuing a claim in a regular civil court may be necessary. This involves filing a property damage claim against the party responsible for the accident.

How to File a Lawsuit for Car Damage?

If you find yourself in the situation to pursue a lawsuit for car damage, you can follow these steps:

  • Begin by thoroughly reviewing your insurance policy to identify what types of coverage are available. Check options such as coverage for at-fault drivers, collision, comprehensive, underinsured/uninsured motorist, and liability coverage.
  • Submit a property damage claim to your insurer.
  • Consider seeking advice from an experienced car accident lawyer.

By following these steps and enlisting professional assistance, you can better position yourself to address and resolve car damage issues effectively.

Options for Pursuing a Car Accident Lawsuit

When filing the lawsuit, you have two options to pursue:

  • Small Claims Court: If the responsible party lacks insurance coverage or their insurer denies your car damage claim, filing your lawsuit in small claims court is an option. This option is suitable for cases involving low financial damages and allows you to represent yourself without a lawyer.
    However, you may enlist the services of a skilled car accident lawyer, if you believe it’s necessary for your case. Their experience can provide invaluable guidance throughout the process.
  • Associate & Circuit Court: In instances where the damages exceed the limits set by small claims court, filing a car accident lawsuit in an associate or circuit court may be necessary, depending on your jurisdiction. These courts handle more complex cases that may involve formal legal procedures and the hiring of an attorney.

Each option has its own set of requirements and considerations. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain open communication with your attorney and thoroughly assess your circumstances to make a well-informed decision on the most appropriate course of action.

Filing a Property Damage Claim

Filing a property damage claim involves a series of crucial steps to ensure a fair resolution, such as: 

Gather Comprehensive Evidence: After the incident, document the damage to your vehicle and personal belongings. Capture clear photographs, secure police reports, and collect witness statements if available.

Notify Insurance Companies Promptly: Reach out to your insurance company and the at-fault party’s insurer. Provide them with all details, including the police report and any documentation related to the property damage.

Facilitate Assessment and Estimates: Your insurance company will assign an insurer to evaluate the damage to your vehicle. For a more comprehensive assessment, consider obtaining repair estimates from reputable auto repair shops. This can help ensure an accurate valuation.

Engage in Negotiations for a Fair Settlement: Once the insurance company presents an initial settlement offer based on their assessment, be prepared to negotiate. If the initial offer falls short of covering your expenses, negotiate for a fair resolution.

Explore Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods: If negotiations don’t reach an agreement, consider alternative dispute methods like mediation or arbitration. These can provide a neutral platform to resolve disagreements and expedite the claims process.

Legal Recourse as a Last Resort: If negotiations fail to yield a satisfactory agreement, legal action may be necessary. Consult a qualified attorney specializing in personal injury or property damage cases. He/She can guide you with the legal process and represent your interests before a judge or jury.

2- Emotional Distress

It refers to the psychological and emotional anguish resulting from either being involved or witnessing a traumatic car crash. It can manifest in a range of intense emotions, such as fear, anxiety, shock, anger, and signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you experience these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical help. Additionally, maintaining a detailed record of your pain and suffering is crucial, as it can serve as valuable evidence in any legal proceedings.

If you’re dealing with such emotional distress, you may have grounds to seek compensation by taking legal action against the negligent driver. This compensation can help cover expenses related to medication and visits to mental health professionals. Furthermore, specific states enforce limited timelines for filing lawsuits against the responsible party. For instance, in New York City, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for emotional distress resulting from a car crash is three years from the date of the accident.

To meet the legal deadlines, timely communication with your personal injury attorney is essential. By doing so, you can safeguard your rights and pursue the compensation you may be entitled to for the emotional toll of the traumatic incident.

Proving Pain and Suffering

To prove the connection between your emotional distress and the car crash, it is crucial to compile comprehensive documentation. This should include:

  • Medical records of physical injuries, such as doctor’s notes, treatment plans, and records of surgeries. 
  • Diagnostic test results like X-rays, CT scans, or MRI reports.
  • Healthcare professionals’ statements detailing your pain and discomfort.
  • Mental health records like your diagnosis and progress notes.
  • Your own detailed personal statement. Describe your experiences, emotions, and the impact on your daily life. 

Calculating Pain and Suffering

To calculate your emotional distress damages, you can use two methods, such as:

Multiplier Method: A widely utilized approach is the multiplier method, where the total economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.) are multiplied by a number (multiplier) ranging from 1.5 to 5. This number shows the severity of the pain and suffering. For instance, 

Pain and Suffering=Total Economic Damages×Multipier

Consider a scenario where total economic damages amount to $20,000, and a multiplier of 3 is applied:

{Pain and Suffering} = $20,000 × 3

{Pain and Suffering} = $60,000

In this case, your compensation for pain and suffering would be $60,000 in addition to the $20,000 previously calculated for medical expenses and lost wages.

Per Diem Method: An alternative method involves assigning a daily rate to your pain and suffering and then multiplying it by the number of days you experienced such mental distress. For example, 

Pain and Suffering= Daily Rate×Number of Days

Let’s assume you’ve experienced these hardships for 180 days:

{Pain and Suffering} = $200 × 180

{Pain and Suffering} = $36,000

Employing the per diem method, your compensation for pain and suffering would be $36,000. Thus, both these approaches provide different ways to measure and evaluate the hidden expenses linked to emotional distress in legal situations.

3- Medical Bills

If you sustain bodily injuries due to another driver’s negligent actions, the resulting medical expenses can quickly pile up. In such circumstances, taking legal action to seek compensation for these medical costs becomes necessary.

Therefore, to pursue a claim against the responsible driver for your medical expenses, it is advisable to consider and undertake the following steps carefully:

  • Gather evidence like medical records, hospital bills, etc
  • Document the scene
  • Identify the witnesses
  • Contact insurance companies
  • Consult with an attorney
  • Determine liability
  • Negotiate with the at-fault party insurance
  • File a lawsuit if negotiations fail

Click to explore your options for compensation from the at-fault driver by contacting our team of experienced personal injury lawyers. Our lawyers specialize in pursuing claims for a wide range of damages and will customize their support to align with the unique details of your case. Connect with us to receive assistance and guidance tailored to your situation.

4- Loss of Income or Wages

If your income or wages have been adversely affected in a car accident. In such a case, pursuing legal action against the responsible driver to seek compensation becomes crucial. To make your case, you’ll need to present the following documents:

  • An official affidavit from your employee.
  • Your income structure – whether hourly wages, a fixed salary, or earnings from a contractual arrangement.
  • Any overtime or additional benefits regularly received.
  • Copies of recent tax returns and pay stubs.

To compile all these documents, you can seek the assistance of a car accident attorney specializing in personal injury cases. He/She can calculate your financial losses and ensure a practical approach to seek the compensation you deserve.

Suing the Other Driver for Negligence With No Injuries

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Yes, you can sue another driver for negligence even if there are no physical injuries. Here’s a simple example:

Let’s say you’re driving your car, obeying all traffic laws, when another driver rear-ends your vehicle at a stoplight. Thankfully, you and your passengers emerge from the accident without any physical injuries. However, your car sustains significant damage to its rear bumper and trunk.

In this situation, you have the right to sue the other driver for negligence, despite the absence of bodily harm. To build your car accident claim, you would need to establish the following elements:

If you want to pursue a lawsuit for the driver’s negligence with no injuries, you can submit your car accident claim with the insurance company of an at-fault driver and negotiate with them. To build your car accident claim, you would need to prove the following elements:

  1. Duty of Care: Demonstrate that the other driver had a legal obligation to drive their vehicle safely, which includes maintaining a reasonable following distance.
  2. Breach of Duty: Provide evidence that the at-fault driver failed to stop on time, resulting in a rear-end collision, breaching their duty of care.
  3. Causation: Establish a clear and direct connection between the breach of duty (rear-ending) and the property damage incurred by your vehicle.
  4. Damages: Compile evidence of financial losses from the accident, such as repair costs, towing fees, rental car expenses, and any other out-of-pocket expenditures directly related to the incident.

However, if the insurance company rejects your claim or fails to offer adequate compensation, the next course of action may involve pursuing a car accident lawsuit. To navigate this legal process effectively, seeking guidance from an attorney is advisable. They can assess the driver’s liability based on the specific laws in your state and provide valuable insights into building a compelling case.

State Laws for Negligence

You can consider three rules based on your state:

  • In New York, the legal frameworks follow the comparative negligence rule, which means if you are found partially at fault, your compensation will be reduced. For instance, if you’re 60% at fault, and the other party is 40% responsible, you are entitled to recover only 40% of your damages while bearing the responsibility for the remaining 60%.
  • States like Alabama operate under the contributory negligence rule. Under this guideline, even if you are just 1% accountable for the damages, you are ineligible for compensation.
  • Other states like Massachusetts and Michigan employ the modified comparative negligence rule. If you are determined to be more than 50% or 51% responsible for the accident or damages, you are barred from receiving any compensation.

New York Law for Reasonable Care

In various jurisdictions, including New York, adherence to the concept of “reasonable care” is mandatory for drivers. This standard expects that all drivers exercise some level of care and caution on the road. To exemplify reasonable care, drivers should actively engage in the following practices:

  • Follow traffic laws such as obeying speed limits, traffic signals, etc.
  • Avoid distractions like calling or texting on the phone.
  • Maintain proper control during adverse weather conditions.
  • Keep a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of them.
  • Yield the right of way to be aware of the presence of pedestrians.
  • Adjust to road conditions like slowing down in heavy traffic or areas where children may be present.

Consult Uptown Injury New York Car Accident Lawyer Today

When you’re facing the aftermath of a car accident, whether it involves bodily injuries or property damage, having a knowledgeable attorney by your side can make a world of difference. Here’s why you should consider choosing Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, to represent you:

  • Evidence Gathering: Our legal team diligently collects evidence of the at-fault driver’s negligence to strengthen your case.
  • Expert Guidance: We provide expert advice on navigating the court process, ensuring you understand your legal options.
  • In-Depth Knowledge: With a deep understanding of state laws and regulations, we customize our strategy to your state’s specific negligence rules.
  • Timely Action: Time is of the essence. We ensure you take appropriate legal action within the limited timeframe available after a car accident.
  • Contingency-Fee Basis: We know car accident victims like you struggle to afford top-tier legal representation. That’s why our attorneys work on a contingency fee policy, meaning you pay us nothing unless we win your case.

With our experienced car accident attorney on your side, rest assured that your case will be handled with the utmost expertise and dedication. So, why wait? Schedule a free consultation today by getting in touch with us online or calling our toll-free office at 917-540-8728.

FAQs

How Much Are Most Car Accident Settlements?

On average, most car accident settlements typically fall within the range of $24,000 to $28,000. However, this settlement amount can vary widely based on the specific circumstances of each case, such as the extent of your injuries, property damage, and liability considerations.

What Is the Statute of Limitations to Sue Someone in New York?

In New York County, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim involving car accidents is three years, starting from the incident date. However, it is crucial to note that certain circumstances can reduce this prescribed time limit.

Can I Still Recover Compensation for Damages If I Was at Fault?

If you were at fault in the accident, your ability to recover compensation for damages largely depends on your insurance coverage. If you have liability coverage, you may need to cover your own repair costs. However, if your policy includes collision coverage, you’ll pay the deductible, and your insurance will cover the rest.

How Is the Damage to My Car Calculated After an Accident?

The calculation of car damage after an accident typically follows the 17c formula, which factors in the car’s pre-accident value, an arbitrary maximum loss (usually 10% of the pre-accident value), and multipliers based on structural damage and mileage. Therefore, this process helps determine the final value of your car’s loss after the accident.

What Damages Can I Sue Another Driver for After an Auto Accident?

You can sue the other driver for various damages, like medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. The specific damages you can claim may depend on the circumstances of your accident and the laws in your jurisdiction.

What Evidence Do I Need to Sue the Other Driver?

To sue the at-fault driver, you should collect evidence like photos or videos of the accident scene, witness statements, the police report, medical records, and documentation of any expenses or losses related to the accident. This evidence will help prove the other driver’s negligence and your resulting damages.

Why Is Legal Counsel Crucial for Lawsuits and Property Damage Claims?

Securing the guidance of a legal professional is crucial, as your insurance coverage may fall short in certain circumstances. Moreover, insurance companies can reject your claim for property damage. Here’s how an attorney can help you in car accident claims:
– Determine who is at fault for the crash.
– Gather evidence to prove your claim.
– Negotiate on your behalf with an insurance company and the parties involved.
– Take your case to court (litigation) and represent your case effectively before a judge and jury.

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Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
WRITTEN AND REVIEWED BY
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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