If you have been involved in a car accident, you probably have a lot of questions, especially if you have been injured or incurred property damage.
After seeking medical attention and doing all the things needed while at the accident scene, the next question you may be asking yourself is; whom do I sue after a car accident? Do I sue the at-fault motorist or the insurance company?
Well, most drivers simply file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and negotiate things from there.
However, you need to remember that car crashes can lead to a motor vehicle accident lawsuit, particularly if the insurance company is not willing to pay you the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
So, whom do you sue in such a case? The answer depends on a wide range of factors, including the car accident laws in the state where you live, whether or not the other motorist has insurance coverage, and the type of insurance they have.
This blog post discusses everything you need to know about suing for a car accident injury. Read on to learn more.
Determining Liability in a Car Accident Case
Before you file a motor vehicle accident lawsuit, the first thing you need to figure out is who was at fault for the accident. If you were 100% at-fault for the accident, trying to file a lawsuit against the other driver for your injuries or damage to your car won’t yield any positive results.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you determine who was at fault for the accident and how much money you may be entitled to in compensation.
But this leads us to another critical question: What are the negligence laws in your state? Remember that a motor vehicle accident lawsuit is usually based on the idea that one of the parties involved in the crash was at fault.
However, state laws vary significantly in awarding damages based on each driver’s fault percentage. If you live in a contributory negligence state such as Virginia, being just one percent at fault may be enough to bar you from filing a claim.
Other states such as Colorado use the comparative negligence system that allows you to sue for compensation even if you were partially at fault for the accident.
As long as your assigned fault percentage is less than 50%, you can still receive compensation, but it will be reduced with an amount of money corresponding to your fault percentage.
Whom Do I Sue After a Car Accident?
So, whom can you sue in a car accident case? The following parties can all be sued in a typical motor vehicle accident lawsuit:
1. The Other Driver
The first place to look for liability is one or more of the motorists involved in the accident. A driver whose actions or inaction caused the accident must be held fully liable under the theory of ordinary negligence.
In simple words, it means that you are suing them for failure to take appropriate precautions that any other reasonable person would have taken in the same situation.
In a chain reaction involving several vehicles, multiple drivers may be at fault. Bringing all the appropriate drivers into the case can give you access to multiple insurance companies. This is critical because one driver’s insurance policy limit may not be sufficient to cover the damage caused.
2. The Employer of the At-Fault Driver
A car accident claim gets complex if the at-fault driver was working for a given company at the time of the crash.
For instance, it could be a delivery driver in a company car rear-ended you at the red light. In such a case, you and your car accident attorney can probably sue the company or file compensation claims on several insurance policies.
But we must mention that such cases can be quite complicated and require the help of a highly experienced lawyer.
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Sometimes, you may even discover that an employer’s negligence contributed to the accident. If that is the case, you can sue the employer under a theory of negligent supervision, negligent training, negligent hiring, among others.
Perhaps the company hired a driver with a record of DUI, or they may have created incentives that made the driver speed or drive carelessly. In other cases, the employer may have failed to inspect or maintain the company cars properly.
3. The Car Owner
If the car owner allowed someone else to drive their car without carrying out due diligence to figure out the kind of person they were handing the vehicle to, and that person causes an accident, you can sue the car owner under a theory of negligent entrustment.
This is mostly relevant in teen driver accidents where a teen driver causes an accident while driving their parent’s car. The key would be proving that the car owner should have known that the driver was unsafe.
However, negligent entrustment doesn’t apply in cases involving stolen cars because the car’s rightful owner probably couldn’t have expected the driver to be driving their vehicle.
4. Car Manufacturer
If the car that caused the accident or any part of it failed in the events leading to the accident, the car or specific part of it could be defective.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Authority report that approximately 2% of all car accident crashes in the United States are caused by a car component failure. In such a case, the car or part manufacturer might be held fully responsible for your bodily injuries and property damage.
If you are thinking about pursuing a claim against the car or part manufacturer, you need to remember that it will most likely be classified as a product liability claim. In some cases, strict liability applies to product liability claims – it means that you don’t have to prove negligence.
All you have to do is prove that your car was defective or had a defective part that caused the accident. This is unlike in other product liability claims, where you have to prove that someone was negligent somewhere in the production chain.
But if you or the other driver knew something could be wrong and failed to fix it before the accident happened, you won’t qualify for a product liability claim. Be sure to consult an experienced attorney to find out your best option for seeking compensation.
5. Private Property Owner
In a rare occasion, a car accident may result from a private property owner failing to keep their property in a safe and sound condition.
For instance, a tree or bush may grow too close to the road preventing motorists from seeing other cars or the stop sign. If this leads to a car accident, you can file a premises liability claim against the property owner.
But you may be required to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the condition was hazardous and that the property owner should have known about it.
6. Government Agency
Lastly, you can also sue a government agency if you got into an accident with a motorist driving a government car. In such a case, you can file a motor vehicle accident lawsuit against the agency that employed the negligent driver.
If a traffic light, defective road sign, or any other hazardous road condition cause your accident, then the government agency that oversees the road is to blame.
Filing a lawsuit against a government agency is slightly different than filing a claim against a private entity. Sometimes, the time you have to file a lawsuit against a government agency will be less than the time you have to file a normal personal injury claim.
The government agency might also have a powerful team of legal experts at its disposal, but that shouldn’t intimidate you at all.
Let Us Help You File Your Car Accident Claim
Filing a car accident claim can be pretty challenging and stressful. Luckily our experienced team of car accident lawyers is here to help you. If someone else was responsible for the accident, you don’t have to pay for the damages caused – they should.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation review of your case. We are more than happy to help you fight for the rightful compensation you deserve!