Injured victims often ask who they sue after a car crash to recover their damages. Some people think they will need to sue the driver while others believe a lawsuit is filed against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, it is important to note that a lawsuit is not always necessary after a traffic accident.
So how do you get compensated for your car crash injuries and other losses, and who is the defendant if you do have to sue?
If you have been injured in a traffic accident caused by the negligence of another driver, our knowledgeable car crash attorneys in Silver Spring are ready to help. The first step is finding out if you may have a claim. If you are unsure whether your claim is valid, you can find out for free. We offer a zero-cost, no-obligation first-time consultation. We are ready to hear more about your situation and discuss your potential legal options.
Get started with a FREE case review. Ph: (888) 213-8140
A Claim is Not a Lawsuit
Drivers often use “claim” or “case” interchangeably when they talk about seeking compensation after a car crash. However, filing a claim is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit. Before we discuss whom you may have to sue, it is important to understand this difference. A car crash claim begins when you notify the insurance company that you were involved in a traffic accident.
Insurance companies require their policyholders to notify them “promptly” after being involved in a crash. The deadline may be different, depending on the company. Check the terms of your policy or contact your insurance company directly to find out how long you have to file a claim. Typically, filing a claim promptly means days to a couple of weeks at most. Filing immediately is better, however, and helps to ensure you do not miss your insurance company’s deadline or the opportunity to recover compensation for your losses.
At this point, it is important to understand that there is no guarantee that you will be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party for your injuries or damages. You are merely beginning the process.
What Happens If You Share Liability?
We get this question a lot. The insurance companies of both parties will investigate the crash to determine and assess fault. Unfortunately, under the state’s pure contributory negligence law, you will not be able to recover anything from the other party if you are even one percent liable. With such a small degree of fault to establish, you can bet Maryland insurance adjusters will try to prove you helped to cause the crash in some way. Insurance companies make a lot of promises in TV commercials, however, they always protect their interests first. If they paid out on every filed claim fairly, they would be unable to stay in business.
Hiring an attorney to make sure you are not assessed more than your share of fault could make a difference in whether you are able to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Negotiating With the At-Fault Party’s Insurer
If you bear no fault for the crash, your claim should be able to move forward. Your attorney will begin the legal process to help you recover damages from the at-fault party. However, there are other steps that must happen. For example, your attorney will not begin negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurer until you have reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Waiting for you to reach your MMI and subsequently negotiating for a settlement with the other party’s insurer takes time. Some claims may settle more quickly – perhaps taking only months – while others may take a year or longer.
Filing a Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit is often not necessary since most car crash claims settle out of court. However, if your attorney is unable to get the other side to agree to a settlement, you may have to file a lawsuit. Once you file a lawsuit, your claim becomes a case.
If this step is necessary, you must file the lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out. In Maryland, you have three years from the date of your crash to file a lawsuit. While that may sound like a long time, it is important to remember that your attorney needs time to build a strong case on your behalf. This process includes investigating your crash, gathering evidence, allowing you to reach your MMI and more.
Do You Sue the At-Fault Driver or the Insurance Company After a Crash?
The named defendant in a lawsuit is the at-fault driver, not the insurance company. However, the insurance company is responsible for providing an attorney to represent his or her policyholder and for paying out the damages on his or her behalf. The plaintiff – injured victim – has the burden of proving negligence. If your lawsuit is successful, the damages you recover could include compensation for:
- Emergency medical costs
- Surgeries you may need
- Follow-up medical care
- Physical therapy
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Pain and suffering damages
- Wages lost while recovering
- And more
Our Attorneys Are Ready to Protect Your Rights
At Goldberg Finnegan, we have been helping injured victims seek compensation against negligent parties for decades – recovering more than $130 million on their behalf. This track record includes a $1.5 million verdict obtained in a lawsuit for a client who was seriously injured in a car crash.
Call our law offices anytime, 24/7, to schedule your free case review. We are ready to help.