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Auto Accident Lawsuit Guide (2024)

If you have suffered injuries in an accident where the other party is to blame, you probably are considering filing an accident lawsuit to recover damages. 

But you may be unsure of what steps to take when navigating a lawsuit. This article highlights some things you should know when navigating a car accident claim.

Deciding Whether to File a Lawsuit

Not all injuries warrant filing a claim. If the cost of filing a claim will be more than what you expect to recover damages, there is no need to file a claim. Besides, no lawyer will be willing to take up a case with very little compensation since they get their pay as a percentage of your settlement. 

But it is best not to rule your injuries as not warranting filing a lawsuit. The best approach is to consult a lawyer and let them make the call. The good thing is most lawyers do not charge for the first consultation, so you do not have to worry about the cost. If a lawyer gives you the go-ahead, start the lawsuit filing process. 

“You may feel tempted to pursue a lawsuit without a lawyer so that you pocket everything that comes out of the lawsuit. But, going without a lawyer often results in meager payouts,” says Attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr of The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.

Get Your Timing Right

Personal injury laws differ by state. But all states have a statute of limitation, the legal time limit for filing a lawsuit. After the statute of limitation expires, you cannot file a claim against the at-fault driver. 

Most states have two to three-year statutes of limitations for private entities and a shorter period for governmental entities, so you may want to ensure you know your state's limits to file your lawsuit in time. 

If you have a lawyer working with you, you do not have to worry about the statute of limitation since they will already factor that in when laying out plans for your case.

Car Accident Settlement

The claims process usually starts with your lawyer informing the at-fault party of your intention to file a lawsuit. In some cases, the at-fault party can seek an amicable resolution to your lawsuit, which is always a welcome idea since it can help save costs. 

If not, the case will proceed to the next steps of the process. This includes the discovery phase, where you exchange evidence with the other party, and the disposition stage, where each side gets to question the other party's witnesses. These critical steps give a rough view of the case's weight.

After this phase, you may go through negotiations where you may try to resolve the matter out of court. If an amicable resolution fails, the court can appoint a mediator to help you resolve contentious issues. If all fail, your case will go to trial, where the judge of the jury sets the settlement terms.

Recoverable Damages

Irrespective of where the court settles, the at-fault party must compensate the victim from out-of-pocket cash or through their insurer. Recoverable damages in a car accident case include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to damages quantifiable in monetary terms such as medical bills, lost wages, cost of medication, cost of living aids, etc. 

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are not quantifiable in monetary terms and include pain and suffering, psychological pain, disfigurement, disability, etc. There are circumstances where punitive damages may apply, for example, where the accident resulted from gross negligence.

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