The Process of a Car Accident Lawsuit

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A car accident lawsuit normally is filed when the victim of a car accident does not believe he can get full recovery with an out-of-court settlement. A lawsuit may be filed if the responsible party's insurance company isn't offering a fair settlement amount, or if the victim believes he deserves a larger amount for pain and suffering or even for punitive damages.


The process of a car accident lawsuit may vary by state. In some states- called no fault states- a lawsuit is appropriate only if the nature of the injuries is severe. Severity is determined by different thresholds, but often the nature of the injury or the monetary value of the injuries is key in determining whether you can sue if you live in a no fault state or not. In every state, no fault or comparative fault, the lawsuit must be filed within the statute of limitations, which can range from one to two years. Before even filing a lawsuit, the victim must check the laws in his state to ensure he is eligible to sue under these rules.

Filing the Lawsuit in Court

The victim then needs to file the appropriate motion or papers with the court in question. The specific types of papers that must be filed and the information contained within generally has to be very specific. The victim has to state his claim and the facts of the case, as well as the legal grounds for his action. The papers must also be filed with the appropriate court- only certain courts have jurisdiction or the right to hear a car accident case. It is imperative you hire a personal injury or car accident attorney to do this for you, lest you file papers incorrectly or leave out information that is detrimental to your case.

Building a Case

The next step involves building a case. This includes getting expert witnesses, giving depositions (formal interviews with your attorney or the defense attorney), taking depositions (interviewing witnesses and experts to find out what they are going to say in court) and otherwise collecting evidence to prove the elements of your car accident claim. This period is referred to as the discovery period. 

Discovery and Settlement Negotiations

Often during discovery, the insurance company will offer you a settlement. Many cases do not make it to court because it is too risky for both sides to leave their fate entirely in the hands of a jury. Your car accident attorney will help you to decide it settlement is right for you or not. If you decide not to settle, your case will go to trial and you will need to prove both that the other party was negligent, and that this negligence caused your injury and damages.

Have Legal Representation

If you are considering a car accident lawsuit, speak to an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process of a car accident lawsuit and can help you decide when to settle or help you build your case.