Can You File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
You’ve seen the television commercials, billboards and internet ads: “If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you could be entitled to financial compensation.”
But can you file a car accident lawsuit, and would you be entitled to financial compensation? Here’s what you need to know.
Can You File a Car Accident Lawsuit for a Wreck You Were In?
Anyone who’s been injured in a vehicle crash should look into filing a car accident lawsuit. Not everyone will be entitled to financial compensation, but many people are – and unfortunately, a lot of people who are eligible don’t even think to talk to a lawyer.
In order to qualify for financial compensation, you have to show:
- Duty of care
- Breach of care
Duty of Care
Every driver on the road has a responsibility to exercise care. Nobody is supposed to operate a vehicle in a way that will (or could) injure other people. The court recognizes that all drivers have a duty to everyone else on the road, but there are other duties that might apply in your case, too. That can happen when multiple parties are responsible for the crash. For example, if an overworked truck driver causes a wreck or the state failed to maintain a safe roadway, other parties (in addition to the other driver) could be responsible.
Breach of Duty
To prove your case in court, you have to show that the other party breached its duty to you. That means your lawyer will have to show that the driver who injured you, whether you were in a car accident, truck crash, motorcycle accident or pedestrian accident, was negligent. When the court looks at your case, the judge will evaluate what a reasonable person would’ve done under the same conditions. Several types of breach of duty are possible in a car accident lawsuit, such as:
- Careless or reckless driving
- Distracted driving
- Driver impairment (such as in a DWI accident lawsuit)
- Failing to obey traffic laws
- Fatigued driving
In addition to showing that the other party owed you a duty and breached the duty, your lawyer will have to show that the other party’s negligence is actually what caused your accident. For example, if the other driver was texting at the time of the crash, your lawyer can say that the accident wouldn’t have occurred if he or she was paying more attention to the road than to the phone. If the other driver hadn’t swerved around a huge pothole in the road, he or she wouldn’t have hit you (which could mean that the state and the other driver are both responsible for the accident).
Finally, your attorney has to show that the other party owes you money because you suffered specific damages. If your accident didn’t cause you any financial harm, you don’t have a case. However, many lawsuits involve damages for:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Future medical costs
- Loss of future earning ability
- Lost income
- Medical bills related to the crash
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement
- Physical impairment
How Do You Know if You’re Eligible to File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
For most people, the best course of action is to call a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. Your lawyer will be able to evaluate your case to determine whether you’re probably entitled to financial compensation. However, there’s a two-year statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits, which means if you’re going to file one, you can’t wait very long.