Motor Vehicle Accidents

Unveiling the Legal Landscape: How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident Claim?

October 26, 2023
Car crash side collision between two gray vehicles on street during daytime rear bumper damage

Motor vehicle accidents are, sadly, common in NY and NJ. In NYC alone, there were over 100,000 car crashes last year! If you’re unfortunate enough to be in a road crash, you should know your legal rights. Below, we explain what you can sue for in a car accident claim, and how much your case may be worth.

Car Accident Claims

If you’re hurt in a car crash, you have two choices for making a claim.

  • You can file an insurance claim with your own insurance carrier.
  • If someone else caused the crash, or your insurance doesn’t cover the damage, you can file a civil lawsuit.

The type of claim you make could influence how much you’re able to sue for.

As an example, say you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence. This may be worth more than if you’re just filing a simple insurance claim for property damage. An attorney can explain how best to proceed with a claim.

Claims Deadlines

There are deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims.

  • Personal injury claims: Three years from accident date (NY) or two years from accident date (NJ). Exceptions apply for minors and in certain other circumstances.
  • Insurance claims: Deadlines range depending on where you’re located and your insurance policy. The maximum filing deadline is usually 30 days from the accident date but you often have less time.

You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. Not only can they estimate how much you can sue for, but they’ll ensure you don’t miss key deadlines.

How Much Can You Sue For?

It’s clear that you can sue for various losses after a car crash. But how much can you sue for? There’s no simple answer to this question.

However, in most cases, victims can sue for economic and non-economic damages.

  • Economic Damages: Your actual financial losses e.g. medical bills and lost income.
  • Non-economic Damages: These losses are harder to quantify, but include pain and suffering, distress, and loss of consortium.

Economic and non-economic damages are types of compensatory damages. What are compensatory damages, though? Let’s take a look.

Compensatory damages aim to compensate the victim for their actual, tangible losses. They’re not always easy to quantify, though. For example, it’s hard to put a price on pain and suffering. The actual award will vary significantly from case to case.

In serious cases, victims (or their loved ones) might also sue for punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant.

Courts don’t award punitive damages lightly. They’re usually only available if the defendant behaved deliberately or maliciously. If awarded, though, punitive damages can be significant.

Close up of man in red car leaning forward resting against steering wheel clutching lower back after car accident

Are There Caps on What I Can Sue For?

Caps are limits on how much you can sue for. The good news is that there are no caps on compensatory damages in NJ or NY. There may, however, be caps on punitive damages.

In NY, there are no caps on damages. It doesn’t matter if you sue for compensatory or punitive damages. You get what the judge deems a fair amount.

But in NJ, there are limits on punitive damages. You can’t get more than $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages – whichever is greater.

Can I Sue Someone for Damaging My Car?

Yes. Even if you’re not injured, you can sue for property damage. Usually, this means making an insurance claim. You can claim for various losses, including:

  • Property damage
  • Repair costs
  • Anxiety and suffering caused by the accident

Property claims aren’t always easy to prove, especially if you’re trying to prove the other driver caused the damage. You might seek legal advice if:

  • You also have personal injuries
  • There’s significant property damage
  • The insurance company denies your claim

Unsure if you’ve received a fair settlement offer from your insurance carrier? An attorney can help you negotiate for the maximum amount possible.

Knowing How Much to Sue for After a Car Accident

It’s difficult to accurately value a car accident claim. However, what you can sue depends on various factors, including:

  • The evidence available
  • The extent of property damage
  • Whether anyone is hurt
  • If you have losses e.g. lost wages, lost earning potential

Every case is unique. Your attorney can only determine how much you might sue for after carefully considering your case.

How to Sue Someone for a Car Accident

Do you wish to pursue a claim? To maximize your damages, here’s what to do immediately after the crash and in the following days or weeks.

  • Call the police if there’s property damage or any injuries. If you want to sue someone for the car accident, the accident report can be helpful.
  • Take pictures (or videos) of the crash scene. Capture any property damage and/or personal injuries.
  • Seek medical care for your injuries. Medical records may influence how much you can sue for.
  • Report the crash to your insurance company. Filing deadlines may apply – check your policy so you don’t lose your right to claim.
  • Contact a personal injury attorney. They can explain the types of damages you can sue for and what your case is worth.

Experienced Car Accident Lawyers

Car accident cases can be complex. If you’re new to this area of law, it’s hard to understand how much you can sue. It’s also tricky to know how to make a claim.

That’s where we can help. Our auto accident lawyers know how serious these crashes can be. Even if you’re not severely injured, you could face significant losses. We want to help you cover these losses and get the damages you deserve.

Our experienced attorneys handle personal injury cases like yours every day. We’re passionate about helping car accident victims get justice – and a fair amount of compensation. To schedule your free case evaluation, call now or reach us online. Or let our team come to you!

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