Can I File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

Anyone who has been in a car accident knows just how overwhelming and scary the entire situation can be – especially if you or someone in your car has been injured. Filing a lawsuit after you've been injured in a car accident is usually the last thing on your mind. However, it may be a necessary step in getting the compensation you deserve in order to pay your bills and move forward. If you've been injured in a car accident, and you believe you're entitled to compensation, the best thing you can do is to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney.

When it comes to a car accident case, you normally must establish the four elements of negligence: 1) that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, 2) that the duty of care was breached, 3) that the defendant's negligence was the cause of the injury; and 4) that the plaintiff was actually injured.

Duty of Care

When filing a personal injury lawsuit, the first thing you need to do is prove that the person that injured you, also known as the defendant, has a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution in regard to your safety. When it comes to car accidents, there is little question that the law requires everyone who drives a car to exercise caution when driving in order to ensure the safety of others on the road. 

Breach of Duty

Once you have been able to establish that the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care, you need to prove that they broke that duty. In general, this means that you need to prove that the defendant failed to act the way a reasonably careful person would have acted in the same situation. For example, if you were in a car accident where the other person was driving drunk, speeding, or driving recklessly, this will help prove that the defendant's conduct was outside the standard of acting reasonably. This is where witnesses are also helpful as they can testify as to what they observed. Also, photographs help paint a picture of what happened and will help establish fault and liability.


Next, you need to prove that the defendant's conduct caused the injury. In other words, you must prove that if it weren't for the defendant's actions, the injury wouldn't have happened. Sometimes this is easy to prove, and sometimes it is much more difficult. For example, if the defendant ran into you while you were walking across the street and you suffered broken bones. Other times it's more difficult, such as when you have a pre-existing condition. In this situation, it's harder to prove that your injuries actually came from the car accident. This is where your choice of attorney really makes a difference. 

Injury and Damages

The last thing you must prove in order to make a personal injury claim is the extent of the resulting injury. Proof of injury can be shown through photographic evidence, medical records, and testimony from medical providers. You also need to be able to support why you're asking for a certain amount of money, known as damages. Medical treatment records and bills are the best evidence of the extent of injuries, and any claim of future medical care needs to be supported by expert testimony from medical professionals. You can also show payroll information from employers in order to establish lost wages. Again, your choice of attorney could really make a difference in your recovery.

Proving these four elements of negligence may seem daunting if you're trying to do it on your own, which is why it's important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.