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How much can someone sue for a car accident?

Wondering how much someone can sue for a car accident? We cover everything you need to know about how much compensation you can seek.

evident Editorial Team
November 28, 2023
Broken windshield, car accident

If you have been in a car accident, you may be wondering how much compensation you can receive by suing the at-fault party.

In this article, we'll cover all of the factors that determine the amount of compensation you can receive through a car accident lawsuit.

Key Takeaways

What determines how much I can sue for?

1. Liability

Proving the other party's liability in a personal injury claim is crucial in determining the settlement amount. If you can establish that the other driver was negligent and caused the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Evidence such as police reports, witness statements, and expert testimony can help prove liability.

2. Severity of Injuries

The type and severity of your injuries will significantly impact the compensation you may receive. Car accident victims with more severe injuries typically require more extensive medical treatments, resulting in higher medical expenses and a longer recovery period. This can lead to higher compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.

3. Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are an essential factor in determining your compensation amount. These expenses include the cost of emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, physical therapy, medications, and any ongoing or future medical treatments related to your injuries. Make sure to keep detailed records of all medical expenses so that they can be included in your car accident case.

4. Lost Wages

If your injuries forced you to miss work or temporarily or permanently reduced your earning capacity, you could be entitled to compensation for lost wages. To calculate lost wages, you will need to provide documentation of your regular income and evidence of how much work you missed due to your injuries.

5. Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages, as they do not have a specific monetary value attached to them. Instead, these damages aim to compensate you for the physical pain and emotional distress you experienced due to the accident. Calculating pain and suffering can be challenging, as it often involves subjective factors. An experienced attorney can help determine an appropriate amount for these damages.

6. Property Damage

Property damage includes the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle or any personal items damaged in the accident. It is essential to obtain repair estimates and document the damage to ensure that these expenses are included in your claim.

7. Comparative Negligence

If you were partially at fault for the car accident, your compensation may be reduced accordingly. This concept is known as comparative negligence. For example, if you were found to be 30% at fault for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by 30%.

How much can you sue an insurance company for?

You can generally sue the driver's insurance company for the amount of your damages up to the coverage limits. The coverage limits vary based on the type of insurance involved.

calculator and pen on paper

Liability Insurance

In most states, drivers are required to carry liability insurance.

Liability insurance is a type of coverage that provides financial protection to drivers in the event of an auto accident. In most states, it is mandatory for drivers to carry liability insurance as this helps ensure that if they are at fault in an accident, their insurer will pay for damages or injuries caused by the accident up to a certain limit.

The limits of liability coverage vary depending on state regulations and individual policy terms. Typically, liability coverage is split into two parts:

  • Bodily injury covers medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the driver's negligence
  • Property damage covers repairs or replacement costs for damaged vehicles or other property.

It is important to note that liability insurance only covers damages or injuries caused by the insured driver. If another driver causes an accident with you and does not have sufficient insurance coverage (or any at all), uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can help cover your expenses.

In many cases, damages exceed the coverage provided by the car insurance company, requiring plaintiffs to look to other sources to recover the full extent of their damages.

What if the at-fault driver is uninsured?

If the at-fault driver lacks the required insurance, you are entitled to sue the driver. While you have every right to sue the driver, it's important to keep in mind that drivers who do not carry insurance are often unable to compensate victims due to their lack of assets.

This means that even if you win a lawsuit against an uninsured driver, there may be little or no financial benefit for you. It's also worth noting that some states have laws requiring drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. This coverage kicks in when an at-fault driver doesn't have enough insurance or any insurance at all.

crash, car, car crash

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of auto insurance that is required by law in some states. This coverage provides financial protection to drivers who are involved in car accidents with an at-fault driver who does not have sufficient insurance or any insurance at all. In such cases, the uninsured motorist coverage will pay for damages and injuries sustained by the insured driver and their passengers.

Uninsured motorist coverage generally does not cover property damage caused by an uninsured driver. For this reason, it may be wise to also consider adding collision or comprehensive coverage for vehicle damage to your auto insurance policy.

In addition, some states offer underinsured motorist coverage which provides additional protection when the at-fault driver has liability limits that are insufficient to cover all damages and injuries incurred in the motor vehicle accident.

Drivers should carefully review their state's laws regarding uninsured drivers and underinsured motorist coverage when purchasing auto insurance policies. It's also important to understand the specific terms and conditions of each policy before making a decision on which one is right for you.

How do I select a car accident lawyer?

When seeking compensation for a car accident, selecting the right personal injury lawyer can make all the difference. An experienced and qualified car accident lawyer will have a deep understanding of personal injury law and their law firm will know how to navigate complex procedures involved in filing claims, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing clients in court if necessary.

One key factor that determines the success of your case is the level of experience that your personal injury attorney has handling similar personal injury cases before. A skilled lawyer who has dealt with numerous car accident cases over time will be better equipped to assess your situation accurately, build a strong case on your behalf, and negotiate effectively with insurers or opposing counsel.

car accident lawyer in office

Another essential quality that you should look for in an attorney is their reputation within the legal community. This includes their track record of success both inside and outside of court as well as their standing among fellow lawyers. Choosing an attorney who is highly respected among peers can increase your chances of securing favorable outcomes since such attorneys are often seen as credible by judges and other decision-makers.

Ultimately, choosing an experienced car accident lawyer with a solid reputation can maximize your odds of obtaining fair financial compensation for damages sustained in a vehicular collision. Whether through settlement negotiations or litigation proceedings, having expert legal representation on your side can help you get back on track after suffering injuries or loss caused by someone else's negligence behind the wheel.

How the Legal Process Works

1. Hiring an Attorney

Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is crucial to maximizing the settlement amount of your personal injury claims. An attorney will know how to gather evidence, calculate damages, negotiate with insurance companies, and present a strong case in court if necessary.

2. Filing a Claim

Once you have hired an attorney, they will help you file a car accident claim with the at-fault party or accident victim's insurance company. It is essential to file within the statute of limitations, which varies by state but is generally between two and four years from the date of the accident.

3. Negotiating a Settlement

After filing a claim, the negotiation process begins between your attorney and the defendant's insurance company. The insurance company will likely offer a lower settlement amount initially, and your attorney will counter with a higher amount based on your damages. This process may involve several rounds of negotiations until both parties reach an agreement. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the typical car accident settlement was $20,235 in 2020, while the average property damage claim was $4,711.

To achieve a fair car accident settlement, it is essential to be patient and prepared to provide evidence supporting your damages. Do not accept an initial lowball offer, as it may not fully compensate you for your losses. Trust your experienced personal injury attorney advice during this process.

4. Going to Trial

If the negotiation process fails to result in a fair settlement, your attorney may recommend taking the case to trial. During the trial, both sides will present their evidence, and a judge or jury will determine the outcome. While going to trial can potentially result in a higher compensation amount, taking your personal injury lawsuit to trial also involves more time, effort, and risk.

In conclusion, determining how much someone can sue for their car accident claims depends on several factors, including liability, the severity of injuries, the medical treatment and expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and comparative negligence. It is crucial to hire an experienced car accident attorney to help you navigate the legal process and maximize your compensation.

What if my family member was killed in a car accident?

Losing a family member in a car accident can be an incredibly difficult and traumatic experience. In these unfortunate circumstances, most states permit surviving family members to pursue legal action by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.


The objective of this legal recourse is to provide financial compensation for damages incurred as a result of their loved one's untimely passing. The law recognizes that the loss of someone close can have far-reaching consequences beyond just emotional distress.

Surviving family members may suffer from financial hardship due to lost income, medical bills, funeral expenses, and other related costs. For this reason, they are entitled to seek recovery for both economic and non-economic damages.

  • Economic damages refer to actual monetary losses that arise from the death of the victim. This includes any wages or benefits that would have been earned had they survived as well as any medical expenses incurred before their passing. Funeral costs and other associated expenses are also taken into account when calculating economic damages.
  • Non-economic damages cover intangible losses such as pain and suffering endured by survivors due to their loved one's death or loss of companionship, affection or guidance provided by the deceased individual. These types of losses cannot be quantified in terms of dollars but carry significant weight when determining appropriate compensation amounts.

It should be noted that there are strict time limits within which surviving family members must file wrongful death lawsuits after an accident takes place; therefore it is essential that families act promptly if they wish to pursue such claims against those responsible for causing such accidents.

In most states the time limit is: 2 to 3 years. However, this may vary depending on the specific state laws.

Concluding thoughts

In conclusion, the amount one can sue for in a car accident case depends on various factors, such as liability, injury severity, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and comparative negligence.

Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is crucial to navigate the complex legal process and maximize your compensation.

For those who have lost a family member in a car accident, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide financial compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.

Whatever your situation may be, it is essential to act promptly and consult with a qualified attorney to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve after a car accident.