How to File a Car Accident Lawsuit

At least 38,800 people die each year in the U.S. from car accidents. They’re the leading cause of severe injury or death.

If you’re luckily still here to tell the story, there might be emotional and physical pain. It can be difficult to think about the fear of getting behind the wheel again or having to go back to work like nothing happened.

Then there are mounting hospital bills to help you get better. All of this can cause you to feel like you’re drowning and unsure where to turn.

Thankfully, there’s hope for the future. There are essential steps to take to help you receive the care you need and deserve. Read this guide on how to file a car accident lawsuit today.

When To File A Lawsuit

When a fair settlement can’t be reached, the next step is a lawsuit. Most states will allow you to move forward with this process.

The good news is that many personal injury claims settle without a trial or lawsuit. If you can’t reach a fair settlement with the other driver, then it might be time for a lawsuit.

No-fault states don’t allow you to file a car accident case lawsuit against the driver. The only way you can is if the injuries or medical expenses meet specific state requirements.

Representing Yourself

Finding a local accident lawyer is best, but you can represent your own case. Before you begin, you’ll need to know your state’s rules of civil procedure and evidence.

These rules can be difficult to understand and apply. It can be difficult to become familiar with these when injured in a car accident.

An auto accident lawyer can help you win. Consider that the other driver will likely hire a lawyer as well. While courts will try to be understanding when you represent yourself, repeated mistakes could mean trouble.

Filing With A Lawyer

A lawyer can help you file a suit. They can let you know if they feel you have a case and how much you can expect.

Lawyers will discuss the pros and cons of filing a suit. They’ll also go over if you decide to go with a settlement. A lawyer will need to go over the details of the incident before advising you.

Get Police Reports

Before you file a complaint, it’s vital that you get the police report. This report is usually taken at the car accident by the officer.

The report includes a summary of the incident, facts, and evidence from the scene. It could include other important information.

Your attorney and insurance company will use the police report for evidence. This will help decide who is at fault and what coverage you might receive.

When you first provide information for the police report, you might not be aware of how bad your injuries are. Some injuries can be hidden, so it’s vital that you see a doctor.

Document Everything

Before meeting with your attorney, document everything. From medical appointments to car repairs, everything related to the car accident needs to be written down. This information will help your attorney calculate how much money you deserve.

File A Complaint

First, you’ll file a complaint with the court. Some states call it a petition.

The complaint states why the defendant is responsible for the person injured in the car accident. It also states the basic facts of the case, such as where and when it occurred.

The complaint will also state the parties involved in the case. Lastly, it’ll state the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Potential damages could include:

  • Loss of earning
  • Disfigurement
  • Medical expenses
  • Property damages
  • Mental consequences
  • Punitive damages
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering
  • And more

Should You File A Lawsuit?

You might be the under the impression that you should file a lawsuit after an accident. This isn’t your only choice. Most cases are handled with a settlement.

Some settlement benefits include:

  • Avoiding the risk of losing
  • Avoid high court fees
  • Avoid having to go to trial

You’ll also receive money much quicker than going to court. Courts could take an undetermined amount of time. Many states don’t have a deadline for when a jury needs to make a decision.

If there’s proof that the other driver is at fault, then suing after a car accident could occur. There needs to be proof of your injuries.

Components Of A Lawsuit

First, you need proof that the other driver violated the duty of care. A duty of care is that everyone on the road needs to drive safely, obey traffic laws, etc.

There needs to be proof of the injuries or damages from the crash. Proof that the collision caused these consequences.

Next, due to the driver’s negligence is the reason for the crash. The crash then caused the injury or damages you experienced.

Seek Medical Attention

The first necessary component is to gather evidence and receive medical attention after the accident. Try to collect as much information as possible. This will help your attorney build a case for you.

Evidence can include police reports, medical records, pieces of information, pay stubs, etc. Next, you’ll reach out to an auto accident lawyer.

If you’re unsure whether to choose a settlement or lawsuit, an attorney can help. They’ll discuss the chances of compensation and how much you could receive.

Investigation Time

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, an attorney will ask you to see the evidence and medical files. The attorney’s job is to better understand the consequences of the accident and what you’re experiencing.

Your lawyer might speak with the authorities, investigate the crash scene, conduct interviews, and obtain other necessary documents. They might also speak with engineers, mechanics, or medical specialists.

The Discovery Process

After you file a lawsuit, the discovery process occurs. If you have a lawyer, they can file the suit for you.

Once it’s been filed and a hearing date is set, it’s on to the discovery stage. Both parties share evidence, information, and documentation during this stage.

Your lawyer might request information through written questions. A deposition is another way to obtain information.

Attorneys often speak with experts or eyewitnesses during this phase. They might be called upon for a deposition testimony.

Testimonies are formal statements that can be recorded. After recording them, they might be used in court.

Possible Mediation

A mediator might come in to help both parties with the lawsuit. They’ll try to find an agreement between the both of you. If you don’t reach a settlement, it’ll go to trial.

Even if your case goes to trial, you could still settle. A jury will listen to both sides and decide.

While the case could take only a few days, the jury doesn’t usually have a mandatory timeline. Many states will require a certain majority of the jury to agree for a verdict to be met. Once the verdict is met, the judge will read it.

Car Accident Counterclaims

No matter who is at fault, it’s likely that both parties sustained injuries or damages. The other party could still receive compensation by filing a counterclaim.

If a claim is against you, you can respond and defend yourself through a counterclaim. It can help you recover damages, including emotional harm, property damage, and other injuries.


If one person isn’t happy with the outcome of the trial, they can appeal the case. There are various levels of appeals, but they tend to be expensive and take a while.

Some people might use an appeal to try to convince the other person to reach a settlement. The settlement amount might happen faster, but it’s usually for less.

Lawsuit Values

Your car accident lawsuit value can vary. This will depend on the injuries and the severity of the damages.

Injuries in the soft tissue of the neck and back are harder to prove. If you have a broken bone or require surgery, they’re easier to prove.

Mild to moderate injuries could receive a compensation of a few thousand up to hundreds of thousands. In contrast, severe injuries could be millions. It’s important to speak with your attorney to see how much you can realistically receive.

How Long the Lawsuit Takes

After your lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf, the insurance company might offer you a settlement at once. If they decide to fight your claims, it could take over a year before the case is in trial.

There are pre-trial motions that might occur as part of the lawsuit. For example, there could be a change of venue. This is when you ask the court to move to another city, county, or court.

You or the other party might ask for a different judge. There’s also the potential for it to move from state to federal court. Lastly, you might ask the judge to throw out your lawsuit.

Even after going through the pre-trial motions, you might still need to wait a year for the case. After the discovery phase is when the trial can occur.

Will It End In A Settlement?

Most car accident claims end in a settlement. Most settle before the lawsuit is filed.

Settlements can vary. If you file a claim for an accident, they might be offered.

Insurance companies will look at the loss of income, medical expenses, losses from the car crash, car replacement, etc. They might look at your pain and suffering as well.

While they might offer you a settlement, you don’t have to accept the first offer. Keep in mind that if you do decide to sue, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a higher amount.

Choose a lawyer who has plenty of experience in car accidents. They can help you decide whether to accept or reject the terms.

How Long Do You Have To File A Lawsuit?

The U.S. sees 6 million car accidents per year. Most states will give you a certain period to file a lawsuit. While you don’t have to file a lawsuit at once, it might be a good idea when the information is fresh.

If you don’t file within that period, your ability to sue the other driver diminishes. You’ll need to cover all damages on your own.

Due to the statute of limitations for each state, it’s best to file as soon as possible. It’ll be more likely to be a successful case that way.

After an accident, it’s best to get the insurance information from the other driver. This includes their policy number, the make and model of their car, contact details, etc.

If you have an attorney, you can ask them how to move forward with the insurance company. Some attorneys will contact the insurance company on your behalf.

Even if you haven’t completed an insurance claim yet, it’s a good idea to have an attorney. Let the attorney do their job since waiting to file can make it more difficult to get in touch with the other driver.

Understanding A Car Accident Lawsuit

This guide provides you with an overview of a car accident lawsuit and how to get started filing. While you can do it alone, it’s best to speak with an attorney.

They have the knowledge and experience necessary for your best bet. Before meeting with the attorney, have all documents and keep a notebook to write notes.

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