Getting into a car accident is always upsetting, and it can be absolutely devastating if you are injured. Injuries can cause intense pain, and you may have to endure multiple doctor’s visits and physical therapy. If another person’s negligence caused your injuries, it is only natural for you to want them to pay for the damages they caused.
There are some circumstances under which you may sue a negligent driver for damages. Before you file a lawsuit, you will normally file an insurance claim.
Insurance Law in California
There are two types of insurance rules in the United States; fault and no-fault. In a no-fault state, your insurance will pay for your injuries and damages to your car no matter who caused the collision. In a fault state, the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying its associated bills.
In many cases, more than one person is responsible for the accident. In some states, a person can only recover money if they were less than 50% to blame for the accident. California is a pure comparative fault state, which means that you can recover damages even if the other driver was only 10% responsible for the accident.
The Golden State requires that drivers carry bodily injury liability insurance of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum. They must have property damage liability coverage of $5,000 minimum.
You do not need to have uninsured motorist coverage. However, insurance companies are required to offer $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum. They must also offer property damage coverage of $3,500 minimum.
When You Can Sue
If the cost of your injuries exceeds the amount of money for which a driver is covered, you may want to talk to a car accident lawyer in Fresno about a lawsuit. When your injuries are very severe, or you have been disfigured as the result of a collision, you can file a lawsuit.
If you have lost the function of an organ or body part, you will have a viable suit against the at-fault driver. You can also sue for emotional pain and suffering if your accident has caused you to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other psychological conditions.
Can I sue an uninsured driver?
The state of California may not require uninsured driver coverage, but it is an awfully good idea to have it. You can try to sue an uninsured motorist, but there is a good chance you won’t get any money. You may find it difficult to get an attorney to represent you in such a case.
Product Liability Lawsuits
There are some cases in which an accident may not be the fault of any of the drivers involved. There may be a fault with the vehicle itself.
If many people get in accidents when driving the same make and model of vehicle, there may be something wrong with the way the vehicle was designed, manufactured, or marketed. When you talk to an attorney, you may want to ask them if there is any research to indicate that one of the vehicles in the accident had a dangerous flaw.
If you have lost a loved one to an accident, you may want to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You will have two years from the time of the accident to file such a suit. You can request funds for the cost of the funeral and the lost income that has resulted from the accident. You can also sue for loss of companionship.
There are only certain people who can file a wrongful death claim in California. You must be the spouse, child, parent, or ex-spouse of the decedent in order to recover damages. In some cases, siblings may be able to file a suit.
Things You Can do to Ensure a Successful Claim or Lawsuit
You can do a few things to provide your attorney with the tools they will need for negotiations with an insurance company or for evidence in a courtroom.
When you are involved in a crash, you should pull over and see if anyone is injured. You should then call the police and wait for them to arrive. Take pictures if you can and get the names of any witnesses.
It is a good idea to go to the doctor even if you feel fine. Some injuries do not manifest right away. You will want to save every medical bill that you have, including those for alternative treatments. You should also save receipts for any medicines that you need to take.
Be sure to ask your employer to write a letter stating the number of hours you have missed from work and the amount of income you have lost. You should also document costs for housekeeping or babysitting that you have needed as a result of the accident.
Collect evidence along the way and hire a lawyer who specializes in personal injury. That way, you should have the tools needed for a successful lawsuit if one becomes necessary.