Someone is driving and texting, and they slam you from behind, causing you whiplash. You have a legal claim against them.
A business fails to maintain a safe parking lot, causing you to damage your car on debris. You may also have a cause of action.
An automobile manufacturer fails to install proper airbags, or otherwise creates an unsafe vehicle that you purchase and drive. You can sue them.
If you have been injured from these or a similar situation, you may be able to demand compensation. Keep reading for seven tips to guide you on how to sue someone when they have caused you harm.
1. Have You Been Injured?
To institute a successful lawsuit, you will have to establish that you have been injured.
Your injury may be physical, emotional, or material. If you have had a car accident, you may have incurred all of these types of injury.
To prevail on your claims, you will need evidence of the accident itself. If you are able to, take photos at the scene. Retain all medical and financial records of doctors’ bills and mechanics’ invoices.
Some injuries are not immediately apparent. Monitor your health over the subsequent weeks and months to make sure you include all residual effects of the accident.
Being unable to work or maintain your family relationships are also examples of compensable harm.
2. Who Caused Your Injury?
To sue someone, you will have to identify a person, persons, or entity whom you think is responsible.
In a car accident, usually, the other driver is the obvious target. If they were drunk or distracted, you will have a strong claim against them.
However, you can sue other entities besides people. If you feel that the city was not maintaining its traffic lights or signage in a safe manner, you can sue the city.
If your car has a defect that may have caused the accident, you may be able to sue the automobile manufacturer.
A lawsuit can name several plaintiffs, so you do not have to limit the number of people you sue if you have a reasonable claim against all of them.
3. Were They Negligent?
The most important component of a successful lawsuit is establishing causation. Was the person who caused you harm acting in a careless or dangerous way? Did their negligence result in the accident?
Accidents do happen all the time, and lawsuits do not always ensue. If a person is driving in a responsible manner, they can still collide with other drivers. Weather can play a part, or a dog running unexpectedly into traffic. You can’t sue a dog or a rainstorm.
However, if someone is not paying attention while they driving, or if they are driving too fast, they may be found negligent.
If they were texting or driving under the influence, they will be presumed to be negligent.
The government can be negligent in maintaining safe roads. If someone reasonably could have anticipated that accidents would occur at that intersection if the light was broken or a stop sign was not replaced, that establishes negligence.
Much of the lawsuit will entail proving that the person you are suing should have known that his behavior might hurt someone. Even if he did not know, the standard would be whether a “reasonable person” would have known.
4. Did You Contribute to the Situation?
Now, if you were driving over the speed limit and you are hit by another vehicle, things start to get a little complicated. However, you may still have grounds for a suit.
Many car accident lawsuits involve varying degrees of contributory negligence. For example, if both of you were not driving perfectly, the court will need to assess who is primarily responsible.
If you contributed to the accident by failing to signal or obey traffic lights, you may not receive the full amount of compensation you are seeking. For example, if you are seeking $10,000 in damages but the court finds you are 20% responsible, you will receive 20% less if you win your case.
Other things that may contribute to a finding of negligence on your part include failing to keep your car in good working order and inspected.
If you had an existing back condition, your claims of spinal injury may be more closely scrutinized.
5. Do They Have Insurance or Assets?
Another factor to consider in deciding whether to pursue a lawsuit is your chance of recovery.
If you were hit by someone who does not have a job, or insurance, or any assets, you may win the lawsuit. However, it is unlikely you will be able to collect any money from them.
If you were hit by a truck driver who was on the job, you may have a claim against his employer. You may have a chance at a larger settlement from a large trucking company than an individual. The same goes for a government entity like a city or town.
Lawsuits cost money. Consider your likelihood of prevailing before you file a suit.
6. Do You Have a Lawyer?
Filing a lawsuit, collecting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and negotiating with insurance companies are all part of a lawsuit over a vehicular accident. It is rarely advisable to act as your own advocate.
Research notable car accident lawyers in your area. Find out which firm has a good track record on behalf of their clients.
A lawyer may charge an hourly rate or a contingency fee, which is based upon your eventual award. Car accident lawyers earn this fee by acting on your behalf, using the experience they have from representing numerous other clients just like you.
7. Think About a Settlement
Very few car accident lawsuits proceed to trial. Usually, the parties to the accident and the suit will work through their lawyers and insurance companies to reach a settlement.
Settlements are favored by the court as they save valuable time and resources. It also saves you the uncertainty of a jury trial.
Your lawyer will calculate a fair amount that will compensate you for your medical bills, loss of work, emotional harm, and other harm you incurred as a result of the accident. If the other party agrees, you both avoid a trial in front of a judge.
How to Sue Someone and Win: Get a Lawyer
If you want to know how to sue someone and succeed, talk to a professional. It takes skill and experience to understand the legal protocol of filing suit and following through a long and complicated process. You increase your chances of success when you place this job in the hands of an attorney.
For more real-life tips on getting through good times and bad, keep checking back.