Car accident lawsuits are typically associated with injury victims. Even if you were not hurt, you can sue to recover damages after a car crash. A lawsuit might be necessary if your car was damaged and the insurance company refuses to pay you to repair or replace it.
To pursue this type of case, you will need to prove that the other driver caused the accident and the damage to your vehicle. Many car accident attorneys offer free case reviews, and they can help you understand if this is a good option for your situation.
Can I Sue Someone for Damaging My Car?
If you are not injured, you can sue someone for damaging your car and any other property in it. If the damage isn’t serious, you may be able to take your case to small claims court.
You’ll want to check the limits for small claims courts in your state to find out if your case qualifies. If the damages are greater than the small claims court allows and an insurer won’t settle, you may need to file a civil court claim.
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Can You Sue for Negligence Without Injury?
When someone fails to exercise care and their negligence causes an injury or property damage, you have the legal right to sue for compensation. You do not have to be physically injured to end up with monetary damages after a car accident.
For example, a drunk driver could have sideswiped or rear-ended you without causing injuries. But a DUI accident lawyer can still advocate for your rights and hold that drunk motorist liable for their negligence.
If you didn’t sustain any injuries, a traffic accident can still leave you with damages like emotional trauma. In some cases, you can file a claim for this as well.
Understanding Car Accident Insurance Claims and Lawsuits
After most collisions, the victim will file an insurance claim to recover compensation for the damages they suffered. This claim often includes:
- Medical care costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
If you were not hurt in the accident, these damages will not be available to you. However, you can still file an insurance claim to hold the at-fault party liable for your property damages, rental car costs, and related expenses.
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What You Need to Prove to File a Car Accident Claim
To hold another driver liable for the repair or replacement of your vehicle, you will need to prove negligence and fault. This evidence requires proving three things:
- The driver had a legal obligation to follow certain rules of the road.
- The driver failed to uphold this obligation and caused the accident.
- You suffered financial damages as a result of the accident.
A car accident attorney may be able to help you with the process of securing and preserving evidence to support your claim and negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance company. They can help ensure that the insurance company does undervalue your payout.
Navigating the Car Accident Claims Process for Property Damages
In most cases, victims of car accidents who do not suffer injuries recover compensation through the insurance claims process. The process is generally the same whether you handle it on your own or if you enlist the help of a lawyer to protect your rights. This process includes:
- Gathering your repair estimates, receipts, and other documentation of your losses
- Notifying the negligent driver’s auto liability insurance provider about the accident
- Working with the insurance company’s adjuster to provide evidence of your losses
- Connecting the adjuster with the auto repair shop where they will learn the cost of repairing your vehicle
What Happens After You’ve Estimated Your Car Accident Damages?
Once the insurance adjuster knows how much it may cost to repair your vehicle, one of three things will happen:
- The insurance company will offer to cover the cost of your auto repair.
- The insurance company will offer to cover the cost of replacing your totaled vehicle.
- The insurance company will offer much less than you need to repair or replace your vehicle and cover your other losses.
When the last option occurs, you may need to negotiate a just settlement or consider taking the case to court. Your attorney will likely take care of this process on your behalf if you are working with a car accident lawyer.
Is It Worth Suing After a Car Accident If I Am Not Injured?
Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” If you can recover the cost of your damages with an insurance claim, you may decide it isn’t worth your effort to sue the other driver. Most car accidents without injuries do not justify a lawsuit.
However, even without injuries, your case may warrant a lawsuit if you suffered abnormally high property damage that insurance will not compensate you for. Even if you walked away from a car wreck without injuries, you could be left with financial losses.
A New Orleans car accident attorney from the Morris Bart law firm can consult with you for free to go over the details of your case. Our team can review your accident-related expenses and calculate the total losses you suffered to assign a value to your case. We can determine whether you should file an insurance claim or pursue a lawsuit for compensation.
What If I Suffered Emotional Distress from the Car Accident?
Emotional distress refers to a severe reaction you may suffer after an accident. You may be experiencing emotional distress if you suffer from:
- Nightmares or flashbacks of the accident
- Panic attacks
- Severe anxiety
- Fear of driving
Even without injuries, your accident may have resulted in trauma. It’s important to speak with a doctor if you suffer any long-term effects following a collision. Not only do you need to seek treatment, but you may need to provide evidence of your emotional distress to include it in your car accident lawsuit.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue for a Car Accident?
While you may not need a lawyer to recover damages from an insurance claim, they may offer you a low settlement that doesn’t cover your losses from the accident. A lawyer could help you in that case.
Whether you pursue compensation from an insurance claim or a lawsuit, working with a lawyer can greatly benefit your situation. Your lawyer can:
- Gather evidence of the other driver’s negligence
- Advise you on the small claims court process
- File an insurance claim to pursue a payout to cover your car repair
- Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company
- Represent you in court if a lawsuit is necessary
A car accident attorney can review the merits of your case and determine how to proceed with your case. Your lawyer will also understand the claim settlement tactics insurance companies use to reduce your payout.
Make Sure You See a Doctor
Even if you do not believe you suffered injuries after a car accident, see a doctor. Only a physician can accurately assess your condition, and some injuries do not manifest symptoms until days or weeks after an accident. This can be the case with whiplash, for example, according to Mayo Clinic.
You need to prioritize your health, and seeing a doctor can also help your case. A lawyer can use your medical documents to link your injuries and losses to another party’s negligence. Plus, you don’t want to give an insurer any room to undervalue or deny your claim.
What to Do If You Get in a Car Accident Without Injuries
After you are involved in a traffic accident, you should get a full medical evaluation. You may appear fine, only to discover injuries later. When injuries go untreated, they can worsen over time.
You should also collect as much evidence from the accident as possible. The police officer who responds will provide an impartial description of the collision. You should also gather:
- Photos of both vehicles
- Photos of the accident scene
- Witness statements and contact information
- Your account of events
Your next step is deciding whether you will pursue compensation for your damages through an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Your lawyer can help you decide which path will give you the best outcome for your case.
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