Understanding When Suing An At-Fault Driver Is Reasonable

An auto accident lawyer's usual approach to obtaining compensation for clients is to negotiate with the insurance company. That typically is a successful strategy. If an insurer continues to be uncooperative, the attorney might file a lawsuit against the company. A less frequent but potential tactic is to sue the person who caused the accident. This sometimes is an option if the policy's maximum is too low to cover all the expenses.

Personal Injury Protection

In regard to automotive insurance, a dozen states are no-fault states. No matter who causes a vehicle collision, each person's own coverage pays for damage to the automobile and costs associated with injuries. Residents are required to carry a certain amount of personal injury protection (PIP). PIP is available in other states as well so residents can protect themselves against uninsured motorists.

In some states, the minimum amount mandated by law is far too low in many situations. Some individuals select the minimum allowed by law because this keeps their premiums low. In addition, certain states set a maximum allowed that may not cover all expenses. The company only has to provide the maximum amount on the policy. An injured person might need a lawyer to sue the at-fault driver to recoup costs for medical bills and related expenses.

Liability Coverage

In other states, all vehicle owners are required to carry their own liability insurance to cover the expenses of anyone they injure in an accident. A problem with this approach is when a policyholder has chosen an insufficient amount. They may believe they'll never cause an accident and do not see the choice as a risk. An auto accident attorney may file a lawsuit in this case.


PIP and liability insurance also are intended to pay an injured person's lost wages while he or she cannot work. That adds to the amount the individual might need in addition to fixing or replacing a vehicle and paying for overwhelmingly expensive medical care. The person's health insurance may cover most of this, but there could be a high deductible and co-pay involved. Some costs might be excluded from that policy.

Important Considerations

The main issue to consider regarding filing a suit is whether the driver who caused the accident has enough assets to cover the plaintiff's expenses. Many individuals who choose low PIP and liability coverage do so because they have a minimal amount of assets. Unless the person who was at fault has a substantial amount of savings or owns real estate or a successful business, suing is pointless. An auto accident attorney can evaluate the case during a free initial consultation.