Navigating the aftermath of a car accident in Norfolk or Virginia Beach and seeking compensation for your injuries can be a confusing experience, especially if you've never been in such a situation before. You may wonder whether you file your civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver or their insurance company. Our experienced Norfolk car accident lawyers at Tavss Fletcher are here to guide you through the process, explaining your options and helping you obtain the damages you rightfully deserve under Virginia law.
Your First Step: Filing a Claim With the Negligent Driver's Insurance Company
After an auto crash in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, your first step is to file a claim with the at-fault motorist's insurance company. Filing a claim is different from filing a complaint in court.
While you can initiate this process independently, retaining an auto crash attorney to represent your interests is highly advisable. Insurance companies often employ tactics to deny claims and minimize payouts. Having a lawyer represent you can level the playing field and help you obtain the settlement you deserve.
Who You Sue If You Must File a Lawsuit in a Norfolk Car Collision Case
If negotiations with the insurance company are unsuccessful, your next step is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, not their insurance company. When you file a civil complaint against the at-fault driver, their insurance company will typically step in to defend them. This means that even though you're suing the driver, the insurance company retains a lawyer and handles the legal proceedings on their behalf.
Reasons You May Have to Litigate Your Claim
While most car accident cases are settled during the insurance claims process, there are situations where filing a lawsuit becomes necessary. Here are two common reasons.
Insurance Company Refuses to Be Reasonable
If the insurance company denies your claim or offers an unreasonably low settlement that does not fairly compensate you for your injuries and losses, filing a lawsuit may be your best option. Even after starting the litigation process, you will still likely settle your claim before it goes to a jury trial. Many car wreck cases are resolved through negotiated settlements while they are being litigated in Virginia.
Statute of Limitations Will Expire
Virginia has a statute of limitations that imposes a two-year deadline from the car accident date for filing a lawsuit. If this deadline is approaching and negotiations with the insurance company are still ongoing, filing a complaint against the driver may be necessary to protect your right to seek compensation for your injuries.