After a car accident, you may wonder how to file a lawsuit to get your damages. The answer to this question depends on state law and the nature of your accident.
Filing a Lawsuit After an Accident
After a car accident has occurred, there are several steps you need to take if you want to file a lawsuit:
- Collect as much information as possible at the scene of the accident. This includes an accident report by a police officer, the names of witnesses and of the other parties involved in the accident, and details about what occurred. If possible, take photos at the scene as they may help your case later
- Get medical attention immediately, and keep records of all medical costs and of your injuries. Photographs can also help. The photos and medical records will prove the nature and extent of your injuries and can also be used to show how much you spent on medical bills so you can be fully compensated
- Research your state law. In some states, called no fault states, you can only file a lawsuit if your injuries are sufficiently "serious." The definition of serious injuries can vary slightly from state to state, but usually if your injuries were very expensive to treat or if they caused you some type of permanent disability or disfigurement (or led to death) then a lawsuit is appropriate. In other states, you can file a lawsuit no matter how serious or minor your injuries are.
- Find a competent attorney. Your lawyer will need to do the legal paperwork for you. There are specific rules, referred to as rules of civil procedure, that limit the particular court you can file in (the court has to have jurisdiction over the case) and then limit the time limit you have to file. You also need to file all your documents and evidence appropriately in accordance with the rules of the court and ensure the defendant has proper notice. This is all very complicated for a person without a legal background to do, and you'll want to make sure you hire a lawyer to do it right so you don't make any mistakes that will prevent you from being able to recover.
Get Legal Help
It is important to hire a qualified attorney as soon as you can after the accident if you know you are going to file a lawsuit. Your attorney can guide you through every step of how to file a lawsuit, making sure you comply with all legal requirements every step of the way.