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When an auto accident results in an injury, the injury victim may be able to file a lawsuit depending on how the accident happened. Generally, whoever is at-fault for the car accident will be legally liable to the injured person.
Before a lawsuit is filed, frequently the at-fault party's insurance carrier may want to try to negotiate a settlement. If settlement negotiations fail, then it may be time to file a lawsuit. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about car accident injury lawsuits.
1. When to File a Lawsuit?
Each state has a different statute of limitations by which a lawsuit must be filed. Don't delay filing your case even if you are negotiating with an insurance company. If you miss the statute of limitations, your case is over.
2. What's My Case Worth?
Car accident and other injury cases can vary wildly in terms of value. Some major impacts can result in minor injuries, while some minor impacts can result in major injuries. Additionally, a high-wage earner will be entitled to more compensation for missed work than others. Regardless, a case's value will usually be determined by the severity of the injury, as well as the severity of the recovery. There is no magic formula to figuring out a case's value.
3. Who Do I Sue?
Frequently, injury victims get turned around when it comes to who to sue. In a car accident case, you want to sue the person who caused the accident, and if more than one driver caused the accident, then both should be (may need to be) sued. A somewhat common pitfall is that because victims are often negotiating with insurance companies, when they file suit without a lawyer, the insurance company gets named instead of the at-fault driver(s).
4. Do I Need a Lawyer?
While many people want to handle their legal matters on their own, hiring a lawyer is usually a smart business decision. Although an attorney will cost money, nearly all injury attorneys do not charge upfront fees. Additionally, attorneys will usually be able to justify their cost as they will ensure you assert every cognizable claim for recovery, as well as make sure you do not sell yourself short by settling without considering medical liens or other outstanding and related debts.
5. How Long Will My Case Take?
Depending on your specific court, injury lawsuits can take anywhere from one to two years to resolve, with more complex cases potentially taking even longer. This is in addition to the time from the date of the accident that a case is not active in court. For instance, in California, where a person has two years to file an injury claim, an injury case could take 4 years or more to go from date of injury to a final jury verdict.