When involved in a car accident, one of the top priorities you should address—after seeking medical attention, of course—is securing a dependable and knowledgeable car accident lawyer. For accidents that occur in your home state, you should look for a reliable local attorney. However, what if your collision occurred while visiting a neighboring state? Should you still look to your local attorney for guidance?
When it comes to an out-of-state resident suffering a car accident in Tennessee, the answer is a resounding, “No!”
Not Knowing TN Laws Can Jeopardize Your Claim
It may come as no surprise to you that laws vary depending on your location. Regulations in one state may not apply once you cross into a neighboring state. Car accident laws are no different and can vary significantly depending on where the collision occurred. As a result of these variations, a local car accident attorney may be well-versed in your state’s laws, but completely ignorant of the legal procedures of Tennessee law.
When tourists retain attorneys from their home state to represent them in Tennessee fault cases, they risk those lawyers making the following common mistakes:
- Waiting too long to file the claim. Tennessee has one of the shortest statutes of limitations for car accident claims of any state—one year from the date of the collision. A lawyer unfamiliar with this irregularity could postpone filing to gather more and more evidence, not realizing that he has surpassed the deadline. Once the 365 days have elapsed, it doesn’t matter who was at fault, how severe your injuries are, or how sorry your attorney may be, your claim cannot be settled.
- Settling only a portion of the claim. In Tennessee, collision cases have two areas of insurance under which to pursue compensation— a liability policy from the person who caused the accident and a personal under-insured motorist policy. Many states allow victims of collisions to pursue these areas separately. However, in Tennessee, a collision claim must include all intentions for compensation. An out-of-state attorney unfamiliar with this rule may recommend filing for the liability compensation first, and once that claim is settled, pursue the personal insurance claim. Unfortunately, if the first claim is settled and a release has been signed absolving the insurance company from further liability, a secondary claim can’t be pursued. In Tennessee, if a claimant signs a release for an insurance claim, another claim cannot be filed for the same accident.
- Failing to secure a competent trial lawyer to your claim. If your claim goes to trial, your attorney must either appear in Tennessee court or appoint another attorney to litigate in his place. However, if the trial attorney is unfamiliar with the different state laws, common laws, local rules, or judge’s quirks, he can seriously misinterpret and ruin your case.
So, if you live outside of Tennessee but were injured while on vacation in Nashville in a car accident, what should you do? You should look within the border for an experienced attorney who is well-educated in not only any state law, but Tennessee-specific collision laws.
If you’re planning a trip to the “Volunteer State,” don’t risk getting caught without the legal guidance you need. We sincerely hope that you won’t need collision guidance while you’re here, but we want to make sure you’re protected if you do. Call us toll free at 877-959-8847.