Do I Have to File a Lawsuit To Recover Damages After a Car Accident?

Car accidents in Los Angeles can be expensive. Fortunately, you can obtain compensation if someone else caused your injuries. How do you get the money you deserve? Will you have to file a lawsuit to recover damages? These are questions accident victims frequently raise when meeting with our attorneys for the first time.

Insurance Is the Primary Source of Compensation After an Accident

Most accident victims don’t have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation after a Los Angeles car accident. In California, insurance should be primarily responsible for taking care of your accident-related costs. You’ll need to file an insurance claim with the company that represents the person who caused your accident. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you can file a claim to recover benefits from your own uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, if you have one.

Keep in mind that insurance companies won’t be eager to pay for your accident-related costs. In fact, they’ll do anything they can to deny you the compensation you deserve. It’s important to make sure that you:

  • Notify an insurer about an accident as soon as you can, AND
  • Submit your claim within a reasonable time after the accident.

Failing to do either of these things could jeopardize your insurance claim. Companies reserve the right to deny your claim if you fail to file it on time.

Once your insurance claim is submitted, the company will review your request and, if it’s clear that their driver is at fault, extend a settlement offer. This offer will probably be low and be for much less than you deserve. You have the right to reject their number and counter with an offer of your own.

You may go back and forth a few times with the insurance company, trying to negotiate a fair deal. At some point in time, the company will extend its final offer. If you accept it, the claim will be closed and you’ll get a check. If you decline the offer, you’ll have to consider filing a lawsuit.

When Might I Need to File a Car Accident Lawsuit?

While insurance is the primary source of compensation after an accident, it’s not the only one. You have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against anyone who caused your injuries. There are many situations in which it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit after your car accident.

  • The at-fault party’s insurance company denied your claim for benefits without justification.
  • The at-fault party’s insurance company failed to offer a reasonable settlement.
  • Your injuries are so severe that your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits.
  • The at-fault party was uninsured or underinsured at the time of the accident.
  • The at-fault driver did not have a valid insurance policy.

In other words, you can file a lawsuit if an insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair deal or if your accident-related costs are so high that they exceed what’s covered by a policy.

How Do I Know If I Need to File a Lawsuit After My Accident?

Should you file an insurance claim or pursue compensation with a lawsuit? Is one option better suited for your specific situation than the other? The answer will ultimately depend on the details of your case. The best thing you can do after an accident is to call an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will be able to analyze your case and explain your legal rights. They’ll help you understand the best options for your personal injury case.

Personal injury claims can be complicated. If you try to navigate your case on your own, you risk violating important rules and procedures. This could jeopardize your ability to recover comepnsation. Working with an attorney who has experience negotiating insurance claims and litigating personal injury cases will put you in the best position to get the money you deserve.