After getting into a car accident, your biggest concerns are probably the pain from your injuries and how to pay for the costs. Medical treatment and vehicle damage are not cheap, even in some minor accidents. You might wonder if you can personally sue the at-fault driver for the damages they have caused you. While this may be an option, it’s (thankfully) not usually necessary.
The decision to sue someone after a car accident is not to be made lightly. You also typically go through the driver’s insurance company for reimbursement of your costs—not the driver him or herself. However, there are situations where your car accident lawyer may recommend a lawsuit.
Situations Where You Can Sue Someone Personally
If you have filed a personal injury claim to the at-fault driver for compensation of your damages and the insurer denies your claim, offers a lowball settlement, or refuses to negotiate, your next step may be a lawsuit against the driver. Most states won’t let you directly sue the insurance company.
If the at-fault driver is an uninsured driver, they will obviously not have an insurance company to send a claim to. In this situation, you will have two options:
1. Suing the Driver Personally
You have the right to sue the driver personally for your damages. The problem here is that most uninsured drivers don’t have the money or assets to draw upon during a lawsuit. Even if you win, you may not be able to recover much.
If you decide to sue, it’s best to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can look at your case and advise you on the best next steps. They can also let you know what your potential outcome might be if you go ahead with the lawsuit.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
Your second option after being hit by an uninsured driver is turning to your own insurance company. Most drivers have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage. This is optional insurance you can purchase with your policy, but most drivers have it unless they specifically opted out. It covers you up to a certain amount if you are hit by a driver without insurance (or without sufficient insurance).
Even with UM/UIM coverage, it may not be enough to cover your costs and you might want to seek damages from the at-fault driver. However, filing a lawsuit is something you should discuss with a lawyer who understands car accident laws in your area.
Below, we’ll outline the legal process after a car accident and when suing someone personally may be a good option.
Fault and Liability After a Car Accident
The most important factor in a Georgia car accident is fault. Here’s how it works:
- All drivers have a duty to act in a way that does not put other drivers in harm’s way on the road.
- If a driver fails in that duty, they have been negligent.
- When the driver’s negligence leads to a car accident with injuries and property damage, that driver is at fault.
Laws about liability and negligence will vary by state. Since Georgia is a fault state, the at-fault driver is responsible for all costs of the accident they caused.
According to Georgia Code section 51-1-6, a person who is injured by another person’s breach of legal duty has the right to recover damages they suffer. This means if you were hurt in a car accident another driver caused, you are likely entitled to seek compensation for your damages. (You are able to do this even if you hold partial fault in the accident—as long as you are not 50% or more at fault.)
Filing an Injury Claim
The first step in seeking compensation is by filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Once you do this, the insurer will assign fault and decide whether to accept your claim and pay the settlement you are requesting, deny your claim, or send a counter settlement offer.
Since insurance companies do not like to pay out much on car accident claims, they are most likely to either offer a lowball settlement or deny the claim. This is where a car accident lawyer can help you fight for your right to full compensation.
Negotiation with the Auto Insurance Company
Your lawyer can help you negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a fair settlement. Many times, if you have an experienced attorney, you and the insurer are able to reach an agreement. You would receive the settlement, and the case would be closed.
Sometimes, the insurance company won’t budge on what they’re willing (or not willing) to offer you. If extensive negotiation is still getting you nowhere close to covering your costs, you might consider suing the driver personally after the accident.
Suing Someone Personally After a Car Accident
If you do decide to personally sue the driver for your car accident, your time is limited. Georgia Code section 9-3-33 states you have “two years after the right of action accrues,” meaning you have two years from the date of your car accident to bring your case.
It’s vital that you get started as soon as possible. Many steps are involved in a lawsuit, and you may spend a lot of time waiting. Even if you do win your lawsuit and the other driver must pay you, you may not get the full compensation you deserve right away—if at all. There’s a whole process that requires the expertise of a car accident lawyer.
Talk to a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today
If you are worried about getting the compensation you need and deserve after a car accident, contact John Foy & Associates. During a FREE consultation, we can look at the details of your case and determine the best course of action for you. If that involves suing someone personally after your accident, we will be there every step of the way.
We have been helping car accident victims win the money they need for over 20 years. We know what it takes to win a successful case from start to finish. Don’t suffer alone after your car accident. To schedule your FREE consultation today, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.