Car Accident Lawsuit Timeline
Exchange Driver Information
The first thing to do is exchange information with the other party. Both drivers should provide identity, contact, and insurance information.
It is important that you share information with the other party regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
Seek Medical Treatment
Always seek treatment, as needed, immediately after a car accident. Often, car accident symptoms may not present immediately. It is important to get checked out to avoid further pain or injury in the future.
Get An Auto Accident Lawyer
For any accident involving injury, it is important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. They will help you get medical treatment and pursue your personal injury claim.
Keep Up Treatment
Even after initial treatment for your injuries, it’s important to continue regular treatment for any injuries resulting from the accident. In addition to helping you get better, treating upfront for your injuries helps both sides understand and agree on the value of your injury claim.
Personal Injury Lawyer Sends A Demand
Once you’ve completed treatment for your injury or reached a maximum point in your medical improvement, your attorney can work to settle your claim. Typically, the first step towards settling a lawsuit is sending a demand letter.
Sometimes, the demand letter is enough to settle your car accident claim. Your attorney will help you negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company to determine a fair settlement amount. If they cannot come to an agreement, or if the defendant denies liability, your attorney will likely have to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Attorney Files A Personal Injury Lawsuit
Finally, your attorney files a lawsuit. Once this happens, you go through:
- Discovery – basically information sharing between both sides
- Mediation and negotiation – another chance to settle your lawsuit before trial
- Trial – a judge or jury helps both sides determine the outcome of your claim
Auto Accident Lawsuits FAQ
Be sure to collect and provide the following information to the other party.
License Plate Numbers
All Make/Model/Years/Color of all vehicles involved
All Vehicle Registration Numbers
All Driver’s License Numbers
Photos of involved vehicles
If the other party refuses to give information or flees, it is important to call the police as soon as possible
You’ll need to be in contact with the police department which responded to the scene of the accident. If the accident occurred in a town or city, this is likely going to be the local police department.
Many departments require the completion of a records request form and some charge records retrieval fees. Some allow you to submit online while others require you to submit in person.
If you have already enlisted the help of an attorney for your auto accident claim, they will usually handle this.
Car accident lawsuits can be very complicated and context-specific. If you can contact an attorney, many will offer a free consultation and evaluation of a case and give you advice on the appropriate next steps.
To qualify for funding from us, you’ll need to have an attorney who can administer your funds or hold them in a trust.
Though it is possible to represent yourself in court, a majority of pro se cases do not fare well on their own, and many attorneys prefer to see a case through from start-to-finish, so getting an attorney before you handle any legal work for an auto accident lawsuit yourself is highly advisable.
Before you look into a car accident lawsuit, you’ll need to assess the situation and see if anyone was injured.
You may need to call an ambulance at 911 if someone is hurt. Do not worry about collecting their information if their life is at risk. Human life is more important than any potential auto accident lawsuit you may have.
Move your vehicle out of the way of oncoming traffic (if possible) and call the police to file and accident report—especially if there’s significant property damage, serious injury, or death.
If the situation is not life-threatening or otherwise urgent, it would be wise to use your local police station’s non-emergency line.
Once all of this is sorted out, then you should begin obtaining information from the other party involved in your accident, witnesses, and anything else that may be [evidence]( https://www.dmv.org/accident-guide/car-accident-faq.php “DMV Car Accident FAQ”).
Do not leave the scene unless you are injured and are being transported to the hospital for immediate attention. This may result in hit-and-run charges.
Never admit fault for an accident. This is not up to you to decide! Facts that come up later during a car accident lawsuit may reveal details of which you were not aware and other circumstances that could have led to the auto accident.
For information about your policies, you should contact your insurance company directly.
If the other party is insured, try asking about their insurance coverage. Do they have liability insurance? Property damage coverage? Comprehensive coverage?, etc.
If they do not have insurance, then it could potentially present a problem for any auto accident lawsuit which you file against them. That would mean that their personal assets would be available for liquidation in order to pay damages to you.
If they do not have enough personal assets, then they may have to declare bankruptcy and you will not be awarded damages to which you would otherwise be entitled from your car accident lawsuit.
Under-insured or uninsured motorist coverage is very handy in situations such as these, whereby it reserves your right to demand compensation from the uninsured motorist in any auto accident lawsuit.
The essential two parts of any lawsuit are liability and damages.
[Liability]( https://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1151 “Law.com Definition”) is the basis of a case. Liability is the responsibility of a party for their own actions or lack of actions.
If I have a duty to not hit your trash cans with my car, for example, but I hit them on my way to work in the morning, then I am “liable” or responsible for that action.
But would something as little as dinging a trash can be worth suing over? [Damages]( https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/damages “Legal Information Institute Definition”) are remedies awarded to a harmed party, usually in monetary form, and are often only awarded if liability is clear.
Though I might be liable for breaking my duty to not hit your trash cans, you would likely waste a lot of money in legal fees trying to recover a very small amount of money in a car accident law suit, if any for those injuries.
If, on the other hand, I break my duty to not drive on the wrong side of the road, hit you, and you break your arm—then there is clear liability and substantial damages in any auto accident lawsuit against me due to your medical expenses and pain and suffering (among other things).
The [Statute of Limitations]( http://statelaws.findlaw.com/california-law/california-civil-statute-of-limitations-laws.html “FindLaw Statute of Limitations Chart”) on personal injury claims is two years in California, so you have until exactly 2 years from the date of the accident to have a car accident lawsuit complaint on file.
You do not need to have the case settled or otherwise completed within two years—the initiation of your auto accident lawsuit with the filing of a complaint is sufficient.
Similarly, the other party has 2 years to-the-day to file a complaint in a car accident lawsuit against you for an accident.
As long as you can establish clear liability on behalf of the other party, then the following types of damages may be awarded to you from any car accident lawsuit:
Medical Expenses: these may be already incurred, or yet-to-be-incurred, bills related to injuries alleged in your auto accident lawsuit.
Lost Wages: Being out of work can result in job loss or reduced future earnings capacity. This is subject to proof and confirmation by your (potentially former) employer.
Pain and Suffering: money awarded for physical, mental, and emotional pain wrought from the injuries alleged in your car accident lawsuit.
Disfigurement: permanent injuries
Wrongful Death: available for the death of a spouse or other family member of the deceased.
Damage to Marital Relationship: injuries are stressful as are the car accident lawsuits which follow them. This can put strain on a marriage and even lead to divorce.
Punitive Damages: awarded by the court for especially heinous behaviors—ones that are found through your auto accident lawsuit to be criminally reckless, negligent, or flagrant.
Car Accident Statistics
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 37,000 people die in the U.S. each year from road crashes, and an additional 2.35 million are otherwise injured or disabled.
Road deaths are one of the biggest causes of death in the U.S., and with more miles on the road than ever before, they’ll likely continue to be a source of pain and suffering for a lot of Americans.
As our legal system becomes more and more full of cases, auto accident lawsuits are taking longer and longer to get to trial or even settle out of court. It’s difficult to say how long it may take to have your case heard before a judge or get to a point in an auto accident lawsuit where a deal can be made.
Many plaintiff-side attorneys work with their clients to provide their services on a contingency basis. That means that you don’t have to pay the attorney until you win the lawsuit. Then, the attorney will take a chunk of your winnings for costs and another chunk for attorney’s fees.
This set-up works great, especially considering people who decide to initiate auto accident lawsuits are often in tough positions financially. Many face imminent job loss, mounting medical bills, and relentless rent payments.
That’s why car accident funding companies like Provident Legal Funding can be so useful. It’s a fast, simple, and cheap way to help keep up until you get paid.