Car Accident Liability and Compensation

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Receiving compensation for a car accident hinges on proving the other party was negligent or liable in causing it. Knowing who is liable for causing a crash and who you can sue for damages will help you to get the compensation for the car accident that you need and deserve.

Negligence and Car Accident Fault

The person that is responsible for paying for injuries and property damage is the negligent driver who is at fault in the collision. The law defines negligence as failure to exercise reasonable care, so a question to ask yourself when considering who is at fault in the accident is: would a prudent person under the same circumstances have acted in the same manner? If not, the person is normally deemed to have been negligent, and will likely be responsible for compensating you for your losses.

If the negligent party was not the driver, but say a bicyclist that darted in the street illegally causing you to hit another car, or a passenger in either vehicle who creates a distraction, the same rules would apply. Whoever is responsible for the accident is liable for the damages the accident causes. If the responsible party does not have insurance that covers the cost of the accident, then you can file a lawsuit to collect the money that you are owed!

It is important that you prepare for your insurance claim by gathering supporting documents that tell the story of the accident.  If the claim ends up in a lawsuit with you suing the negligent party, your documentation will be critical to your success.

Type of Damages and Compensation in a Car Accident

There are three types of damages in which you can be compensated for in a car accident. The damages are:

  • Property Damage- vehicle damage or any other property damage (fence, telephone pole, sign, etc) as a result of the accident.
  • Special Damages- Medical and Non medical damages that result due to the accident- medical bills, Rx, medical bandages, loss wages, mileage to medical appointments, vacation time, etc
  • Compensatory Damages- this is defined as pain and suffering. You can be compensated in a car accident for your pain and suffering.

Once you file a claim with the insurance company, you need to assess and document all your damage and injuries. Whether you are filing a property damage claim or a bodily injury claim, you need to fully document all of your losses. Keep in mind that injury claims require you establish a value difficult to quantify losses such as your injury, pain and suffering, and lingering damages (disability, scarring, etc). If you are struggling to set the value of your claim, consult an experienced auto accident attorney for assistance.

Car Insurance Lawsuits

If you and the negligent party’s insurance company cannot reach an agreement on the value to compensate you for your injury in the car accident, your alternative may be a lawsuit. The best advice in these circumstances is contact a car accident attorney. An attorney would know how to sue negligent driver in order to get you compensated for the car accident. This may include filing a lawsuit, attaching liens to any property owned by the responsbile driver or garnishing wages to collect the judgment you are owed. An accident attorney would know the laws in your state with regards to suing any responsible party’s for causing the accident.

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