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How Car Accident Claims Work in Nashville, TN

Offered by Law Office of Eric Beasley

Step-by-step instructions from an experienced Nashville car accident lawyer

Navigating car accident claims can be a daunting task for most people, especially when they’ve been injured. Understanding the nuances of Tennessee's filing regulations, deciphering complex insurance policy terms, and taking the correct actions to secure a favorable outcome can be overwhelming. A single misstep in this process can give insurance companies the advantage they need to diminish or deny your rightful compensation.

However, you don't have to face these challenges alone. An experienced Nashville car accident lawyer can guide you through this complex process. With their knowledge and experience on your side, you can confidently navigate the obstacles of your car accident case and work toward securing the maximum compensation you deserve. To take the first step toward your recovery and justice, contact a verified Nashville attorney today and schedule your free consultation.

What to do after a car accident that’s not your fault

Knowing what to do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident is crucial for ensuring your safety and protecting your legal rights. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Prioritize safety: Your first concern should be the safety of everyone involved. Move your vehicle and yourself to a secure location, such as the side of the road, a parking lot, or a nearby side street.
  • Check for injuries: Assess yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911 immediately for emergency medical assistance.
  • Notify the police: Call the police to report the car accident and wait for an officer to arrive at the scene. A police report can be essential for documenting the incident.
  • Exchange information: While waiting for the police, exchange contact information, insurance details, driver's licenses, and license plate numbers with the other driver involved in the accident.
  • Gather witness information: If witnesses are present, obtain their contact information and statements regarding what they observed during the accident. Their accounts can be valuable for your case.
  • Document the scene: Take photographs of the crash scene, including vehicle damage, positions of the vehicles, weather conditions, tire marks, and any visible injuries. These visual records can serve as critical evidence.
  • Seek medical evaluation: Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, seeking a prompt medical evaluation is essential. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately, particularly if you're experiencing shock and adrenaline. Early medical documentation can be vital for your health and any potential legal claims.

How to file an insurance claim against the other driver

First, you’ll need to contact your insurance company to report the car accident you were involved in. If possible, you should do this within 24 hours of your crash.

Provide them with basic details regarding the car accident. This includes the date, time, location, parties involved, and any injuries you sustained. Never admit fault or discuss who was to blame, as this can potentially jeopardize your claim.

Often, you’ll need to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. While you can do this independently, it’s not usually recommended. Insurance companies are known for exploiting injured motorists who don’t know their rights. Any statements you provide them can be used to downplay, delay, or deny your claim.

When you hire a Nashville car accident lawyer, they can handle all communications with the other driver’s insurance company. This protects your rights and sets the stage for future communications. Additionally, an attorney can negotiate with insurance companies until they reach a settlement agreement that covers the full extent of your damages.

What are the three most important tips for filing an auto insurance claim?

When filing an auto insurance claim, three crucial tips can significantly influence the outcome and efficiency of the process:

1. File your claim promptly

Tennessee’s statute of limitations allows you to file a car accident claim within one year from the date of your crash. If you miss this deadline, you may be unable to file a lawsuit. As a result, the other driver’s insurance company may refrain from offering a settlement since they don’t have to worry about going to trial.

However, it’s best to file your claim as soon as possible. Evidence can disappear within one year or become more difficult to obtain. Moreover, witnesses can forget specific details regarding what they saw as time passes.

When you file your claim promptly, an attorney can gather evidence and witness statements while they’re fresh. This can increase the validity of your claim and your chances of getting compensated fairly.

2. Document everything

Gather and preserve as much evidence as possible. This doesn’t just include the evidence you gather from the crash scene; it also includes evidence of your losses during the aftermath. Be sure to document and preserve the following: • Your medical evaluation and diagnosis.

  • Hospital and medical appointment bills or receipts.
  • Medication prescriptions.
  • Imaging results such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.
  • Future medical treatment, such as ongoing rehabilitation.
  • A log of appointment attendance.
  • Pay stubs, tax returns, and/or a note from your employer.
  • Vehicle repair estimates, bills, or receipts.
  • A daily journal of how your injury impacts the quality of your life.

3. Avoid giving recorded statements

The other driver’s insurance company may contact you with some questions. Be aware that anything you tell them can be misconstrued as admitting fault. Once you make a statement to them, there’s no taking it back.

It’s best to let an experienced Nashville car accident attorney handle all communications and negotiations with insurance companies so you don’t jeopardize your chances of getting fair and full compensation for your losses.

How does car insurance work when you’re not at fault?

Tennessee is an “at-fault” or “tort” insurance state. This means the other driver’s insurance company would be responsible for compensating you if you’re not at fault. To be eligible for compensation, certain criteria must be met to prove liability, including:

  • Duty of care: All drivers have a duty of care to drive safely and responsibly. This includes adhering to all traffic laws and considering the safety of other road users.
  • Breach of duty of care: This occurs when a driver breaches their duty of care by speeding, ignoring traffic signals, driving distracted, driving impaired, or otherwise being negligent.
  • Injury causation: There must be an established link between another driver’s breach of duty of care and your injuries.
  • Damages accrued: You must have accrued real damages as a result of your crash-related injuries, such as medical bills or lost wages.

How is liability established in a car accident case?

To establish liability, a car accident lawyer will need to conduct a thorough investigation. This involves:

Reviewing the police report

This report typically includes the officer's observations, statements from those involved, road conditions, and any citations issued. It sometimes contains the officer's opinion on who was at fault.

Speaking to witnesses

Witnesses can provide crucial information that may not be included in the police report and a different perspective on how the crash occurred.

Assessing vehicle damage

This assessment helps in understanding the severity and mechanics of the crash. That includes the point of impact, the speed of the vehicles, and the direction they were traveling.

Reconstructing the crash scene

The attorney may work with accident reconstruction experts to recreate the crash scene. This involves analyzing physical evidence, vehicle damage, and witness accounts to piece together the events leading up to, during, and after the collision.

Obtaining video footage

An attorney may gather evidence from traffic cameras, dashcam footage, or surveillance videos from nearby businesses.

How do insurance companies pay out claims on a car accident?

Based on the investigation and policy details, the insurance company may make a settlement offer to cover your damages. This offer should ideally cover the costs of repairs, medical expenses, and any other losses relating to your crash.

However, it’s important to remember that insurance companies are businesses that are in business to make profits. As such, it’s common for an insurance company’s initial settlement offer to fall far short of covering the full extent of the victim’s damages.

You can accept or reject the initial settlement offer. If the car insurance claim payout is insufficient, your attorney can negotiate for a higher amount. Once the settlement amount is agreed upon, the insurance company can issue a payment directly to you. This is usually done in a lump sum payment.

What if an uninsured or unidentified driver hit me?

Insurance companies in Tennessee must provide uninsured motorist (UM) coverage to all drivers. However, drivers can opt out of UM coverage if they choose to do so.

UM coverage pays for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage. This type of insurance applies when you’re involved in a crash with an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver who can’t be identified.

To take advantage of this coverage, you must file a claim with your own insurance company. However, you’ll need to verify that you have UM coverage. If you don’t already have it, it’s recommended that you add it to your auto insurance policy. Without UM, you could end up paying out of pocket for your damages if you find yourself in this situation.

Many are concerned about using their own insurance to secure a recovery, as they worry that using their own coverage could result in their insurance costs increasing, or in the cancellation of their automobile coverage. Fortunately, Tennessee law protects against this. When the collision is the fault of another, not only can your own insurance company not cancel your coverage, they are forbidden from even raising your premiums.

How long does it take to settle a car accident claim in Tennessee?

The time it takes to settle a car accident claim in Tennessee can vary. While it's challenging to provide a specific timeframe, here are some common factors that can influence the duration:

  • Complexity of the crash: In most cases, car accidents with clear liability may be settled within a few weeks to a few months. However, collisions involving multiple vehicles, disputed liability, or fatalities can extend to a year or more in some cases. It really depends on the specific circumstances surrounding your claim.
  • Severity of injuries: Claims involving serious injuries often take longer to settle. An attorney will need to assess the full extent of the injuries, ongoing medical treatment needs, and the long-term prognosis before negotiating a settlement.
  • Insurance company procedures: The insurance company’s efficiency, policies, and willingness to settle can impact the settlement timeline. Some insurers may process claims more swiftly than others, while others may intentionally delay the process to pressure the victim to settle for less than they deserve.

What if a settlement can’t be reached?

Most car accident cases are settled without the need for litigation. However, if an insurance company refuses to settle, an attorney can file a lawsuit and take the case to trial. They’ll present evidence, call on witnesses to testify, and argue for maximum compensation through a court award.

In some cases, both parties might agree to mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps facilitate a discussion and find a mutually agreeable solution. Mediation is often less formal and costly than going to court.

Contact a Nashville car accident lawyer to handle your claim

While car accident claims can be confusing, hiring an attorney can help streamline the process and safeguard your rights. It doesn’t cost anything upfront to hire a Nashville car accident lawyer. Consultations are free and offer a chance to ask questions and discuss the details of your car accident.

In addition, car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means there are no upfront or hidden costs, and you pay no fees unless they win your case. If you were injured in a car accident in Nashville or anywhere in Middle Tennessee, contact a verified attorney for a free, no-obligation case consultation.

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