WHO DO YOU SUE AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
Car accident victims frequently ask me, “who are we going to sue after a car accident?” Hopefully, a lawsuit will not be necessary as that can take years and drain everyone’s money and time. Normally, when you hire a car accident attorney, the intention is to attempt a pre-suit settlement. A pre-suit settlement is much faster than suing in court. When trying to settle a claim, personal injury attorneys will deal directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Here is the claim process if we are attempting to settle your case without going to court:
WHO IS AT FAULT FOR YOUR CAR ACCIDENT?
As a car accident attorney, I would first determine who is at fault for your car accident. Hopefully, you are not at fault. But, you can be partially at fault and still have a viable car accident claim. I would thoroughly interview you and any witnesses about the facts of the car accident. I would also review the investigating police officer’s written notes and his complete traffic accident report.
After gathering all the facts and evidence, I can properly make a determination as to who is at fault and the cause of your car accident. For example, let’s say that you were stopped at a stoplight and you are hit from behind. Maybe the other driver was distracted by a cellphone or other many distracted driver situations. If you are struck from the rear, the striking driver will be presumed to be at fault.
The rear striking driver is presumed to be at fault and presumed to be “negligent”. Negligence is the failure of the striking driver to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. To prove negligence, I need to go through the following legal steps:
- Duty of Care: First, I need to prove that the other driver (at-fault driver) owed you a duty of care. All drivers on the roadway owe a duty of care to other drivers. This means that all drivers must drive safely and obey all traffic rules in a particular jurisdiction. So, this first step is very easy to prove.
- Breach of the Duty of Care: Secondly, I must prove that the at-fault driver breached his duty of care to you. I can prove that the at-fault driver breached his duty of care to other drivers by the facts of the car accident and the local regulations/laws as well as the statutes and case law of Colorado.
- Causation: Thirdly, I need to prove that the at-fault driver was the cause of your car accident and injuries. If the at-fault driver was not the “cause” of your accident, then you would not have a viable legal case. If he or she was the “cause” of your car accident, then we move to the final legal element, Damages.
- Damages: Last, I need to prove the damages that you sustained as a direct result of your car accident or auto accident. After you finish all your medical treatment, I would calculate your medical bills, lost wages, future medical bill, future lost wages and damages like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, duress, distress, etc.
HOW WOULD I HANDLE THE CLAIM PROCESS?
- I would first find out who insures the at-fault driver. I can usually get this information from the traffic accident report itself. If not, I would have to dig deeper and contact the at-fault driver. But, 99% of the time, the investigating officer will write all car insurance information directly on the traffic accident report.
- Next, I would contact the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. Once I contact them, the insurance company would set up a file and will assign a claim’s adjuster to your claim.
- After a claim’s adjuster has been assigned, I will be dealing directly with that claim’s adjuster to settle your case. The claim’s adjuster is not allowed to contact you once you have me as your attorney. And that is a very good thing as most clients will say the wrong thing anyway so I make sure that my clients do not talk to anyone about their car accident (except for their treating doctors.
- Settlement time. After you have finished all your medical treatment, I will gather all your medical records and bills. I will then send the claim’s adjuster a very detailed pre-suit settlement package with all the facts about your car accident. I will be very persuasive and I happen to be an excellent persuasive writer. Sometimes, I will give the insurance adjuster a first offer of settlement and sometimes I will let them go first. If I am able to settle your case pre-suit to your satisfaction, then I will do that.
- After settlement. After your car accident case is settled, the claim’s adjuster will send me the settlement check. Under Colorado law, I am required to place that settlement check into a COLTAF trust account so I can disburse the money to all parties. I would pay any of your outstanding medical bills, any liens on your case like medical bills, Medicaid Medicare, Health Insurance and pay my 1/3 for attorney’s fees and then the remaining money goes to you as the client.
Hopefully, your case can be settled pre-suit with the claim’s adjuster without needing to go into litigation. If your case cannot be settled for some reason, then we would need to talk about the next steps to take, including possibly filing a lawsuit. If you just want to talk about your car accident case or need a very experienced/specialist like myself, please call me at (970) 364-6830. Visit https://allenaccidentlaw.com for more information