How Do I Sue Someone After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, you should seek a car accident lawyer to help file a lawsuit against the person responsible for causing the crash. Your attorney will handle the investigation of the case, the collection of evidence, and the drafting and filing of the legal documents in a civil courthouse. There are a few things you will need to do in order to support this process. Your lawyer will guide you through it step by step.
Assessing fault for the accident
The first step in filing a lawsuit after a car accident is to determine which party is at fault for the crash. California is a fault-based or tort state regarding accident lawsuits. This means it’s necessary to prove the other party was at fault. Your lawyer will start by asking you some questions about the crash. Provide all details you can remember, even if you don’t think they are relevant to the case.
Your lawyer will also need to review all available physical evidence. You will need to obtain a copy of the police report, for example. It’s also helpful for crash victims to take photos of the scene and the damage to the vehicles immediately after the crash. Furthermore, it’s advisable to approach nearby witnesses and ask for their names and contact information. They may be called upon to provide a statement later on.
In addition to reviewing the information you provide and contacting eyewitnesses, your lawyer will search for other physical evidence. This may include surveillance footage or cellphone records that may indicate the other driver was distracted immediately prior to the crash.
Ideally, the evidence may show that the other driver was entirely to blame for the accident. However, even if you may have partially contributed to the crash (such as by speeding), you may still file a lawsuit. This is because California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that accident victims can secure compensation if the other driver was even one percent at fault for the crash. Your compensation will be adjusted by the percentage that you were found at fault.
Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver
After reviewing all evidence and assessing fault, your personal injury lawyer will prepare the lawsuit and file it in court. The lawsuit will request compensation for your economic, or calculable losses. These include your medical expenses, lost wages (missed time at work because of your injuries), property damage, and ongoing care needs. It’s important to keep a careful record of all of your losses, even after the lawsuit is filed. Provide your attorney with copies of receipts for pharmacy co-pays and hospital bills, for instance.
Your lawsuit may also request non-economic damages. These are more difficult to quantify. They include losses such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and permanent disfigurement. In general, the greater your injuries are, the more likely you are to obtain non-economic damages.
Resolving the lawsuit
After filing the lawsuit, your attorney may engage in settlement talks with the counsel for the defendant. You may be offered a settlement deal, which means you would agree to accept a sum of money in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. If you accept the settlement, your case would not go to trial. If you decide the settlement offer is too low, your case will go to trial.
During a trial, your attorney will ask you questions on the stand, question expert witnesses, and present evidence designed to prove the other party liable for the crash. The trial may result in a jury award (compensation for you) or not. It’s also possible for the defendant to extend a new, higher settlement offer at any point during the trial.
Ellis Injury Law can file a lawsuit on your behalf in CA
With a successful track record of winning complex personal injury cases, Ellis Injury Law is here to help you through this difficult time in your life. Contact a car accident attorney in Southern California and we’ll get to work on your case right away. The initial consultation is free and we never charge a fee unless we secure compensation on your behalf. Even if you think you may be partially at fault for the crash, we may still be able to file a lawsuit for you. Call us today to request a consultation.