Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit: Quick Facts

Rachel N. Woloshin

Author: Rachel N. Woloshin

POST DATE: 3.8.22
Ccha  Personal Injury

Pursuing a car accident claim can be a complicated process. Even if you think your case is strong, the other driver’s insurance company will do whatever possible to minimize or eliminate any payout. That may require you to file a car accident lawsuit if you want to continue pursuing a claim. Understandably, you might have questions on how to file and what happens next. If you are trying to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages, it’s best to contact an experienced Indiana car accident lawyer who can assist you.

To ensure you file correctly, hiring a lawyer is highly recommended. Look for an attorney with extensive experience handling car accident claims, including litigation. You want someone who can show successful case results—settlements, trial awards, etc. Choosing the right attorney for your case is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit Quick Facts March 2022 CCHA blogtwitter

Establishing Standing to File Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuit

Before you file a car accident lawsuit, you must establish that you have legal standing. You need evidence of the following:

  • You have the legal capacity to file a motor vehicle accident lawsuit. Someone who is under 18 years old or lacks mental competency cannot file a lawsuit. However, they can have someone else file on their behalf.
  • You suffered harm in the car accident. For example, you can’t file a lawsuit because your mother got into an accident and you want to recover compensation for her injuries.
  • You believe the named defendant is responsible for your injuries. In other words, there must be a connection for you to file a lawsuit against someone. You cannot randomly name defendants because you have a grudge against them.
  • The court can provide the relief you seek, such as financial relief for your car accident.

Your attorney will discuss all the facts of your case to ensure you have legal standing to file a vehicle accident lawsuit. You may meet all the aforementioned requirements but still have no legal standing. For example, if you already signed a car accident settlement agreement form, such as a release of all claims, you can’t sue for the compensation you already received. If you signed the release and never received your settlement check, you might have grounds to bring a lawsuit for a breach of contract instead. We encourage you to consult a personal injury attorney at CCHA prior to signing any release.

Determine Where to File a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuit in Indiana

Once you have established legal standing, you need to determine where to file. If the amount of money you’re demanding is under $6,000, you can file your case without an attorney in small claims court. Small claims courts are more informal than regular civil courts, so it’s a suitable venue for more minor accidents with mostly property damage.

When determining which geographic location to file in, you can’t just pick the closest court to your home. After a car accident, suing an at-fault driver must be done in the proper venue. You must choose a court that has the right to hear your lawsuit. The options are the county where the accident occurred or where the defendant lives.

Filing and Serving Your Car Accident Lawsuit

You must file a summons and complaint to get litigation started. The complaint explains why you are suing (facts of your case), how the defendant is responsible, and how much compensation you are demanding. The summons lets the defendant know you are suing them.

You will need to follow Indiana’s Rules of Trial Procedure and any local rules for the court where you are filing. Indiana allows for several methods of filing your complaint. They are:

  • Electronic filing through Indiana Odyssey File & Serve;
  • Deliver the summons and complaint in person to the court clerk;
  • Fax your documents to the court clerk (if the court you’re filing accepts facsimile filings); or
  • Send it via certified, registered, or express mail to the court clerk (be sure to request return receipt).

You will also have to properly serve the defendant with the summons and complaint. There are only specific accepted methods for serving a summons. The best option is to hire a process server who does this for a living. They know all the applicable court rules and will serve your car accident complaint according to local rules.

What Happens Once You File a Vehicle Accident Lawsuit?

Once you file and serve the lawsuit, the defendant must respond and file their answer. If they fail to respond within the allotted time frame, you can request a default judgment in many situations. If they do file a response, typically then the discovery phase begins. Your attorney will walk you through the steps of discovery and what you can expect.

How To Get Started

If you are researching how to file a car accident lawsuit in Indiana, contact Church Church Hittle + Antrim to schedule an initial consultation. Our firm was founded in 1880. We have been representing injured Indiana victims for over 140 years. We can file a lawsuit on your behalf and help you pursue the compensation you’re entitled to receive. Call one of our offices or contact us online.