What Happens in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

What Happens in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

When a car accident hurts you, you may have options for pursuing necessary compensation. One of the ways you can seek justice and monetary recovery is through a car accident lawsuit, also known as a personal injury claim.

But what happens during a car accident lawsuit, and what can you expect during your case? These claims are often straightforward, but depending on the specifics of your case, you may encounter some challenges. Fortunately, a Philadelphia car accident attorney can provide quality representation throughout the process, helping you secure the compensation you deserve.

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Why File a Car Accident Lawsuit?

This image shows the legal issues  of a car accident lawsuit.

Car accident lawsuits are not necessary in every case. Instead, you may obtain favorable compensation by filing an auto insurance claim, eliminating the need for a court case.

Still, in some cases, an insurance claim is insufficient or may not be an option at all. In these situations, filing a car accident lawsuit can give you the best chance of getting monetary recovery.

The Insurance Company Isn’t Cooperating

Insurance companies are difficult to deal with. They’re sneaky and untrustworthy, as they try to limit their liability and fight to avoid paying you what your claim is worth. Therefore, it’s not a surprise when the insurance company fails to cooperate at some point during your claim process.

When the insurer does not want to settle your claim fairly or denies your claim, you may decide to proceed with a lawsuit to continue your pursuit of fair financial recovery.

You’ve Reached Policy Limits

Every driver with auto insurance has specific policy limits. States require drivers to carry at least minimum coverage requirements under the law.

These limits represent how much the insurance company will pay for an accident. For example, a driver in a no-fault state may have $10,000 in personal injury protection, and a driver in a fault state may carry $25,000 coverage for injuries per person per accident.

When you reach policy limits, whether under your own insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance, you may recover less compensation than you need to cover your losses and expenses. Under certain circumstances, when this happens, you can file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault party for additional monetary recovery.

The At-Fault Driver is Uninsured

While most states require drivers to carry auto insurance, some drivers may break the law and drive without any insurance protection. When this happens, you may have options, including filing a claim under your own uninsured motorist policy, if available.

Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses.

Pre-Lawsuit Steps

The lawsuit process doesn’t necessarily begin when you file your claim in court. Instead, it begins long before filing your claim. What you do before filing your car accident lawsuit can impact your future case.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer

First and foremost, following a collision, you can consult a car accident attorney. A lawyer can benefit your claim in numerous ways and give you a better chance of acquiring compensation.

During your consultation, your lawyer can ask questions, obtain preliminary information, and give you their professional advice and opinion. Once you sign the necessary documentation and formally hire your lawyer, they can begin working on your case right away, ensuring your claim is handled properly and timely.

File an Insurance Claim

Highlights the elimination of physical paperwork through electronic signatures on a tablet about car insurance.

Often, you don’t jump straight to filing a car accident lawsuit. Instead, you begin the compensation process by filing an insurance claim.

You can file your insurance claim alone or with the help of your lawyer. Once you open your claim, the insurer assigns an insurance adjuster to your case. The insurance adjuster is the point of contact, in charge of investigating your accident and assigning a monetary value to your claim.

The insurance company may approve your claim and offer you a settlement offer. Depending on the value of their offer, your lawyer may need to negotiate to get a better settlement.

Should the insurance company deny your claim, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road. Your attorney can take further action to pursue fair financial recovery.

Send a Demand Letter

When your insurance claim doesn’t go as planned, your car accident lawyer can step in and send the insurance company a demand letter. The demand letter will contain specific information concerning your accident and resulting injuries and damages and details regarding liability.

At the end of the letter, your attorney can include a monetary figure representing your claim's value and request a settlement for that amount. The letter also serves as notice to the insurance company that if they fail to take appropriate steps to settle your claim, your lawyer will not shy away from taking further legal action.

Sometimes, the demand letter yields favorable results. If so, you can settle your claim and move on. Alternatively, you may need to continue on the path toward compensation and file a car accident lawsuit.

What Happens During a Car Accident Lawsuit

If you never had to file a civil lawsuit, the thought of filing a car accident claim can intimidate you. Knowing what to expect can help ease your stress and give you peace of mind about the process.

Initiating Your Claim

The first step is to file your lawsuit at your local courthouse. Your car accident attorney can draft the petition and submit it to the court along with supporting documentation and appropriate fees.

Once your claim is filed, you must notify the opposing party (the respondent) through service of process. The opposing party will receive copies of your court filings, giving them time to review your complaint and draft their response.

After the respondent party files their response with the court, the lawsuit process can continue.

Engaging in Discovery

Discovery is the most critical stage of a lawsuit. During this time, your lawyer and the opposing party’s legal team can request and obtain pertinent information and evidence to strengthen their cases.

Certain legal tools are at their disposal to aid in the process, including requests for production, interrogatories, and depositions.

Because this is the most crucial time in a lawsuit, it is also usually the most time-consuming. Discovery ends after all parties have acquired everything they need for their cases, sometimes on a specific date. The discovery phase can take just a few weeks for simpler cases or several months for more complex situations.

Resolving Your Claim

This image portrays a lighthearted and creative way to represent filing a car insurance claim, using toy cars to symbolize the real accident.

After discovery, parties are better equipped to revisit settlement negotiations. Normally, resolving a car accident case involves engaging in back-and-forth negotiations in an attempt to settle the case and avoid court.

Most personal injury claims, like car accident cases, settle before trial. Nonetheless, a small percentage of cases still carry on to the courtroom if you cannot settle.

During trial, your car accident lawyer and the opposing party present their cases in front of a judge, and sometimes a jury as well. Parties make their arguments and offer evidence and testimony to build up their cases. At the end of the trial, the judge renders the decision.

It’s worth noting that, even if your case goes to court, you might still settle. Cases often settle during the trial, as attorneys work together to resolve the case quicker.

Regardless of what happens with your case, you can trust your car accident attorney will do everything necessary to get you the best possible case result. An experienced lawyer has the skills, tools, and resources to help acquire just compensation, one way or another, despite any obstacles.

Key Components of a Car Accident Claim

During your car accident lawsuit, you’ll notice some details are crucial to the success of your case. Your attorney pays special attention to these factors, as they can heavily impact the value and outcome of your claim.


Determining the cause of your auto collision is critical. While it may be obvious in some accidents, it requires more digging in others.

Common causes of car crashes include:

  • Driver negligence: Including speeding, aggressive driving, distracted driving, driving while impaired, failing to yield, and violating road laws.
  • Hazardous road conditions: Such as potholes, uneven or cracked pavement, loose gravel and debris, missing or defective road signs and lights, and improperly designed or constructed roads. 
  • Product defects and malfunctions: These include mechanical failures, issues with brakes and steering, and defective airbags and tires. 

Understanding the cause of your collision can help clarify who is responsible, which can ensure you file your claim against the appropriate party.


After figuring out the cause of your accident, you can establish liability.

One or more parties may cause your accident, including:

  • Car and truck drivers
  • Drivers’ employers
  • Maintenance and repair companies
  • Governmental entities
  • Product designers, manufacturers, or distributors

Car accident cases most often involve negligence.

To prove a party’s negligence, you’ll need to satisfy the required elements, including:

  • Duty: The party owed you a duty of care at the time of your collision.
  • Breach: The party’s action or inaction resulted in a breach of their duty of care.
  • Causation: The party’s breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of your car accident.
  • Damages: You suffered injuries and losses due to your auto collision.

Your car accident lawyer can use evidence to establish the other party’s fault, like police reports, black box data, and surveillance footage.


Sheet metal damage is a common occurrence for cars. Two cars crashed on the road.

Your damages represent the monetary and non-monetary losses directly from your car accident. Damages compensate you and alleviate the financial burdens you face following your collision.

The damages you may receive depend on the specifics of your case, but can include:

  • Past and future medical expenses, including surgeries, hospital stays, and medication
  • Therapy and rehabilitation
  • Property damage
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The value of your claim rests upon several details, including the extent of your physical injuries, the cost of your medical treatment, and the total of your lost earnings.

Your car accident attorney must thoroughly review these and other factors to more accurately determine how much your case is worth and pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf.

Time Limits for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit

While you may want or need to file a car accident lawsuit following your collision, you don’t have unlimited time to do so. State law in every state imposes statutes of limitations, restricting the time injured collision victims have to file their claims in court.

Depending on your state’s laws, you may have as little as one year or as many as six years to file your lawsuit. While this may provide a false sense of security, time passes rather quickly after an accident, and you may miss your deadline if you don’t move quickly enough.

Working with a seasoned car accident lawyer can eliminate any worry you may have concerning time limits for your claim. However, you want to give your attorney enough time to efficiently handle your claim, which usually includes many pre-lawsuit steps.

Therefore, you should seek legal representation as early as possible after a car crash to avoid forfeiting your right to compensation.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer Following an Auto Collision

After a car crash, you may face many challenging times and monetary hardships. Still, you don’t have to carry your burdens or fight your battles alone. A Philadelphia personal injury attorney can provide the support you need while fighting diligently to protect your rights and pursue beneficial compensation on your behalf.

The car accident lawsuit process can seem daunting and scary, especially if you’re unfamiliar with it. Having a lawyer on your side can make the process a bit less taxing, as you’ll know what to expect and have a strong ally on your side.

Move quickly following a collision and take action to seek justice and financial recovery, whether or not your situation involves a car accident lawsuit.

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Gabriel Levin Author Image

Gabriel Levin - Attorney

Gabriel Levin is a highly experienced and credible attorney with over 10 years of practice in Pennsylvania. Known for his tenacity, he has represented clients in a wide range of civil matters, trying hundreds of cases. He prepares each case as if it will go to trial, ensuring meticulous attention to detail.

Unlike many firms that delegate tasks, Levin personally handles every aspect of a case and maintains open communication with clients throughout. He has secured millions in compensation, making him a reliable choice for those seeking legal representation.

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