After a Car Accident, What to Expect From a Lawsuit

Anyone who has suffered injury or damage to their vehicle as a result of a car accident must decide whether to file a lawsuit. As a general rule, hiring a lawyer will cost about a third of whatever the settlement is. Dealing with the insurance company directly could result in a much lower settlement.

The goal of a lawsuit is to put the person and property in the same position they were in before the accident. This is called restitution. A car accident can cause injuries, loss of work and damage to the vehicle. Pain and suffering may also be taken into account.

The medical costs of the plaintiff will form part of the lawsuit, so the attorney will advise their client to provide itemized medical bills including all visits to the doctor as well as the emergency room and any physiotherapy afterwards. The costs of diagnostic tests and x-rays must be included. The claimant should be advised to make their attorney aware of any previous injuries similar to those suffered in the accident.

The part of the lawsuit dealing with lost work may result in questions concerning recovery time. If it is felt that this has been extended unnecessarily, it will be queried by the defendant’s insurance company.

Damage to the vehicle will be assessed by an independent assessor, who will determine whether all the damage occurred as a result of the accident. If the cost of repairing the car is considered to be greater than its value, then the defendant’s insurers will offer a price based on the cost of a similar vehicle. The plaintiff may also sue for car hire costs while they were unable to drive the vehicle.

Most attorneys try to settle their client’s lawsuit without going to court. If the accident victim feels they should be compensated for pain and suffering, it may not be possible to avoid court. The lawyer will seek compensation based on accepted practices and take into account any aggravating circumstances such as drunk-driving. The court will then decide whether this is a reasonable part of the lawsuit.

In extreme cases, a judge may grant a higher award because of permanent loss or injury.

Emotional damage is often part of a lawsuit. This is difficult to determine even in court, and in general, large sums are not awarded for this. An accident victim who feels very angry about the other driver may ask for punitive damages. The court has to have clear evidence of serious fault against one driver before they will award this.

Even with a reasonable settlement at law, accident victims often feel that the goal of returning them to the state they were in before the accident has not been achieved as a result of the lawsuit.