Can I sue the insurance company after being hit from behind at a red light?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I sue the insurance company after being hit from behind at a red light?

Stopped at a ref light a car hit us from behind. He
told his insurance he was at fault. They repaired our
vehicle but I asked for 30 diminished value which
is 1800. They offered a thousand. Would I be able to
ask for mental and physical damages?

Asked on May 27, 2017 under Accident Law, Hawaii


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You do not sue the other person's insurance company: they have no obligation or duty to you, since you are not their insured/customer. Their obligation is only to defend and/or make payments (e.g. pay a settlement or judgment) for their insured, if their insured if sued. If they offer you something without their insured being sued, that is voluntary on their part, but again, they don't have an obligation to pay you anything: their obligation is only to their own insured.
2) Therefore, if you are offered less in settlement than you are willing to take, you would sue the at-fault driver. You could potentially recover any damages, costs, injuries, etc. you can prove, but you have to bear you own legal fees (if you hire an attorney), expert witness costs (if you need any), etc. Also, lawsuits will take time away from working and generally take time--months or years--so you will wait to get any money. It is generally worth accepting less than you'd like as a settlement, to get the money faster without the time and cost of a lawsuit.
3) IF you actually suffered physical injuries from the accident and can prove them, you can recover any out-of-pocket medical costs (i.e. copays or other amounts not paid by your health insurance) due to this, and--for serious injuries resulting in long term life impairment--possibly some amount for pain and suffering. But you have to have medical testimony proving the injuries, their cause, and their prognosis, which means you'd need to hire a doctor to write a report and testify, and this can be expensive: many hundreds or several thousands of dollars.
4) You cannot recover for "mental damages" for a car accident: the courts don't provide that compensation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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