Do You Have To Sue Your Insurer After A Car Accident?

The normal process for a victim of a car accident is to file a claim with the at-fault party's insurer. Within a reasonable timeframe, the insurance company will usually pay the claim and that's that.

Some cases end up more complex, though. Particularly, there are scenarios where you might have to hire a car accident attorney so you can sue your insurer.

Why Would You Target Your Insurance Provider?

There are four common reasons why someone might pursue a case against their insurer. First, the other driver may have been uninsured or underinsured. Two, the insurer might have determined you weren't covered by a policy provision when you know you were. Three, the incident involved a single vehicle. Finally, your insurer might have offered a settlement in one of the previous scenarios, but you don't feel it is enough.

Can You Sue?

A car accident lawyer will want to have a long look at your insurance policy. Most of your legal standing to sue your insurance company is grounded in whatever the terms of the policy are.

If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, for example, your insurer is supposed to make up the difference between the at-fault driver's policy and yours. That, at least, goes up to whatever the value of your coverage is supposed to be. A similar argument applies if you were involved in a single-vehicle accident.

The scenario that can be tricky to fight over is whether a policy provision covers an incident. For example, someone who has minimum coverage will have a hard time bringing a suit in a one-vehicle incident or an accident involving nothing on the roadway, such as a tree falling on the car.

When Can You Sue?

You'll first need to prove that you made a good faith effort to file a claim through normal channels. If you sue without filing a claim, it's a near-certainty that a judge will dismiss the case for lack of ripeness.

Likewise, the insurer needs a fair opportunity to respond to a claim. You can't file suit a week after sending out paperwork. However, a car accident lawyer probably would have grounds to sue if the insurer never responds within 6 months. Generally, though, an overt rejection sets these cases in motion.

Once there, the pre-trial process begins. A judge will review the case for merit. If it appears valid, the court will order discovery and set the case on a path to a trial.

If you have more questions, contact a local car accident lawyer.