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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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.
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.
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.
If I was hurt on vacation in Nashville, do I have to remain here until the incident is settled?
If you suffered an injury as a tourist, you may be tempted to cut your trip short in order to seek medical attention back home. While it may seem like a good idea to go back to your own doctors and pursue an injury case in your home town, leaving the area where you have been injured can cause complications—especially if you live outside of Tennessee.
What Vacation Injury Victims Should Do Before Returning Home
The most important thing you should do after suffering an accident on vacation is to seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Not only will this ensure that it is safe for you to travel without further risk to your health, it documents the state you were in immediately after the accident occurred. This is vital for making an insurance claim or filing an injury lawsuit, as failure to seek medical treatment may be seen as evidence that injuries were not as severe as you claim.
The next thing you should do before returning home is speak with a local injury attorney. Injury laws vary from state to state, and a local attorney will know the applicable procedures and requirements for a slip and fall, car accident, or other injury in Tennessee.
Even if you are not sure you have a case, a local attorney can provide insight and guidance on your next steps, including:
- Notification. Timeliness is an important factor in an injury case, and a local attorney can ensure that you take necessary steps to report the incident as soon as possible. This may include filing a police report, notifying a property owner about a dangerous condition, or making sure the incident has been properly documented before you leave town.
- Investigation. A Nashville attorney will have a familiarity and understanding of the location where you were injured, as well as relationships with local accident scene investigators and credible expert witnesses. The sooner you speak with a local attorney, the more likely it is that he or she will be able to collect and preserve vital evidence, such as pictures of the accident location, contact information for witnesses and property owners, and copies of your emergency treatment records.
- Insurance claims. A local attorney can determine whose insurance policy should cover your injuries, as well as how to file the claim and deal with an insurance agent. An attorney can even deal with the insurer on your behalf, negotiating a fair settlement without the risk of the victim accidentally saying something that devalues the claim.
- Filing suit. If your case cannot be resolved without filling a lawsuit, you can take comfort in the fact that your attorney is licensed to practice law in the city where the accident took place—and as an added bonus, a local attorney will be familiar with the Tennessee court system.
- Recovery. Once you have a local attorney working on your claim, he or she can advise you of the best time to go home without risking the outcome of your case. An attorney will be able to tell you how your actions may be perceived by insurers, allowing you to avoid resistance to your claim. Your attorney should provide you with clear instructions on what your responsibilities are—such as following up on your medical treatment, taking time off work, and staying off social media—allowing you to protect your case after you have returned to your home state.
Injury victims can often return to their home states while their Nashville attorneys go to work, keeping the victim updated on the progression of the case. At GriffithLaw, we are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, 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.
If I was injured while on vacation in Nashville, should I wait until I'm back home to hire an attorney?
If you suffer an injury in your hometown, you can take comfort in the fact that you have familiar faces nearby to help—including your own doctors, family, and friends. However, if you are involved in an accident while visiting Nashville on vacation, you may have to rely on strangers for your medical treatment, car repairs, and even advice on what to do next. The best way to learn about your compensation options—and ensure that negligent parties do not take advantage of you—is to seek the advice of an attorney before you leave Tennessee.
Waiting Until You Return Home to Hire an Attorney May Cause Problems
Whether you already have an attorney in your hometown or are planning to look one up when your vacation is over, you should try to meet with a lawyer who practices in the area where the accident occurred. Seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible offers many benefits, including:
- Knowledge of Tennessee injury laws. Most injury laws vary from state to state, and the rules of your home state may not apply in your accident case. Some common mistakes made by out-of-state attorneys include not knowing the applicable statute of limitations for your type of injury or an unfamiliarity with Tennessee’s comparative fault laws.
- Medical and specialist recommendations. As injury cases rely on medical evidence gathered in the hours and days after an accident occurs, victims should seek medical attention before returning home. Your attorney may be able to recommend a local doctor who can evaluate and document your injuries in a timely manner, or may be able to refer you to a specialist after you are released from the emergency room.
- Context for your type of accident. A local injury lawyer will have access to small details that can have a big impact on your case. For example, if you suffered a car accident at a particularly dangerous intersection, the local attorney is more likely to know if this intersection has seen similar accidents and whether a third party (such as a construction crew or landscaping company) may be liable for the crash. Your attorney should also know how much accident cases in the city or county are typically worth, and use commonalities with similar cases to negotiate your settlement.
- Proper jurisdiction. Even if a lawyer back home can advise you on your case, he or she may not be able to file the case in Tennessee court. Attorneys can only file a lawsuit in court if they are licensed to practice law in that state—and in most cases, injuries that occur in Tennessee will be processed through the Tennessee court system.
- Familiarity with state courts and procedures. A local lawyer should understand the state laws applicable in your case, and he or she is likely to have experience with the Tennessee court system. In addition, a Tennessee injury attorney will know which professionals in the area are qualified to perform investigations and offer testimony on your case, such as local accident reconstructionists and medical experts.
- Preserving evidence. Evidence disappears with each passing day after an accident, and it may be impossible to recover once you are back home. A local attorney can photograph or record a video of the accident scene, take note of any defects on the premises or roadway, note damage to vehicles or personal property, document the weather conditions, and obtain contact information for the at-fault party and witnesses.
- Preventing you from making mistakes. Many victims are eager to resolve their cases as quickly as possible so they can return home. Unfortunately, this may lead them to give recorded statements to the insurance company, fail to obtain a copy of the police report, or make additional mistakes that can devalue their claims.
If you have suffered a car accident, truck crash, slip and fall, or other injury while on vacation in Nashville, we are here to help. The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, 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 is a free consultation and how does it work?
People who have been in an accident are often at a significant financial and physical disadvantage, and have no idea what their legal rights are after an injury. In order to give victims a convenient and low-risk way to get specific and relevant information they can use, many personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will offer a free initial consultation, particularly if they take injury cases on a contingency-fee basis.
What Can I Expect During a Free Consultation?
Before an attorney and client can get started on a case, they will need to have a face-to-face meeting to see if they can work together. The attorney will sit down with the prospective client, listen to the client’s story, and offer some initial thoughts and suggestions about the case. A free consultation will usually last an hour, and the prospective client will not be billed for the lawyer’s time.
During your free consultation, you should be able to determine:
- Whether you have a valid claim. The attorney should be able to tell you if you have a case from a legal standpoint, taking state negligence laws and statutes of limitations into consideration.
- Whether you need a lawyer’s help. A good attorney will tell you whether you need a legal representative for your case, or whether you may be able to resolve the case on your own.
- Whether this particular attorney can help you. The best attorney for your case is one who has experience winning your specific type of injury case. If the attorney does not handle your type of accident case, he or she may refer you to someone who does.
- What you should do next. At the end of the consultation, you may sign an agreement for the lawyer to take the case, decide that you do not want to hire the lawyer, or the lawyer may decide that he or she cannot help you.
How Can I Prepare for My Initial Consultation With an Attorney?
The best way to prepare for an initial meeting with an attorney is to bring all documents that could be relevant to your case. This can include medical records, communications between you and an insurance company, wage loss statements, and photos of your injuries and the accident scene. The less time it takes for the lawyer to understand your case, the more time you will have to discuss potential solutions.
In order to get the most out of your free consultation, you should:
- Be honest. An attorney cannot help you if you do not tell him the truth, even if that may include embarrassing or sensitive information. Any contact you have with an attorney is private, so you should answer any questions the lawyer puts to you honestly.
- Make the most of your time. Attorneys have a time limit on their consultations (usually 30 to 60 minutes), so you will want to stay focused to get the best and most relevant information. It may feel good to express your frustration, but sticking to the facts will be more beneficial to your case.
- Listen closely. Lawyers give advice from a legal and professional standpoint, and your best options may not be what you were hoping for. Remember that the attorney is working for your best interests, but can only do what he can considering the facts of the case.
- Ask questions. A lawyer may wish to proceed with your case in a specific way, use acronyms you do not understand, or take one approach over another. If you do not understand something, do not hesitate to clarify details with the attorney.
- Take notes. It helps to write down any notes, such as outlining the different legal procedures, noting how long the case may take to resolve or what your responsibilities are while your case is pending.
- Determine the attorney’s fee. A lawyer should tell you at the first meeting how much he or she charges, as well as what court and filing costs you are expected to cover. If the attorney charges a contingency fee, the percentage of the recovery used to pay legal fees should be spelled out in the fee agreement.
The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, 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 is res ipsa loquitur, and how does it affect my accident case?
Res ipsa loquitur, a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself,” applies to accident cases where negligence is assumed based on the way the injury occurred. Much like negligence per se, this legal doctrine makes it easier to prove that a defendant was responsible for a victim’s suffering.
In a typical accident case, injury victims are required to prove four elements of negligence: the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, the defendant breached the duty of care, the injury was a direct result of the breach, and the victim suffered as a result of the injury. However, if res ipsa loquitur applies, breach of duty of care is assumed and the victim only needs to prove the tenets of the law regarding his injury.
When Res Ipsa Loquitur May Apply to an Injury Case
Res ipsa loquitur is only applied to cases where the injury that occurred could only have been caused by negligence. It is often used in medical malpractice cases, since patients often have little control what happens to them when they are hospitalized, undergoing surgery, or are following a doctor’s recommended course of treatment. For example, there is an express duty of care between a surgeon and a patient—and if the surgeon operates on the wrong body part, he has breached the duty of care.
Res ipsa loquitur may apply to a case if both of the following are true:
- The type of accident that occurred is usually a result of negligence. There are many ways accidents can occur, and res ipsa loquitur relies on the specific manner in which the injury occurred—in other words, whether the defendant could have avoided causing injury by exercising more care. If the injury was inevitable (such as a severe infection in a patient that could not have been prevented), res ipsa loquitur may be defeated.
- The defendant had sole control over the conditions that led to injury. Res ipsa loquitur may not apply if the victim shared some responsibility for the injury. For example, a victim on a cell phone may be distracted at the moment he or she is struck by a driver making an illegal turn. In these cases, the court may reduce the amount of a victim’s damages under the law of comparative negligence.
The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw can examine the negligence laws that apply to your case and advise you of your next steps at no cost to you. Our injury attorneys provide initial consultations free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, 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 much will it cost to hire an injury attorney?
There are several ways attorneys in Tennessee can bill for their time. Some lawyers charge by the hour, while others will quote a fixed fee for their services. However, injury attorneys will usually work on a contingency basis, a fee arrangement that allows personal injury victims to bring a lawsuit without having to pay for costs up front.
Factors That Determine How Much an Injury Attorney May Charge
Most injury victims do not have the funds to pay an hourly attorney or finance the cost of a lawsuit. In a contingency arrangement, the attorney will only collect his fee if the client gets a settlement or is awarded damages. If the case is successful, the lawyer will receive a percentage of the client’s recovery, giving the attorney an incentive to secure as much as possible for the client.
The amount an injury attorney may charge in a contingency fee arrangement will depend on:
- Contingency percentages. The percentage an attorney may charge in contingency fees varies by state. In Tennessee, contingency fees are capped at one third (33 1/3%) of the total recovery. When a lawyer is retained, he and the client will agree on the percentage before representation and case work begins.
- Filing and court costs. The attorney’s fee is only one of several costs that may be deducted from the settlement. The filing of a lawsuit can involve filing fees, serving summonses and subpoenas, hiring court reporters for depositions, mailing and copying, and other court costs. If the attorney pays for these costs up front, he must be reimbursed for them after the case is won.
- Expenses and fees. Attorneys will need to be reimbursed for any expenses they assumed on behalf of the client to investigate the case, such as obtaining medical records or hiring expert witnesses. Preparing a case for litigation may further increase expenses, making the case more costly if it proceeds to trial.
If your injury has caused significant losses and has affected your ability to earn a living, it may be worth the cost to hire a lawyer. The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw can tell you whether or not you will need an attorney for your claim at no cost to you—and if you choose to hire us, we will not collect any payment unless we are able to recover for you. 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, to learn more.
Can I change lawyers in the middle of my personal injury case?
If you did not hire the right lawyer for your injury case, you are fully within your rights to look for new representation. The amount you will receive in your case—or whether you win or lose—depends significantly on the actions and competence of your attorney. That said, you should carefully consider the reasons you are unhappy with your lawyer before making the change to a different one.
Reasons to Consider Changing Lawyers in a Personal Injury Case
No matter which lawyer you choose, he or she will always be bound by the facts in your case and the laws of the state. If your case is taking longer than expected or your initial settlement offer is lower than expected, this is not necessarily your attorney’s fault. However, your attorney’s actions toward you (or lack of them) are a valid reason for you to change lawyers in the middle of your case.
A good attorney will:
- Make you a priority. Lawyers often work on multiple cases at a time, but that is not a good reason to treat your case as if it is not important. A lawyer who lets phone calls and emails go unreturned or frequently cancels appointments is not invested in your case. If your lawyer forgets your name, the details of your case, or the last action he took to serve you, it may be time to seek other representation.
- Answer all of your questions. With so much riding on the outcome of their case, few clients are content to let everything happen “behind the scenes.” Your attorney should answer all of your questions to your satisfaction, including explaining why he or she is taking certain actions to resolve the case.
- Be qualified to handle your case. You may really like the attorney who drafted your will, but that doesn’t mean he is qualified to handle your accident case. If your attorney has not handled your kind of case before, he or she should be willing to refer you to someone with more experience in that area.
- Respect your decisions. Your attorney is the legal advisor, but you have the final say on what advice you take. Your attorney should listen to all of your requests, including whether or not to accept a settlement.
- Keep you updated. Some cases may take longer than others, but it is your attorney’s duty to keep you advised of the status of the case. Make it clear that you want regular progress updates in addition to an alert whenever an important change is made, and consider it a red flag if these notices taper off.
- Act responsibly and ethically. An attorney who engages in unethical behavior, such as encouraging you to lie about the facts of your case or destroy evidence, should be exchanged for another representative immediately.
How to Handle the Change to a New Attorney
It is best to sign another attorney for your case before notifying the former lawyer that you are leaving. This is not only because your new attorney will handle most aspects of the switch for you, but also because he or she can make sure your case is progressing during the transition. It will also save you the headache of being turned down by attorneys who do not want to take cases that another lawyer has been working on.
When you have chosen your new attorney, making the change involves a few steps:
- Determining the cost of switching. Since most personal injury lawyers are paid from the settlement you receive, your first attorney will not get anything if you switch. Your new attorney should examine your contract with the former attorney to see if there are any fees you will have to pay when you terminate the agreement.
- Signing a retainer agreement. Just as you did with your former attorney, you will have to sign a form to give your new lawyer permission to represent you.
- Sending a stop work letter. Your new attorney must send a "stop work" letter to your former attorney, which requests that he stop working on your case and forward the case file to your new attorney.
- Signing a consent form. Your new attorney will prepare a form for you to sign, called a Consent to Change Attorney, to notify the court and all parties in your case that you have switched attorneys. If your case is already undergoing court proceedings, your attorney will also need to provide notice of withdrawal or substitution of counsel.
If you are unsatisfied with your current attorney, our Tennessee personal injury lawyers can advise you on whether making a switch is the right thing to do for your case. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation, or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What can I expect during car accident mediation with an insurer?
Mediation is a common method used to settle personal injury disputes. It allows people from both sides of the claim to make a case to a neutral third party, who listens and makes a recommendation on the settlement. If both sides agree, the claim can be settled without the need to go to court. If the parties do not agree to a solution in mediation, the case will go to court and the solution will be decided in a personal injury trial.
A Typical Overview of Car Accident Mediation Sessions
Mediation is not mandatory, but is a voluntary process that can help your case reach a settlement more quickly and less expensively. It is often most beneficial to parties who agree on the basic need for the claim, but are in disagreement about the exact amounts that should be paid. If negotiations with an insurer in your injury claim have reached a stalemate, mediation can allow you to show the extent of your losses, giving the insurer an opportunity to raise the amount without being forced to by a judge. We answer some common questions here:
- What will happen? Although every mediation is different, the sessions often take the same basic structure: each party will present his case to the mediator (in the presence of the other party), and each party will get to speak alone with the mediator. Some mediators allow parties to talk directly to each other, with the mediator facilitating the exchange. The mediator uses all of the information gathered to find the ways in which the parties are likely to compromise. There are no rules on the ways that facts may be presented, and nothing either party says during mediation may be used in court or further negotiations after mediation is complete.
- Who pays for it? The costs of mediation are typically divided evenly between the two parties, since neither will argue that they are owed more in negotiation as a result.
- Who is the mediator? Practically anyone can serve as an independent mediator, but the best mediators are those with legal knowledge, such as lawyers or former claims adjusters. It is important to remember that a person hired as a mediator is not an advocate for either party, and should remain unbiased throughout the dispute.
- What are the benefits? Many people opt for mediation because it is much faster, allowing claims to be resolved in a matter of hours instead of weeks or months. It is also typically less expensive and less stressful than going to trial. It also allows a claimant and a claims adjuster to sit in the same room, humanizing a matter that would otherwise just be a set of documents or a file number for the adjuster. These sessions are more informal than a trial, and offer participants direct control over the outcome. Finally, mediation sessions are private and the information presented is confidential, which may not be possible in a trial.
- What are the drawbacks? Mediation may only take a few days to complete, but mediators often charge by the hour, making their services unfairly expensive for injury victims (unlike insurers, who have unlimited funds at their disposal). It may also be difficult to get insurers to agree to mediation, and even harder to get an insurance agent to make a personal appearance at every mediation session.
Insurers have a dedicated team of lawyers to fight and defeat injury claims, and having your own attorney by your side is the best way to protect your right to receive a fair financial award. If you suffered an injury that makes it impossible for you to live your life, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At GriffithLaw, we can listen to your concerns and tell you what your next steps should be in your free evaluation of your case. Contact our skilled legal team today or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.