After you have been in an auto accident, especially one where you have sustained injuries (whether they were immediately apparent or not), there’s a lot of commotion. You need to call the insurance company, get a copy of the accident report from the police, rent a car while you figure out what to do with the wreck . . . the list goes on and on. Somewhere in that time period, you have to deal with your injury and the recovery process, too – a process that can take far longer than you might expect, depending on the severity of your injuries.
But how do car accident claims work in Tennessee? If you have sustained an injury in an auto accident, and the other driver was at fault, often a claims adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company will open a case file on the accident. This claims adjuster knows that the insurance company would be liable for damages including any and all of your medical bills (hospital stays, rehabilitation, medications, adaptive technologies like wheelchair ramps, etc.), as well as the damage to your car and your lost wages (and loss of future earning potential, if applicable). Further, an accident victim can also make a claim for your pain and suffering, or for any permanent disfigurement you sustain.
Because the insurance company does not want to pay for these things, they will launch an investigation of their own into what happened. They’ll review the police report, your medical records, any photographs taken of or at the scene, and any testimony given to police by witnesses. However, in some cases the insurance company will try to settle with you quickly, hoping that you take an amount well below the value of the accident.
How car accident settlements work
Usually the insurance adjuster will settle property damage fairly quickly, as they do not want to be on the hook for extended car rentals. You can settle the property damage without settling the rest of the case, usually referred to in insurance terms as a “bodily injury” claim. Once the insurance adjuster has reviewed all of the paperwork and evidence regarding your injury, he or she will likely offer you a settlement – a set amount of money that the insurer determines you are owed, based on your injuries and medical bills. This is the first step in what could potentially be a long, drawn-out process.
The insurance company, of course, would prefer to settle your claim for the least amount of money possible. Many times, adjusters offer car accident victims significantly less than what their claim is worth. In order to obtain a more just and fair settlement offer, you will likely need the help of an injury attorney, who knows how to properly counter the insurer’s offer with a more realistic one.
Do you need a lawyer even if you want to settle your case?
Statistically, most car accident cases end up settling – which leads to people asking why they even need an attorney if they’re just going to settle. Insurance adjusters, however, are trained to minimize payment on claims in order to raise the profitability of the insurance company. In order to maximize your recovery, you need a lawyer who prepares every case like it’s going to trial.
Our Sevierville auto accident attorneys prepare all of our cases as if we were planning on going to trial, in order to maximize our client’s potential settlement. Because of our reputation, many times insurance adjusters and opposing counsel will come to the table with a much more fair and just offer from the start. So even if you do not want to go to trial, you still want attorneys like us on your side. If the insurance company won’t budge, and refuses to offer you a fair car accident settlement, then we are already prepared to go to court if that’s what it takes to obtain justice for you.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, the Delius & McKenzie, PLLC is here to help. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our Sevierville car accident lawyers by calling 865.280.3686 or by filling out our contact form. We proudly serve clients in and around Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.