If my dad’s car was totaled in an accident for which he was not at fault and he was injured, can we sue?

UPDATED: Feb 12, 2012

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If my dad’s car was totaled in an accident for which he was not at fault and he was injured, can we sue?

My dad got T-boned on the passenger side and his car got totaled. It was the other person’s fault and they have insurance. He now has neck pain and has been sleeping a lot. What are our legal options? Can we sue? I want to know everything so we don’t get stepped on. What kind of money can we get out of this?

Asked on February 12, 2012 under Personal Injury, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If someone else injures you or damages your property and the other person is legally at fault, that person may be liable, or financially responsible, for your injuries, costs, and losses. To be at fault in a car accident generally means driving negligently, or carelessly; for example, speeding or simply going to fast for conditions, going through a traffic light or sign, driving recklessly, DUI, texting while driving, etc.

Potentially, if you are in an accident when it is someone else's fault, you could recover:

1) The cost to repair, or, if it's totalled, the current value of your car.

2) The value of any other property damaged or destroyed (e.g. a laptop in the car).

3) Other damaged-car-related costs, such as towing a wreck, renting a car since yours is undriveable, etc.

4) Medical costs, current and future.

5) Lost wages if work is missed; diminished future earning potential, if any.

6) Pain and suffering, for serious injuries. For a VERY rough ballpark (every case is different), assume this is equal to 2  times the medical cost, if there is significant and long lasting pain or disability.

To the extent any of these are paid by your own insurance (e.g. health insurance) you can't collect--you can recover the amount that you are out-of-pocket.

If the total of the above is several hundred to, say, $3,000 dollars, it's worth suing in small claims court, representing yourself. If the total looks like it could possibly exceed that (and if there may be future medical costs or disability, it certainly would), you should consult with a personal injury attorney about suing.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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