How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident in Small Claims Court
are usually terrifying experiences as in most cases, the people involved are severely injured and the vehicles involved damaged. The moments after accidents are also painful and overwhelming for those involved. Those admitted to hospitals are faced with medical bills, and car owners encounter possible vehicle repair costs.
However, if the accident was not your fault, you have a legal right to get financial recovery for the costs involved during and after the accident. According to the law in most states, the person who caused the accidents is usually responsible for the "damages." So, how much can someone sue for a car accident? The most determining factor of how much to sue includes the price of medical bills, repair bills, and lost wages as well as pain and suffering that resulted from the accident. This could add up to thousands of dollars.
How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
Since every accident is different, it’s hard to quickly and neatly apply a concrete value to any car accident lawsuit. The value of your claim will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) economic losses, medical bills, expected long term recovery expenses, and pain and suffering.
Remember, small claims court is meant to handle smaller disputes, and are limited by dollar limits on damages. Even more important, every state has different limits for claimable damages in small claims cases. Depending on what state you live in this could be as little as $2,500 (Kentucky) or as high as $25,000 (Delaware).
After you’ve reviewed the maximum amount of damages you can recover, you can try to apply one of two methods of calculation to determine your damages:
|The Multiplier Method||The multiplier method adds up the sum of economic damages you have incurred (repair bills, physical therapy, hospital payments, etc.) and multiplies them based on the severity of the accident. The multiplier is usually a number between 1 and 5 and the judge will typically have final say over what multiplier should be applied.|
|The Per Diem Method||The per diem method is meant to try and capture the “per day” costs that you have shouldered as a result of your accident. This method usually settles on a flat dollar amount multiplied by the number of days you experienced pain and suffering as a result of the accident.|
Reasons to File a Lawsuit Against a Car Accident
Not all car accident claims require a lawsuit; if no one was injured and the other car owner has auto insurance, it is more likely that the insurance company will cater for the repairs and damages. It is essential to file a claim after a car accident for the following reasons.
|Sue a car accident if the driver at fault is uninsured||It might be challenging to get compensation from a driver who does not have an insurance policy. Therefore, you will have no other option but to sue the driver if they do not agree to pay the damages.
It is more likely that a driver who is not insured also has limited assets, and even if you win the case, you may not be able to recover total damages. Alternatively, you can claim with your own insurance company and demand the uninsured motorist's benefits.
|Sue a car accident for a denied insurance claim||The responding insurance may, in some cases, refuse to pay for the requested damages. This could be due to liability disputes, policy exclusions, delayed notifications, and unpaid premiums. If you feel that the insurance company has denied your claims for either valid or invalid reasons, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the insurance company.|
|Sue a car accident for acceptable insurance settlements||Most insurance settlements are made after negotiations. If you feel that the amount offered is too low for your medication or other damage, you can reject it. If the insurance company is not willing to settle for an acceptable amount, you can decide to file a lawsuit.|
File a Lawsuit Against a Car Accident by Yourself
You can file a lawsuit against a car accident in a small claims court yourself without the help of an attorney. The first step is usually to file a complaint. The complaints about a car accident include:
- A report of what happened.
- The claimed damages.
- The legal basis for bringing the case.
The lawsuit initiates after you have successfully filed the complaint.
What Happens After You’ve Filed?
The next step after filing the complaint is to notify the defendant. According to the law, the defendant has the right to be notified about a legal proceeding filed against them. You can inform the suspect by sending them a copy of the filed complaint. This is also known as "serving" the defendant.
Typically, you will have 30 days to track down the defendant and "serve" them with the complaint. The days may be extended if the suspect is hard to track down. After receiving the complaint, the defendant can either accept the charges or deny them and set up their legal defenses.
If the defendant agrees to make acceptable settlements for the damages, you can decide not to pursue the lawsuit. If they deny the accusation, then you can prepare for the trial. Both parties may exchange information that will help them build evidence and arguments before the trial in a process known as discovery.
During the Trial
During the trial, you and the defendant should provide any evidence before the small claims court. Both sides are also allowed to present their witnesses or cross-examine the available witness. The essence of the trial is to determine who was at fault during the accident.
After both parties have presented their evidence, the judge will advise the jury on how to make the judgment and instruct them about the applicable laws. The jury usually takes a few hours to make the final verdict.
Although you can file a car accident claim by yourself, it is vital to get help from an attorney to get the best result for your case.
Potential Problems When Filing a Lawsuit by Yourself
Before filing the lawsuit yourself, it is essential to explore the available legal options that will help you save money and time. The trial process in a car accident claim is time-consuming due to the statutes of limitations.
A qualified accident attorney ensures that your rights are protected and you get the proper settlement for your damages.
How to Sue for a Car Accident With DoNotPay
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- Log in to
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- Enter the amount you are owed.
- Describe the reason for the case, including photo proof.
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