Next to injuries and property damage, one of the chief worries for many people involved in a car accident is whether they are liable for a lawsuit. If you’ve never been in an accident or dealt with a lawsuit, the questions and anxieties around getting sued can be overwhelming.
Anyone facing a lawsuit or potential lawsuit will benefit from the most knowledgeable and experienced legal protection they can find. This informative guide will help you understand what to do if you have been sued after a car accident, how to protect yourself, and how an accident lawyer can help.
Common Reasons for Lawsuits After Car Accidents
Car accidents are traumatic events that cause serious injury and damage to property. In the most severe cases, a car accident can result in loss of livelihood, transportation, and serious emotional and psychological trauma. Automobile insurance is supposed to provide monetary compensation for these factors to both parties in the event of an accident. But if one of the parties decides they were not fairly compensated after the accident due to fault or negligence on the part of the other driver, they may file a lawsuit against the other party.
Common reasons for filing civil lawsuits after car accidents include:
- Gross negligence due to reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Uninsured or underinsured motorists
- Denied claims and inadequate insurance settlements
- Emotional distress
In some cases, the plaintiff in the lawsuit has merit, but in other situations, the lawsuit is unfounded. This is why it’s important to conduct a thorough discovery and investigation into the facts of the case.
What Happens When Someone Sues You
Accident victims in Florida have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for an automobile accident within four years. Most accident-related lawsuits will consist of the following process:
- The plaintiff will serve the defendant with notice of the lawsuit
- The defendant will need to respond to the summons or complaint within a timely manner
- The lawsuit will enter a discovery phase where both sides provide accounts of the accident and evidence to support the case
- The case will either be settled out of court between the parties or will go to court for judgment
- An individual party can be personally liable for damages if the amount owed to the plaintiff exceeds their insurance coverage
If you have been served with a personal injury lawsuit, one of the first steps is to contact your insurance company and send them a copy of the summons. Defendants in auto accident lawsuits can represent themselves, receive representation from their insurance, or hire their own legal representation.
What is a Settlement?
Most car accident lawsuits settle out of court because insurance companies want to avoid the expense of court litigation. In these situations, attorneys from both parties will negotiate an amount that both sides agree to save the time and money involved with court proceedings. In some cases, the settlement will be resolved by an independent mediator.
Having legal representation during this process is important, as even your own insurance company may have differing interests.
It’s important to understand that Florida is a comparative negligence state, so both parties can be found to be partially at fault if there is mitigating evidence. This fact very often plays a role in settlements for auto accident lawsuits.
What is a Judgment?
If one or both sides can’t reach an agreed-upon settlement, the case will move to court proceedings and receive a judgment after both sides present their case. The judge will then decide which party was at fault in the case or if both parties were partially at fault due to comparative negligence.
Is it Better to Settle?
Although most cases settle outside of court, it can depend on the individual circumstances of your case whether it is better to settle or not. If there is compelling evidence that your legal representation believes would help your case before a judge, it may be better to receive a judgment in some circumstances.
How Long Does a Settlement Take?
Although settlements typically take less time than a court judgment, there is no set timeline for how long one can take. It takes as long as necessary for both parties to reach an agreement. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or longer.
How Clark Law Can Help
If someone has sued you after a car accident and you don’t know how to proceed, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help. Insurance attorneys are often there to look after the insurance company’s interests and protect them from financial exposure. Having a lawyer in your corner means someone who understands the legal process and the tactics that insurance companies and other attorneys often use in these situations and who will be looking out for your rights and assets.
If you’ve been sued after a car accident in Florida, please contact the car accident attorneys at Clark Law today. We do not charge for consultations, and we will work to ensure your rights and assets are fully protected. For help with your Florida car accident lawsuit, call Clark Law, P.A. at (855) 680-4911, or fill out our free consultation form online.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.