If you’ve suffered injuries, financial losses, or non-economic losses in an auto collision, you might be wondering if you can sue someone personally when they cause a car accident. The short answer is “yes,” you can certainly take the at-fault driver to court after a crash.
That said, there might be other avenues for pursuing compensation that could be more beneficial for you to explore. An experienced Indiana car accident lawyer can explain your options and, if filing a lawsuit is your best course of action, ensure your suit is filed properly.
How to Sue the Party that Caused Your Car Accident Personally
To file a successful suit, you’ll have to take a number of different actions and measures, all geared towards proving that the at-fault party should be held liable for your injuries and losses. However, taking all the steps required to file a winning lawsuit can be extremely difficult if you’re recovering from injuries and dealing with the emotional trauma of an accident.
Luckily, you have the option to hire a personal injury attorney to help you sue the person who caused your car accident. To make sure your suit is as strong as possible, your lawyer will investigate your accident and use the evidence they find to construct a winning lawsuit.
During the investigation, your lawyer will gather the following pieces of evidence:
- The official crash report
- Photos of the accident scene
- Footage of the incident sourced from nearby traffic cameras
- Eyewitness testimony
- Accident reconstructionist testimony
- Your medical records and testimony
Your Attorney Must Prove Liability to Sue Someone Personally for a Car Accident
Once your attorney has gathered all the evidence they can, they’ll use it to prove that the person who caused your car accident should be held liable for your losses. Proving liability involves the following four steps:
Duty of Care
First, your car accident must show that the driver who caused your collision owed you a duty of care when the crash occurred. If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase “duty of care,” think of it as a legal obligation that all drivers have to drive in a way that protects others from foreseeable harm.
To prove this aspect of liability, your lawyer must simply prove that you and the at-fault driver were sharing the road at the time of the accident. Logically speaking, if you were both driving in the same vicinity at the time of the incident, the at-fault driver had a legal requirement, or duty of care, to drive in a reasonable and safe fashion.
Breach of Duty
Once your lawyer has established that the offending driver owed you a duty of care, the next step in the process is proving that they breached that duty of care. To do so, your attorney may use evidence that shows the at-fault party was driving negligently at the time of the accident.
Negligent driving can refer to a number of different unsafe driving behaviors, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Ignoring traffic signs or stop lights
- Driving recklessly
- Breaking another rule of the road
These are just a few examples of negligent driving behavior that your attorney could point to when establishing the at-fault party’s breach of the duty of care. As long as your lawyer has evidence that the other driver was acting in a way that put you in danger, it’s likely that they’ll be able to complete this step.
Next, your attorney must prove that the at-fault driver’s negligent actions were the direct cause of the collision. They may use evidence such as eyewitness testimony, and accident reconstructionist reports to prove causation.
Lastly, your lawyer will need to show that the collision caused you to suffer injuries and/or monetary losses. This is an important step of the process, as it shows that your losses were caused by the accident in question, not a separate incident.
Once your lawyer has completed all four steps, they’ll be able to sue the person who caused your car accident and will likely be able to recover the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and other expenses.
Alternative to Suing the At-Fault Party After a Car Accident
While filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party can result in an overwhelmingly positive outcome, there may be an easier way for you to get the compensation you deserve after a collision. Instead of undergoing what could be a long-term legal process that may require you to appear in court and provide testimony, you could file an insurance claim instead.
If the driver who caused your car accident has an auto collision liability policy, your attorney can file a claim against it. Then, they’ll negotiate with the insurance adjusters who work for the at-fault party’s insurer. While negotiations may take some time to come to a conclusion, they most likely won’t last as long as a court case.
Once your lawyer has come to an agreement with the insurance company, you’ll ideally receive a settlement that covers all of your economic and non-economic losses. That said, whether you pursue compensation via a lawsuit or insurance claim, your lawyer will work tirelessly to obtain the following damages on your behalf:
- Current, ongoing, and future medical expenses
- Cost of ambulance transportation and emergency hospitalization
- Cost of physical therapy and other out-of-pocket medical costs
- Vehicle repair expenses
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer
Now that you know more about suing someone personally after they cause a car accident, it’s time to get started on your case. To take the first step toward a life-changing settlement, contact the friendly and experienced attorneys at Vaughan & Vaughan.
A lawyer from our legal team will meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your accident and let you know if you should move forward with an insurance claim or lawsuit. If they agree to help you seek damages, they’ll take all the steps required to obtain a fair payment for your injuries and financial losses.