Injured victims involved in car accidents often have many questions about potential claims.
Q. When I am involved in an accident, what is the first thing I should do to protect my interests?
A. Assuming that law enforcement officials have investigated the accident, the first action on your part should be to tend to your injuries and receive prompt medical attention. After that, you should contact an attorney.
Q. Do I need to contact my insurance company?
A. Yes, contact your insurance company and report the accident as soon as practical. Most insurance policies contain a clause, which provides that, unless the accident is reported within a specified time, the policy of insurance will not apply. You should not, however, contact the other party's insurance company; your attorney will do that.
Q. Should I call my insurance company even if the accident was not my fault?
A. Yes. The other party may be uninsured or underinsured, and you may have to look to your own policy in order to be adequately compensated. Once again, the reporting provision of your policy will require reporting of the claim within a reasonable period of time (never more than thirty days) or the policy will not apply.
Q. Should I contact an attorney or attempt to negotiate with the insurance company?
A. In any case involving personal injury or property damage, you should contact your attorney as soon as possible after receiving medical attention. This will allow your attorney to promptly begin investigation of your claim (a) before evidence (such as skid marks or debris on the roadway) is lost or destroyed, (b) while witnesses still have a vivid recollection of events, and (c) while photographic evidence may still be obtained to preserve the facts. You can rest assured that the other party's insurance company knows the value of an early investigation and will have begun investigating the claim immediately. It is common sense for you to have the same advantage.
Q. If the other party's insurance company calls me, should I give them a statement?
A. Absolutely not! The other party's insurance company may use what you say against you. The person taking the statement has been trained and paid to protect their insurance company's interest, not yours. Even your own company may use a statement, given by you, against you at a later date, should the other party be uninsured or underinsured.
Q. How long does it usually take to obtain a settlement or judgment?
A. The claim for personal injuries will not be settled or tried until you have recovered from your injuries or have reached maximum medical improvement in the event your injury leaves you with a permanent impairment.
Q. After an accident, how much time do I have to file a claim?
A. Generally, in Tennessee, you have one (1) year from the date of the accident to file a claim for personal injury and three (3) years to file a claim for property damage. This may vary, however, in the event of injury to a minor child (under age 18) or where the case may be against a governmental agency. You should never delay in contacting your attorney.
Q. Are there other parties who may be responsible for my injuries besides the driver of the other car?
A. Yes. If there were some defective or unreasonably dangerous features of your auto or the other auto that caused the accident, then you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer of the vehicle. This is called a products liability claim. Car accidents are also sometimes caused by dangerous roadways and the government responsible for designing or maintaining the road may also be liable.
If you need more information about a personal injury, Social Security Disability/SSI, EEOICPA, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website.