Being Sued for a Car Accident

Being Sued for a Car Accident

The Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2022 indicated that only about 3% to 4% of personal injury cases went to court rather than getting settled initially.

Going through a car accident is a daunting experience in and of itself, but what happens if you later find out that you are being accused of causing the crash and will need to defend yourself in court? Should you admit fault for the incident? Can the other party be held liable?

This write-up discusses what to do if you must undergo a court trial for a personal injury case. It outlines the steps to take when sued for a car accident and the many legal terms you must familiarize yourself with. 

Moreover, this article explains how a personal injury attorney can help you in your case. can help you find a car accident attorney if you or a loved one were involved in a car crash. Use the search tool to find a lawyer by U.S. state or practice area, such as insurance, serious bodily injury, wrongful death, and property damage.

How to Know if You’re Being Sued for a Car Accident

Suppose the other party informs you verbally or through a written document that they’re filing a lawsuit against you. This scenario doesn’t constitute legal action.

However, suppose you were given documents outlining the details of the lawsuit by the Sheriff’s Department. Those same documents will confirm that you are being sued in that case.

If you aren’t sure, you can always check your county clerk’s court record.

What Should I Do Now?

In a vehicular accident case, you would most likely receive a court summons as a witness or defendant. Let’s take a look at both cases.

Suppose you’re receiving the summons as a witness. In that case, you don’t have to worry about having a lawyer to legally represent you since you aren’t facing any liability or charges. 

However, you may need to talk to an attorney to help make sure your statements will not be used against you.

On the other hand, if you’re receiving the court summons as a defendant, you must answer the complaint for which you are being sued. 

However, before you file anything, contact your insurance company to confirm if the lawsuit concerns property damage or personal injury.

What Should I Do After I Receive Notice That I’m Being Sued?

When you are served with a lawsuit notice, the clock runs on essential deadlines. Missing a deadline is unacceptable and cannot be rectified, even if you’re working with an attorney.

As stated, you must immediately contact your insurance company if your case involves a motor vehicle accident. 

If you don’t have an insurance policy covering the cause of the injury, hiring a personal injury attorney can help you ready your case. 

What Happens Next?

When facing a lawsuit, you and your legal team must prepare an answer that addresses each complaint paragraph. Either admit, state, or deny insufficient knowledge for each point.

Respond within the allotted time per the summons, even if you dispute responsibility. Failure to respond results in being defaulted, leading to a judgment against you.

What Is My Case Worth?

Various factors determine the value of your case and cannot be calculated by a simple formula. Working with a car crash attorney helps increase the chances of your case settling for a higher amount.

Can Someone Sue You for a Minor Vehicular Accident?

Anyone can sue you for a minor accident or a more severe collision. Whether or not the lawsuit succeeds is a different story, though.

If someone sues you as a recourse after a car accident, you may want to have a personal injury lawyer by your side.

Aside from defending your rights, a lawyer can also pursue damages for your medical expenses and other damages related to the accident.

You Can Be Sued for a Minor Vehicular Accident

After a car accident, someone may sue you for the following reasons:

  • Their damages are beyond the limits of the liable policy.
  • They don’t have insurance coverage.
  • They haven’t reached an agreeable settlement amount with your insurance provider.
  • They are looking to recover damages that aren’t covered by insurance.

In some cases, the at-fault party will file a lawsuit as retaliation, with hopes that you, as the aggrieved, won’t pursue damages.

What Should I Do if I’m Being Sued for a Minor Car Accident?

The following subtopics will discuss the steps you must take if you are embroiled in a minor car accident lawsuit.

Gather Evidence

If possible, collect as much information as you can at the scene of the accident. Pieces of evidence such as photos, videos, eyewitness testimonials, traffic camera footage, and the police crash report all play a significant role in building a solid case.

Refrain From Sharing Information Online

Posting about your accident on social media and other public forums may compromise your case, giving the other party’s legal team the chance to dispute it.

In some cases, all parties may be liable for the car accident. For example, in Florida, all drivers must have a PIP (personal injury protection) policy that partially covers damage expenses regardless of who is at fault for the auto accident.

Don’t Admit Fault for the Collision

Regardless of the state’s shared fault rules, you should not admit fault for the motor vehicle accident, even if you think you were actually responsible. After further review, your lawyer might be able to prove it wasn’t you who caused the crash.

If you’ve already taken responsibility, that statement might be used against you to reduce your chances of gaining compensation for your case. 

What to Do After Being Involved in a Car Accident

Drivers should be prepared about what to do in a collision with another vehicle, structure, or fixed object on the road. Here are some valuable tips to remember if you’re involved in a car accident:

Stop your vehicle as soon as possible – After the accident, put your vehicle to a halt within the accident scene. In most states, drivers are prohibited from leaving the accident scene, and those caught could face hit-and-run charges.

If your vehicle is in an awkward spot that could potentially put you or the people around you in harm’s way, pull over to the side of the road.

Check yourself and your passengers – Assess yourself before taking action after an accident. You may not feel any pain immediately due to the adrenaline rush. When you’ve confirmed you’re okay, proceed to check the status of your passengers.

Exchange information with the other driver – Gather as much data from the other party as possible. Information like name, address, contact number, vehicle details, and driver’s license number could play a significant role in further investigations.

Take pictures and video footage – Stills and video footage of the accident can be helpful when determining who is responsible for the crash and how the impact caused your injuries.

Talk to the investigating officers – Tell them what happened in detail. Record their name, police report number, and badge number. You can also ask the officers how to obtain a copy of the police report of your case.

You Should Secure Legal Aid After Being Involved in a Car Crash

Securing legal assistance can be a valuable way to defend your legal rights after a vehicular accident. The following subtopics will discuss what your lawyer and their expert legal advice can do to help you with your case.

Manage Your Case on a Contingency Fee Basis

Most personal injury attorneys manage a case on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t need to pay anything upfront and will only pay the fees once the attorney successfully recovers compensation for your case.

Determine Fault and Liability for Your Accident

After investigating the accident, your lawyer will determine liability and fault. Ultimately, your lawyer can even find out that you weren’t responsible for the accident in any way.

For instance, suppose you rear-ended another car because of brake failure. In this case, the liability may lie with the car manufacturer instead of you.

Protect You From the Other Party’s Lawyers

If the other party has legal representation, their lawyers will try to pursue damages using every resource in their arsenal. This process can be so time-consuming and stressful that it can affect your mental health and jeopardize your standing financially.

Working with a car accident lawyer can help prevent the other party from taking advantage of the situation.

Pursue Your Accident-Related Damages

Aside from protecting your legal rights, your car crash attorney can also pursue compensation for the following damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage costs
  • Lost wages and other job-related benefits

File Your Lawsuit Within the Applicable Deadline

You can file a lawsuit against the other party to recover some of your financial damages if you sustained injuries in a car crash case.

The time limit to file a lawsuit differs per state. Filing your lawsuit within the allotted timeframe helps protect your right to seek compensation.

The Insurance Attorney May Bully You and Have You Change Your Story

Suppose you were responsible for rear-ending someone in an accident and told the authorities that you were at fault. In that case, the insurance company’s attorney will most likely deny responsibility for answering the complaint.

Remember that the insurance lawyer will do everything to protect their client.

The Insurance Company and Their Attorney Will Keep the Amount of Coverage You Have a Secret

Suppose you were at fault for a vehicular accident, and you have seriously hurt the other party. In that case, you should consider getting a non-insurance defense attorney.

Hiring a non-insurance lawyer will help ensure that your case is resolved to protect your assets rather than saving the insurance company’s money.

Other Parties That Could Be Held Liable

The other driver in the car crash is not the only one who can be responsible for the accident. Several other entities may bear responsibility for your damages. 

For instance, if poor conditions on the road caused the crash, the agency responsible for the upkeep of those roads could be held accountable. Another case is if a repair company did not perform their duties on a car that was taken to them to be serviced, they too can be held accountable.

You can also sue another driver not directly involved in the accident, mainly if their actions caused the crash. Unfortunately, if the third-party driver wasn’t involved in the collision, it can be challenging to track them down.

Is It Worth It to Sue the Other Party After a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Suing the other driver can be worth it, particularly if the insurance claim has already paid the maximum amount you can file for in your personal injury claim. When doing this, avoid delays as much as possible since certain time limits will affect your case.

Suing Someone in a Car Accident Case Is Usually Not Necessary

Most vehicular accident cases settle long before a need to sue someone arises. For these cases, working with an experienced car crash attorney can help you perform the following:

  • Calculate your total damages.
  • Prove the other driver’s fault or negligence.
  • Build a stronger case.
  • Negotiate to get a fair settlement.
  • Avoid the need to go to a legal trial.

Negotiating With the Insurance Company

When trying to get a settlement for a car accident you were involved in, one of the first things you must do is negotiate with the insurance company.

Often, especially if you are working with a personal injury lawyer, you and the insurer would ultimately reach an agreement.

However, if extensive negotiation is ineffective in reaching an agreeable settlement amount, you might consider personally suing the other driver.

Situations Wherein You Can Personally Sue Someone for a Motor Vehicle Accident

Suppose the other party’s insurer denied your personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, or their proposed amount seems unfair. In that case, a lawsuit might be your best recourse.

However, you must remember that most states prohibit suing the car insurance company directly. Instead, you will have to file a lawsuit against the other driver.

Suing the Driver Individually

An uninsured driver doesn’t have liability coverage to pay for a settlement or verdict against them.

Suppose you were involved in a crash, and the driver at fault is uninsured. In that case, you will most likely struggle to find financial compensation. In this situation, you can opt to sue the driver individually.

Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim

Suppose you were involved in a vehicular accident with an uninsured driver. In that case, your second option to receive compensation for damages is your uninsured motorist insurance coverage.

UM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured motorist) insurance policy is optional. Still, most U.S. drivers have it unless they opt out.

This insurance policy limit covers your damage up to a certain threshold if you are in a car crash with an uninsured driver or the at-fault party has insufficient insurance coverage.

If You Are Going to Sue, You Must Act Quickly

Regardless of who is at fault for the accident, you must act if you plan to sue. The statute of limitations (time limit for doing legal action) varies depending on where the accident happened.

For instance, you are given up to two years from the car crash date to file a lawsuit in most states like Georgia.

What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and a Verdict?

A verdict is a decision in a court proceeding. A jury or judge will issue the verdict after a trial.

On the other hand, a settlement is a binding resolution agreement by the involved parties in a case.

Why Is It Better to Settle?

In most motor vehicle accident cases, both sides likely want to avoid spending unnecessary money, opting not to take the incident to court. Litigation is not a small expense. The costs will only pile up if a case drags on for years.

Settling your accident case as soon as possible helps prevent the complexities of a legal proceeding. After all, when you’re sued, you likely want to get on with your everyday life as soon as possible. This is also true for insurance companies that want to close claims swiftly.

Settling a case achieves closure for both sides quicker than going to a court trial.

How Long Does It Take to Reach a Settlement?

The time it takes to secure a vehicular accident settlement depends on various factors. If you have serious injuries, settling your case could take a while. According to a survey, receiving a car accident injury claim takes about a year.

The Chances of You Ever Having to Pay Out of Your Pocket Are Unlikely

Unless the car insurance company failed to offer your full limits of benefits to the plaintiff who was hurt in the accident, there is very little chance that you need to pay an excess verdict.

Proving Fault and Liability After a Vehicular Accident

Rules about negligence and liability differ by state. For instance, in a fault state like Georgia, the at-fault party will be the one to shoulder all costs of the accident.

Drivers must act in a way that does not harm other people. Should a driver fail that duty, they will be deemed negligent. If a driver’s negligent act translates to accident injuries or other damages, that driver will be considered at fault.

What Does the Car Accident Claim Process Involve?

A vehicular accident claims process starts when you file a claim with your insurance company. Once a personal injury claim is filed, the insurer will perform the following:

  • Investigate the claim.
  • Determine who is liable.
  • Calculate the damages.
  • Propose a settlement amount.

Subpoenas and the Copy of the Complaint

In simpler terms, a subpoena is a legal order that requires a person to appear in court. It is a legal obligation to comply with a subpoena.

On the other hand, the copy of the complaint outlines the plaintiff’s (accuser) claims, their sought damages, and why you were deemed at fault for the accident. The plaintiff should file a copy of the complaint to instigate the lawsuit.

What Is a Tort?

A tort is when a person violates their duty to another person. To make it more simple, let’s take a look at some quick examples:

  • Injuries due to poorly maintained properties
  • Assault
  • Vehicular accidents

What Is a Summons?

A summons is a document that gives you a notice that you must be in court. The reasons for receiving a summons can be the following:

  • To defend yourself against a lawsuit
  • To respond to a minor criminal charge
  • To appear as a witness
  • To appear for jury services

A summons usually contains a court’s details, the involved parties’ names, and the case’s docket number. You will receive a complaint and a summons if you are a defendant.

What Does the Statute of Limitations Mean?

The statute of limitations is your state’s time limit to file a claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

The statute of limitations includes many layers, such as getting checked for injuries at the accident scene, receiving medical care, and filing insurance claims.

Since the process can be complex, knowing how and when to file a claim or a lawsuit is crucial.

What Roles Do the Court Clerk, Court Rules, and Default Judgment Play?

The court clerk administers court records and guides you on court procedures. Meanwhile, court rules impose court operations, including proper courtroom conduct and document filing processes. Following these rules is vital to avoid delays and penalties.

Finally, a default judgment refers to a ruling that favors one party because the other party fails to take action.

Interrogatories, Jury Trials, and Pain and Suffering

Interrogatories are a significant part of the discovery process. It is comprised of written questions that must be answered while under oath.

The jury will determine the facts of the case, and the judge will apply the relevant law.

On the other hand, pain and suffering refer to the emotional and physical trauma a person experiences after a car accident. Pain and suffering are personal and highly subjective factors. 

Remember that a skilled lawyer can present a convincing case for a higher compensation.

What Is a Process Server and Service of Process?

A process server delivers court documents, including complaints, subpoenas, and summonses, to the involved parties in a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the service of process refers to the procedure in which an involved party provides action notice to the court, another party, or an administrative body.

Settlement Offers, Small Claims, and Trial Date

A settlement offer is an involved party’s proposal to resolve a lawsuit before going to a legal proceeding or trial. Put simply, a settlement offer is an agreement to pay a certain amount, stop a particular behavior, or perform a specific action.

Meanwhile, for disputes that don’t involve much money, you can go to a small claims court, where you attend case hearings on a predetermined trial date.

How Fault Works in a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuit

To better understand who can be sued in a vehicular accident case, you must first know how fault works.

In most U.S. states, the driver at fault is liable for all the damages the accident has caused. The injured party should be liable to seek compensation for their damages.

Comparative Fault

In some states, including Georgia, a modified comparative fault rule is observed when determining who is to blame for an accident.

Modified comparative negligence reduces compensation depending on your share of fault. Under modified comparative negligence, you can’t get compensation if you’re more than 50% responsible for the accident.

For instance, if you suffered $100,000 in legal damages but were also 55% at fault, you are barred from recovering any amount under a modified comparative negligence rule.

If you were at least 30% at fault, your award would have been calculated accordingly to $70,000.

What Deadlines do I Need to Watch Out for if I’m Being Sued?

When you’re being sued for a car accident, the most significant deadline you must consider is the limited time you have to file a response to what the other party alleged that you did or did not do.

Next is the discovery deadline, or the time limit when the information has to be produced from one party to another.

The final deadline is, of course, the date of the trial. Be sure you are prepared to present your case by then.

You Can Still File for Damages Even if You Were Partly Responsible for the Car Crash

As discussed, in states that practice the modified comparative fault rule, you can still file for damages even if you hold partial fault for the accident, as long as you are not more than 50% responsible.

Anyone injured due to another person’s breach of duty of care is also entitled to recover compensation.

Do I Need a Lawyer if the Accident Was Not My Fault?

One reason to get a lawyer is to ensure you get the best possible outcome in a legal dispute. If that’s the case, even if you didn’t cause the motor vehicle accident, it’s advisable to get the services of an attorney to help you navigate the complex legal web seamlessly.

Why Would a Liability Insurance Company Sue Me?

When you file a claim with your insurance company, they may hire a lawyer to negotiate settlements. While liability insurance is mandated with state-level requirements, it seeks to compensate accident victims for their damages.

Suppose a victim resorts to a personal injury lawsuit due to a disagreement on settlement terms. In that case, the insurance company’s rebuttal will be to hire their legal counsel as well.

Understanding Personal Injury Lawsuit Awards

Suppose you and the insurance company cannot settle, and a jury deems you were at fault for an accident in a fault state. In that case, you can be held responsible for the amount the victim is awarded as compensation.

Your insurance company will indemnify you up to the insurance policy limits, and you will personally pay any amount of a verdict beyond your insurance policy.

What Is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Different States?

Every state in America follows its rules to determine the time permitted to take legal action.

For example, in North Carolina, you are given up to three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.

However, there are some situations in which the deadline may be extended. If someone under 18 is hurt in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, they will have three years from the date they turned 18 to file a lawsuit.

Moreover, the deadline for such lawsuits can be extended if the defendant cannot be found or is currently in another state.

Remember that before filing a claim, you must recover from your sustained injuries to provide a reasonable estimate of your medical treatment costs and whether you will require further medical assistance.

If the injuries are severe, recovery can take several months.

What Happens if You Miss the Deadline for Filing My Personal Injury Claim?

If you miss your personal injury claim filing deadline, the defendant will most likely move to have your case dismissed. The court can perpetually time-bar you from receiving your settlement when this happens.

What Happens if You Lose in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

If you lose a vehicular accident lawsuit, you will be liable for the other party’s accrued damages, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other costs.

Suppose you cannot afford to pay the judgment. In that case, the other party may be entitled to seize your assets, garnish your wages, or even file for bankruptcy against you.

How Do I Find an Attorney to Help Me?

Finding a defense lawyer well-versed in personal injury laws in your state can be challenging.  is an online directory site that lets you find a car accident attorney anywhere in the U.S. from the comfort of your home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can you sue the insurance company?

You can sue your insurance company if they violate the insurance policy terms. Violations usually include failure to pay claims or pay them on time and bad faith claims.

2. Can I sue the government for a personal injury?

Government entities are protected from lawsuits under the sovereign immunity doctrine. However, many government entities have enacted laws subjecting them to lawsuits if their negligence translates to personal injury.

3. What can you do if you are hospitalized due to an accident?

If you or a loved one has been hospitalized following a motor vehicle accident, take note of the following:

  • Follow the doctor’s advice.
  • Document the injuries.
  • Communicate with the doctor.
  • Do not sign a medical release or provide a recorded statement to the insurance company without the approval of a lawyer.
  • Seek legal representation.

4. Who is liable for the crash if the at-fault party has no car insurance?

Even if the responsible party does not have auto insurance, they are still liable for your injuries. However, recovering damages from them may be uncertain. In such cases, having an uninsured motorist coverage is best.

5. How can a recorded statement be used against me?

Typically, the questions asked by the insurance company are meant to undercut the determination of liability.

Insurance adjusters often try to contact you early on, hoping to catch you off guard in case you admit you were partly at fault for the accident, on the record.

6. Who might be liable for my injuries after a car accident?

Determining liability in an accident involves many factors. Aside from you, liability may also rest with the following entities:

  • The driver of the vehicle in which you’re riding
  • The driver of another vehicle
  • The owner of any vehicle involved if the driver is not the owner
  • Car manufacturers or car component manufacturers if the accident was caused by faulty equipment
  • State, federal, or local governments when poor road conditions caused the crash
  • Liquor store owners who knowingly allowed an intoxicated person to drive
  • Rideshare and construction companies

7. How do I maximize my workers’ comp settlement?

Make sure you inform your employer of your injury. If you’re hurt while working, see a doctor right away. Keep copies of everything documented, and don’t wait to file your comp claim.

Additionally, try to choose your doctor when possible since many worker’s comp insurance companies have doctors they work with. This might mean that their doctor has a conflict of interest.

8. What is the appeals process for Social Security disability?

The appeals process for Social Security disability includes the following:

  • Request for recommendation
  • Hearing by an administrative law judge
  • Appeals Council review
  • Petition to U.S. District Court

9. What is adjustment disorder after a car accident?

Adjustment Disorder (AjD) is a mental health condition that is caused by the intense stress and anxiety experienced by car accident victims. Often, this condition impacts emotion and behavior.

10. What is psychological shock after a car accident?

After an accident, a person may undergo psychological shock, manifesting as heightened anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, racing thoughts, irritability, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. If not addressed, this psychological shock can escalate into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

11. What if you lose someone in a car accident?

When a reckless driver causes the death of someone in a vehicular accident, they can face criminal charges and civil liability.

12. What are the symptoms of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) after a car accident?

For many, the symptoms of PTSD after a motor vehicle accident are the following:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Reluctance or refusal to drive
  • Numbing of emotional responsiveness
  • Feeling detached
  • Irritability
  • Disturbed sleep

13. What are some tips for succeeding without an attorney?

Suppose you are unrepresented by a legal counsel in your car crash case. In that case, you can protect yourself by following these steps:

  • Take note of deadlines.
  • Write letters or electronic mail to the opposing party before filing motions.
  • Practice expressing what happened in an easily understandable way.
  • Organize your documents.


  1. What To Do If Someone Sues You After an Accident,company%20right%20away
  2. PTSD symptoms,e.g.%2C%20reluctance%20or%20refusal%20to
  3. Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts (2023)
  4. Property damage cases
  5. Filing an Auto Claim with the Other Party’s Insurance Company

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