Common Questions From Accident Victims in Tennessee
The victims of serious injuries and accidents are often left with a lot of questions. In our FAQ, you can get the answers to some of the most common questions our Nashville injury attorneys hear, as well as important information about your rights and legal options if you’ve been hurt in Tennessee.
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Which doctor should I go to after a car accident?
Victims should get medical care as soon as possible after a car accident, whether by visiting the emergency room or seeing their regular doctor in the hours after a crash. However, patients will need someone to provide continuing care related to the crash after this initial treatment—and that often means choosing someone other than a primary care doctor to treat crash injuries.
Choosing the Right Doctor to Treat Your Car Accident Injuries
Insurance companies will only provide payment if you have proper medical evidence of your injuries. For this reason, you will need an injury doctor who will thoroughly document the cause, treatment, and long-term effects of your injuries in your medical records. The best choice for your ongoing treatment is someone who has experience treating car accident victims and who specializes in your specific type of injury.
A specialist can be invaluable to your health and your case by:
- Documenting what happened to you in the accident. A specialist who has treated car accident victims before can give a medical opinion on how your injuries were sustained in the accident (such as a head striking a steering wheel), making it more difficult for insurers to deny the claim.
- Addressing any pre-existing conditions. Your specialist can identify whether the accident aggravated a previous injury or condition you had suffered in the past, allowing you to claim an additional amount to treat these conditions.
- Ordering tests, referrals, and specialized treatments. In addition to performing blood tests and ordering imaging studies (such as MRIs or X-rays), specialists may refer you to physical therapists, occupational therapists, and vocational rehabilitation experts who can fully evaluate you to determine the full range of your suffering and losses.
- Giving a prognosis on future medical care. Although every accident is different, a specialist who routinely treats crash victims has the ability to predict how these injuries will affect patients later in life. Some common complications that may be noted in your medical record include permanent impairment ratings, an estimation of future medical needs, and your ability to work, perform self-care, and enjoy life.
If you are struggling to recover payment after a car accident, we can take over the fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you are owed. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Is it true that I cannot sue the driver of a municipal vehicle in Tennessee?
While municipal vehicles such as ambulances, police cars, garbage trucks, and school buses are just as likely to be involved in an accident as passenger cars, state laws make cases against the at-fault driver more complex. Tennessee laws prevent car accident victims from suing individual drivers who are employed by state or city governments. However, the victim can bring a claim against the governing body to cover medical bills and other losses sustained in the crash.
Filing a Crash Lawsuit Against a City or County Government in Tennessee
Drivers of city, county, and state vehicles are protected under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA). The Act allows the governmental entity to be held liable instead of its negligent driver, as long as the driver was an employee of the city or county and was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the crash.
Unfortunately, the GTLA places a number of restrictions on these cases, including:
- Per victim recovery limits. The law limits the amount of compensation for bodily injury or death of any one person in an accident at $300,000.
- Per accident recovery limits. The Act places a total per accident cap of $700,000 for city and county defendants, and a cap of $1,000,000 for accidents caused by state employees.
- Loss of punitive damages. Since the amount that can be recovered in these accidents is limited by law, any amount awarded for punitive damages do not have to be paid (unless the government entity has an insurance policy in place that could cover the additional amount).
- Statute of limitations. Most claims against governments must be brought within one year of the date of injury.
- Loss of jury trial. Most of these cases are decided by a judge rather than a trial by jury.
If you were struck by a municipal vehicle, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Among other things, we can determine whether the driver was a government employee or an outsourced driver—a difference that can have a major impact on your case. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Will my settlement cover the costs of a permanent brain injury?
Lawsuits involving traumatic brain injuries are often complicated because no two brain injuries are the same. Even after a victim’s condition has stabilized, the long-term conditions he or she may suffer can vary widely, and doctors may not be able to predict when (or if) these effects will improve. For this reason, it is vital that victims consult with a brain injury attorney to calculate their potential future expenses and costs of care before accepting a settlement.
Estimating the Long-Term Costs of a Brain Injury
The losses suffered by brain injury victims go far beyond the costs of medical care. Although patients typically require ongoing doctor’s appointments, rehabilitation, and therapy, they also lose control over their lives and are forced to forgo opportunities available to others. All of these losses should be considered carefully when negotiating compensation during a personal injury lawsuit.
Brain injury victims should receive enough compensation to pay for the full range of losses their injury has caused, including:
- Partial disability. Physical disabilities after a brain injury can range from vision and hearing problems to an inability to use the arms or legs. Many people are unable to earn a living after a head injury, and those who can work may not be able to return to the same job or type of work they did before the injury. Physical disabilities can also prevent victims from participating in activities they once enjoyed, such as traveling, exercising, or playing sports.
- Cognitive impairment. Brain injuries can cause memory impairment, difficulty concentrating, sudden confusion, slowed cognitive responses, or attention deficits that affect earning capacity as well as the ability to engage in pastimes or hobbies.
- Behavioral and emotional changes. Brain injuries can cause changes in a person’s behavior, while emotional suffering may result from the trauma of coping with life changes caused by the injury. Victims may experience mood swings, fatigue, sudden bursts of anger, or lost impulse control, which can significantly affect their relationships and quality of life.
- Inability to perform self-care. A severe brain injury may require in-home nursing care, breathing assistance, or hospice care, further impacting the resources of the victim’s family.
Severe brain injuries can affect every aspect of a victim’s life, and it will take experience and tenacity to ensure that victims are adequately compensated for their pain and suffering. Our Tennessee injury attorneys fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you need to recover—and we do not collect anything from you until after your case is won. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Who pays for my medical treatment after a pedestrian accident?
After you have been struck by a car while walking or cycling, you are unfortunately at the beginning of a long and arduous journey. The injuries sustained in these kinds of accidents may be extensive, and healthcare providers are going to want payment for your medical bills as quickly as possible. While you may win compensation for your medical bills and other damages in an injury lawsuit, it can take months before the matter is resolved—what should you do in the meantime?
Ways to Pay Medical Bills After a Pedestrian Accident
Tennessee subscribes to the “fault” system for car accident injuries, so the person who caused the accident is legally liable for paying for your medical bills and other losses related to the crash. This means you will file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and the insurance company should pay the hospital bill. However, this does not always go smoothly.
One of the biggest problems pedestrians encounter is that their injuries can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and may exceed the limit of insurance purchased by the driver. If the injury costs more than the maximum coverage limit, the victim will have to collect additional coverage through other sources.
Victims can seek additional payment for their injuries through:
- Their own health insurance. It is important that you see a doctor right away, both for your health and for the success of your injury claim. Don’t be afraid to pay bills using your own health insurance. These costs can always be recouped later when your claim is settled.
- Their own auto insurance. Tennessee law requires injury victims to exhaust the other driver’s car insurance coverage before collecting under their own. There is an exception for hit-and-run accidents, since the victim will likely be unable to make a claim with the at-fault driver if he or she is never located. If your car insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage, it may be used to cover your expenses for injuries even though you were not driving at the time of the accident.
- MedPay. Medical Payments coverage, or MedPay, is an optional form of insurance that is offered in addition to your own car insurance. It is up to each policyholder whether he or she will purchase MedPay, as well as the amount that will be provided after an accident. However, you must have it in advance of a collision in order to collect.
- Medicaid. If you don’t have health insurance and you do not own a car, you may qualify for medical coverage through Medicaid. This federal health insurance program that provides medical coverage to patients without employer-sponsored or private health insurance. If you qualify, Medicaid will pay your medical bills going forward, and could be used to pay some of your past bills. You can check the requirements and apply for coverage through Tennessee’s Medicaid program.
- A third party. There could be someone else whose negligence played a part in your accident. If you were struck by a drunk driver, you could have a case against the restaurant that over-served alcohol to the driver. If the car that struck you malfunctioned due to bad brakes or a stuck accelerator pedal, the auto manufacturer could be held liable. An attorney can investigate the accident on your behalf and tell you who can be named in your injury lawsuit.
A pedestrian accident is painful and debilitating enough without adding the financial consequences of the accident onto the victim. Our injury attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve after a crash, and we do not collect anything from you until after your case is won. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What are the most common causes of injuries on airplanes?
Aviation accidents can occur at any point between takeoff and landing, and not all injuries are the result of a crash. Even if the plane makes it from point A to point B safely, passengers and crew members can suffer a variety of painful and even life-altering injuries that can cause suffering for decades after the incident.
Common In-Flight Injuries Suffered on Airplanes
In-flight accidents are common on commercial airlines, but they also frequently occur on small aircrafts such as corporate jets, charter flights, or helicopters. Aviation laws give injury victims the right to file lawsuits against the airline, its employees, or even the manufacturer of a defective component of the aircraft for the effects of a serious injury.
The most common causes of aviation injuries during a flight include:
- Turbulence. Turbulence plays a role in the majority of injuries sustained while an aircraft is in flight. Even small changes in altitude can cause the plane to shake or drop suddenly, and the unpredictable nature of turbulence can lead to passengers hitting their heads against windows, tripping or falling on the way to the restroom, or even being thrown from their seats into the hard surfaces of the cabin. Turbulence injuries may range from scrapes or bruises to twisted ankles and broken bones.
- Luggage. Luggage falling from overhead baggage compartments causes thousands of injuries every year, a number of which may increase as airlines continue to charge for each piece of checked luggage. Overhead baggage compartments may suddenly spring open during flight as a result of turbulence, faulty latches, a cabin crew’s failure to store items safely, or merely as a result of overloading the compartment. Passengers seated underneath the compartment door may suffer broken noses, facial lacerations, or collarbone injuries when struck by carry-on items, while those struck by heavy luggage may suffer concussions or skull fractures that lead to traumatic brain injuries. A severe blow to the head may require extensive treatment, cause memory loss and irreversible personality changes, and prevent the victim from returning to his or her normal life.
- Adverse medical events. If a passenger or crew member suffers a heart attack, stroke, or other medical emergency during a flight, the pilot should make every effort to provide lifesaving treatment—including landing the plane before the final destination. The pilot should communicate any in-flight medical emergencies to ground staff—and if the crew does not have adequate equipment or medical staff on board, the pilot should be able to divert the plane. Airlines may be held liable for the mishandling of a medical emergency even if the airline did not cause the original event.
- Food service. Food services may be necessary on long flights, but they can also carry injury risks. A food or drink cart that has not been properly secured may roll forward, striking the arms or legs of passengers who are seated on the aisle. Spoiled or uncooked meals may cause passengers to suffer food poisoning, while the presence of nuts or other allergens can lead to adverse reactions and anaphylactic shock. Finally, a failure to provide food in a timely manner can cause passengers with diabetes to experience low blood sugar or insulin shock, leading to a diabetic coma.
Commercial airlines may not be able to guarantee the safety of their passengers, but they do have a heightened duty of care while transporting passengers. A commercial carrier can be held responsible for any injuries caused by the negligence of its employees and pilots, or if its standard operating procedures unnecessarily place passengers at risk.
If you were injured while traveling by plane, we can conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for your suffering—and we do not collect any legal fees unless we secure you the compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to set up your no-cost injury consultation, or learn more about your rights in our free guide, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What should I do if I was hurt on vacation in Tennessee?
If you are injured in a car accident, slip and fall, or other injury while on vacation in Tennessee, your reaction may be to cut your trip short and return home as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the first 24 hours after an accident are the most vital to your injury claim, and failing to perform certain actions can come back to haunt you when seeking compensation.
What to Do If You Are Injured on a Trip to Tennessee
Whether you came to see a show at the Grand Ole Opry, hike the Smoky Mountains, or just needed a weekend getaway from winter weather, it is vital that you take steps to protect your injury claim before you get on a plane. If you are hurt on vacation, it is important that you do the following before returning home:
- Seek medical treatment. It can be embarrassing to suffer an accident, and it is understandable that victims would want to wave away emergency responders in order to avoid unwanted attention. However, undergoing a medical examination is the most important thing you can do for both your health and your injury case. Not only will emergency care identify any potentially life-threatening injuries, it creates a medical record of your injury immediately after the accident occurred. Go to the emergency room—or at least a walk-in clinic—before you return home, and be sure to note any prior medical conditions or injuries on your intake questionnaire.
- Gather evidence. Evidence begins to disappear in the days after an accident, and by the time you return home it may be gone forever. The best way to gather evidence is to take pictures of the scene of your injury, or record a video of the location and the people who were there before leaving the scene. Pictures of your injury, weather conditions, and any damaged property (such as a smashed rental car) can also help to identify the cause and severity of the accident. Write down the names and contact information of anyone who saw what happened or came to help you afterward. If police came to the scene, be sure to request a copy of the police report to take home with you.
- Be careful when talking to those responsible. The person or company responsible for your injury may attempt to contact you after the accident, hoping you will say or do something that limits your ability to recover payment. Insurers may call and ask for a recorded statement to process your claim, while a manager of a store may ask you to sign the injury report after you fall. Do not agree to these requests without speaking to an attorney. In many cases, asking for your signature or your recorded interview is a way to gather evidence against you.
- Speak to a Tennessee personal injury attorney. Waiting to find an attorney until after you have returned home can be catastrophic to your case for many reasons. First, Tennessee has an extremely short statute of limitations (SOL) to file a personal injury claim, so you should begin your case as soon as possible. Second, many laws that apply in injury cases are state-specific, meaning the laws back home will have no bearing on your case in Tennessee. Finally, a local lawyer will have an insider’s knowledge of many locations, including dangerous freeways or busy intersections, and have a network of local professionals who can be called to testify in your case.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations. In most cases, victims will be able to return home after they have been cleared by a doctor. However, you will need to notify your regular physician of your injuries and make an appointment to continue all necessary treatment related to the injury. Even if your condition is stable enough to travel, you should continue to attend all scheduled appointments until your injury has fully healed. You can also keep a diary during your recovery, making note of how your injuries affect your daily life, your mental state, your ability to work, and any comments made by your doctors.
An injury on vacation can not only ruin your trip, it has the potential to ruin your health and your financial future. Our injury attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Do I need an attorney if a driver hit me while I was riding my bike?
Bicyclists are far more exposed in a collision than the drivers of passenger vehicles, and are much more likely to be injured in a collision. That said, bike riders do not always need a lawyer to get payment after a crash. If the incident was minor and did not cause any lasting damage, the biker may be able to get proper compensation from his insurance company without the aid of an attorney. However, if your injuries were severe enough that you took an ambulance to the hospital, underwent extensive treatment, or were unable to return to work for at least a week, you should seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as you are able.
Reasons to Hire a Lawyer After You Are Hurt in a Bicycle Accident
For many victims, the question isn’t whether to hire an attorney, but at what point they should seek an attorney’s advice. Some may wait and see if the insurer will make an offer that will cover their costs, while others are simply too injured and overwhelmed by the aftermath of a crash to take on the additional burden of finding a legal representative. Unfortunately, it is often beneficial to hire a lawyer sooner rather than later—and those who hire a lawyer too late may risk their right to injury compensation.
Hiring an injury attorney early offers many benefits to your case, including:
- Collecting viable evidence. Evidence in an accident case can be lost or destroyed in the days and weeks following the crash. The longer the delay in conducting an investigation, the greater the chance that vital evidence will be lost. Your attorney can track down witnesses, find any accident footage, get a copy of the police report, and take photos of the scene to corroborate your story.
- Proving negligence. Even if you were the only one hurt in a crash, you will still need to prove negligence in an injury case to get compensation. Many victims who are coping with broken bones or traumatic brain injuries do not have the time, energy, or legal knowledge to build an effective case. An injury attorney knows what must be done to prove negligence, and can hire accident reconstructionists or expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.
- Preventing mistakes that can hurt your case. Victims often make mistakes early in the process that can prevent them from collecting payment. An attorney can stop victims from giving a recorded statement to an insurer or signing documents or medical records authorizations that can give the other party an unfair advantage.
- A strong negotiating position. Insurance adjusters have years of training in devaluing claims and getting victims to agree to low settlements. Victims who attempt to “go it alone” may share too much with the adjuster, accept a settlement before the injury has fully healed, or fail to calculate the full amount of their losses. An attorney who has bicycle accident experience will be able to make an accurate estimate of your losses and can take an offer to an insurer without succumbing to the company’s manipulative tactics.
- Expediting your case. There are many deadlines that must be met throughout an injury claim, including notifying your insurance company of a crash, filing documents, and bringing a case before the statute of limitations expires. Your attorney will not only ensure that deadlines are met, but will also address any delays (such as getting copies of your injury records from medical facilities and completing court paperwork) to get you the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible.
At GriffithLaw, we handle the details of your case while you focus on your recovery. Our legal team can begin an immediate investigation of the facts surrounding your accident and advise you on your next steps—and we do not collect any payment from you until your case is won.
Whether we are able to secure you a settlement or your case proceeds to trial, our bicycle accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
How should I prepare for my first meeting with an injury attorney?
Your first meeting with an attorney may seem daunting, but the truth is that you have just taken the first step towards putting your accident behind you. The right personal injury attorney can help you get the payment you need for your medical bills, missed wages, property damage, and other losses so that you can move forward with your life. With a little planning, you can leave the attorney’s office feeling stronger than you have in a long time.
How to Prepare for an Initial Consultation with an Injury Attorney
It can be stressful to meet with a stranger, especially when you aren’t feeling your best. Try to remember that he or she only wants to help you, and that you are in control of the meeting. In a free consultation, anything you say is protected by attorney-client privilege—even if you ultimately choose not to hire the lawyer—so there is very little risk for you and a great opportunity to learn more about your options.
The key to overcoming all the fear and confusion you may be feeling is to be properly prepared for your first appointment. When you meet with the attorney, you should be sure to bring:
- A written account of the accident. If you have not already done so, you should write down everything you can remember about the accident. Your memory of what happened can be invaluable to an attorney when building your case, as it will give him or her many leads to follow. For example, if you distinctly remember two employees arguing about who was to blame when you slipped in a grocery store, their words can be used as evidence that the store owner knew that a dangerous condition existed. Your account of the accident should include the date and time of the injury, the place where the accident occurred, the people who were there, what you were doing right before the accident, what you did afterward, how others responded to the accident, a description of the scene, and any other details you can remember.
- Evidence. If you collected any evidence that you think could be useful, be sure to bring it with you. Pictures of the accident scene, an incident report or police report, names and contact information of witnesses, and emails or correspondence from the at-fault party can be invaluable in proving negligence in your case.
- Documentation of your injuries. The amount you can receive in an accident case is based on the severity of your injuries, but it will take extensive proof to get full compensation for all you have suffered. Keep a file with copies of all medical records related to the accident, such as x-rays, treatment records, follow-up care, diagnostic test results, prescriptions, and invoices. The paperwork should be in order from your emergency treatment and initial diagnosis to and your current medical condition. You should also bring paystubs from the time of the injury and any correspondence from an employer about your time away from work.
- Your insurance information. You should bring a copy of your available insurance policies (such as health insurance and car insurance) as well as any letters or notifications you have received from your insurer or the other party’s insurance company.
- A list of questions. Your attorney will likely ask you questions to get a sense of your case, but you should come prepared with a few of your own. Don’t be afraid of asking silly questions; you don’t have the same experience the attorney does, and he or she should be gracious when listening to your concerns. You may ask whether you need an attorney, how long it will take to resolve the case, and how likely it is that you can resolve the case out of court—and even if the attorney cannot provide a definitive answer, he or she should tell you what you need to do next for the best outcome.
Your consultation is a chance for you to see whether you and the lawyer want to work together—and if you do not, you should lose no more than an hour of your time. To set up your free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney, simply fill out the short contact form on this page. To learn more about your case, request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What is the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act?
A major airline disaster can be harrowing for the family members of the victims. Families may endure constant exposure to crash footage on the news, deal with reporters and life insurance companies, all while waiting to hear any news of the survivors. In order to treat victims and their relatives with respect, the federal government created the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 to provide support services to the families of victims of commercial airplane accidents.
Benefits and Rights of Relatives After a Major Airplane Crash
It can take some time to determine what caused an airplane to crash, and representatives of several agencies may conduct investigations into the accident. The federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is legally bound to investigate commercial aircraft disasters, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may also be involved in examining the crash site.
During this time, the airline and the NTSB have certain duties to the relatives of crash victims under the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act, including:
- Communication. The NTSB must designate an independent, nonprofit organization to coordinate information services for the victims' families and the disaster survivors. This may include communicating with foreign governments, performing translation services for family members, and providing a daily briefing for families on the status of the investigation.
- Safe space. Families have a right to their time to grieve without being contacted by members of the press, insurance companies, representatives of the airline, and other parties. Surviving victims and the families of those who died are protected from solicitation while at the crash location or staying in a hotel near the site.
- Identification services. If remains have been found, families should not have to go through the disturbing process of identifying a loved one’s body. The NTSB must appoint a qualified third party to perform forensic services necessary to establish the victim’s identification and inform relatives of the death of family members in a timely fashion.
- Grief counseling. Licensed therapists should be on hand after a disaster to provide mental health and counseling services for families, including professionals to help relatives arrange a memorial service.
- Airline procedures and responsibilities. The Act specifically places a variety of responsibilities on the airline whose craft was involved in the crash. Firstly, the airline must make a list of all passengers on the downed flight and inform the passengers’ next of kin before the list is made public. Airlines have a duty to help family members retrieve dental records, X-rays, and other methods of identifying the victims, and provide travel to the crash site as well as room and board for families who wish to come to the location of the accident. Finally, the commercial airline must create a toll-free telephone number for families of victims to get updated survivor information, learn what steps the airline is taking after the crash, and how to contact the airline about a memorial service.
- Protection from unsolicited attorneys. In the 1990s, Congress added a provision in the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act to prevent attorneys from seeking out families of crash survivors while they were in mourning or attending memorial services. As a result, lawyers and their agents are prohibited from unsolicited communications with crash survivors and relatives of victims until at least 45 days after the crash.
Our law firm takes the right to grieve very seriously, and will never harass or even approach victims who have suffered the sudden loss of a loved one. We know that when the time is right, we can be counted upon to perform an in-depth investigation of a charter plane, helicopter, or commercial airline crash. Our experienced team of aviation attorneys and investigators can secure internal documents, preserve the wreckage, determine liability, and protect the family’s rights during negotiations with insurance providers and airline representatives.
No matter who is responsible for the crash, we will do everything we can to secure you the compensation you need to move on from the tragedy—and we do not collect any legal fees unless we win your case. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to set up your no-cost injury consultation, or learn more about your rights in our free guide, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
When should I settle my car accident case?
In Tennessee, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance pays for any lost income and medical costs arising from an accident, and insurers may offer a fast settlement in order to close the case quickly. However, it is important for victims to realize that they will give up their rights to any additional claims stemming from the same accident once they accept a settlement, so they should weigh their options carefully before agreeing to a deal.
Factors to Consider Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement
If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, it is likely that the insurance company responsible for covering your crash costs will offer you a settlement to resolve your case. Insurers and injury victims can negotiate settlement amounts throughout the claims process and even during a trial, and the vast majority of cases will be settled before ever proceeding to court. It may even be to your advantage to settle, as it allows you to end the dispute without taking the risk of losing at trial.
That said, before you accept or refuse a settlement offer, you should take into account:
- Whether your injuries are likely to improve. You should never accept a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries. An initial settlement may be offered just a few weeks after the crash, and it may be months before you know whether you will be able to return to work or live with permanent limitations. If you feel that an insurance company is rushing you to accept an offer, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
- The sum total of your accident costs. The amount of losses in an accident can quickly spiral into the thousands, especially if the victim has been unable to work. Victims will need to gather many different documents to calculate the amount of lost time from work, lost bonuses and sick days, property damage, hospital and outpatient appointments, mileage to medical appointments, rehabilitation, psychological treatment, and out-of-pocket costs.
- The amount of your future losses. Your injuries may require ongoing medical care, affect your future health, and severely hinder your ability to earn a living. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for victims to estimate the amount of potential financial losses, and they will need to consult with an attorney to properly value their cases.
- Your pain and suffering. Juries have the ability to award pain and suffering (called non-economic damages) of tens of thousands of dollars for emotional, physical, and psychiatric distress caused by the accident. However, most insurers will not offer an amount to cover pain and suffering unless they think the victim has a good chance of winning at trial.
- The strength of your case. Insurers’ offers are based not just on the sum total of your losses, but on the likelihood each side has of winning at trial. If the at-fault driver was intoxicated, has a poor driving record, or has a history of negligent driving, the insurer may be more likely to settle because the jury may side with the victim. Similarly, if your medical records show extensive injuries or permanent disability, the jury may be more willing to award higher pain and suffering damages.
- What your goals are. It is important to determine what the best outcome would be, as well as the minimum amount you would be willing to accept. Some victims may be concerned with their ability to support their families after an injury, while others are looking for closure after losing a loved one in the crash. Settlements often give victims more control over the terms in the outcome of their case, such as requiring a formal apology or other non-monetary compensation.
If an insurance company has offered you a settlement, we can evaluate whether the amount will meet your needs and gather the necessary documents to enter into negotiation. Whether we are able to secure you a settlement or your case proceeds to trial, our experienced car accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.