What should I do following a car accident?
- First and foremost, get seen and examined by a health care professional as soon as possible. If you don’t, the insurance company is sure to argue that not seeking prompt medical attention is proof that you weren’t actually hurt.
- On the scene, cooperate fully with the police officers who arrive. Help them get the best factual information possible about your accident. Report facts about speed, distance, and the impact; but be careful not to venture into opinion when it comes to fault on your part. Under no circumstances should you admit fault or apologize.
- Document the names and contact information for anyone you believe was a witness to the accident. While the responding officers should do this as well, it never hurts to have the information yourself.
- Use your smartphone to take pictures of your vehicle, other involved vehicles, and anything else that may be important; in particular, skid marks, weather conditions, and nearby road signs. Err on the side of over inclusion. One of your photos may end up catching an important piece of evidence that will be cleared or moved within hours.
What should I not do following a car accident?
- Do not apologize to anyone, and do not make any statements indicating fault. It’s a natural human reaction to express regret over an accident; even if you were blameless. But in this one circumstance, what otherwise might be considered polite small talk can have major legal ramifications.
- Do not sign anything from an insurance company until after you speak with an experienced attorney. Insurance companies exist to generate a profit of premiums in excess of paid claims. A major part of that equation is paying out as little in claims as possible. Early settlement offers are almost always too low. The adjuster hopes you’ll settle your case before you know the full extent of your damages and before you speak to an experienced attorney.
- Do not give a recorded statement to anyone from an insurance company before you retain an attorney. Those statements are obtained by insurance adjusters in the hope that you say something that will be later argued as minimizing your claims.
What damages are recoverable in an automobile accident cases?
Tennessee law categorizes the types of damages available to individuals who have been injured in a car or truck accident. Every case is unique, but most car accident cases will include one or more of the following categories of damages:
- Medical Expenses – This category consists of your bills and expenses arising out of treatment for injuries incurred in the wreck.
- Lost Income / Lost Earning Capacity – Tennessee law allows injured plaintiffs to recover their lost income and earning capacity not only for time they were previously out of work, but also for any future periods of time where it’s reasonably certain they will remain out of work due to injuries.
- Property Damage – The most obvious and prevalent type of damages in car accident cases. You’ve been in a wreck and your vehicle has been damaged. In most cases you’re entitled not only to the cost of repairs, but also to the loss in value of your vehicle.
- Physical Pain and Suffering – These damages serve to compensate you for the physical pain and suffering incurred as a result of the wreck, both past and future. Burns, paralysis, ongoing back pain, and migraines are just a few examples of injuries that support a claim for physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional Pain and Suffering – This category of damages serves to compensate you for the emotional toll the consequences of a car wreck can take. It is particularly relevant in cases where there’s been death or disfigurement.
- Loss of Consortium – This category of damages compensates the spouse or family members of the person who has been injured or killed.
To calculate your own damages by category, please visit our Recovery Calculator.
Why do I need an attorney?
Most people who are injured in an automobile or truck accident have never retained a lawyer before. Studies, including many commissioned by the insurance industry itself, show that victims of motor vehicle accidents who are represented by counsel receive significantly more money than those who “go it alone.” Additionally, in cases where indicated, an experienced attorney can draw on resources such as investigators, accident reconstruction experts, and medical experts that the average driver can’t. Where fault is contested and major damages are in play, failing to retain counsel can cost you and your family big.