Who Can I Sue after a Car Accident?
If you have been involved in an auto accident, there are probably many questions that are running through your mind. The first concern, of course, is how badly you are hurt, and getting proper medical treatment for your injuries. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s recommendations, so that you are able to recover from your injuries as soon as possible.
Once your injuries are dealt with and you have assessed the damage the accident caused to your vehicle, your next concern may be, “who do I sue for damages after the auto accident?” Or put another way, you are wondering where to go to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries and other losses. The answer to this question depends largely on the specific circumstances of your case.
Who is At Fault for the Accident?
Before you even consider suing anyone after a car accident, it is important to examine liability (i.e., who was to blame for the accident?). If the accident occurred in Mississippi, the injury claim will be subject to the state’s pure comparative negligence legal standard. Under this standard, you have a right to compensation even if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, your damage award will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share.
Here is an example of how this might play out. If the total losses you suffered for your medical bills, time out of work, property damage, and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) equaled $100,000 and you are found to be 25% at fault for the accident, the amount of compensation you are entitled to would be reduced by $25,000.
Bottom line: In a Mississippi car accident case, unless you are 100% to blame, you should be able to get some compensation for your losses, although it is obviously in your best interests to minimize the percentage of fault you share.
Obtaining Compensation from the Insurance Company
In most cases, a person who is injured in a car accident will need to go to the other driver’s insurance company in order to recover compensation. This will typically involve a period of negotiations in an attempt to work out a settlement without the need to go to trial. You can sue the insurance company for damages, but litigation can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it is generally better for everyone involved to settle the case out of court.
If the insurer is not willing to negotiate in good faith, suing for damages should be an option that your lawyer is ready and able to exercise. If you have an experienced lawyer, you can expect that they will thoroughly investigate the accident and put together the strongest possible case during negotiations. Your lawyer’s experience and the strength of their arguments will present a credible threat to the other side that you are willing to sue them. This alone can often motivate them to present a reasonable settlement offer.
What if the At-Fault Driver Does Not have Insurance?
If the driver who caused your injuries does not have auto insurance, you have a couple different options. The first (and usually the best) option is to seek compensation from your own insurance company through the uninsured motorist portion of your policy. Keep in mind, however, that you can only sue for the maximum liability limits of your policy.
In Mississippi, this could be as low as $25,000. In addition, the state does not require drivers to carry uninsured motorist/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. You will need to look closely at your policy to determine what type of coverage you have, and if it is adequate to compensate you if the other driver does not have insurance. Hopefully, you have at least some UM/UIM coverage to protect you in case this were to happen.
The other option you have if the driver you were in an accident with does not have insurance is to sue them directly for damages. As an aside, this option also exists if the driver does not have enough liability insurance to cover your losses, and you do not have adequate underinsured motorist coverage in your own policy. Before taking this step, however, you need to determine whether or not it would be worth the trouble.
If a motorist does not have auto insurance, there is a strong likelihood that they do not have the personal assets necessary to even come close to covering your losses. This means you can sue them for damages, win a court judgment, and still not be able to recover anything. In this scenario, you will need to rely heavily on your attorney’s wisdom and experience in deciding if you should go this route.
Injured in a Car Accident in Mississippi? Contact the Gardner Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation
Auto accidents can result in serious injuries, and when this happens, you will need a strong advocate in your corner looking out for your legal rights and interests. If the accident occurred in Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, or anywhere in Southern Mississippi, contact the Gardner Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation. Call our office today at (228) 900-9618 or message us through our web contact form.