We Answer Your Questions About The Legal Issues In A Motor Vehicle Accident
We address these frequently asked questions as a starter for those who are considering legal action after a car wreck, a motorcycle accident or a collision with a commercial truck. But every case is unique, and you may need an attorney’s help to recover compensation from the at-fault parties.
To discuss your specific situation, the personal injury law firm of Hawkins Bingham & Miller PC extends a free consultation. Call our Kingsport office at 423-398-6841 to arrange a time to talk without our highly experienced attorney.
Do I need a lawyer after a car wreck?
You are not required to hire a lawyer. But when an auto accident results in serious injuries, people who have legal representation generally fare much better than those who don’t. Insurance companies are more likely to deny or undercut claims if the person does not have a lawyer. The greater the injuries, as with a truck accident or motorcycle collision, the more valuable it is to have an attorney.
How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?
Not a penny upfront. The initial consultation is free and personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee. This means that you do not pay attorney fees unless they recover compensation for you. Most law firms take the same percentage, so you should seek out an experienced attorney who is better equipped to maximize your compensation.
Do I have to sue the other driver? Will I have to go to court?
Sometimes a claim can be settled by submitting an insurance claim. But in many cases, a formal lawsuit is filed with the court to preserve your rights and make the claim official. The vast majority of cases are eventually settled out of court, but any case could go to trial. That is why it’s important to hire a proven litigator.
What compensation can I get in an auto accident? Are there caps in Tennessee?
You can be compensated for economic damages – medical bills, future medical care, lost wages and loss of projected earnings. You can also seek compensation for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, disfigurement and loss of enjoyment of life. Tennessee law does not limit economic damages, but does cap noneconomic damages at $750,000 for most injuries, or $1 million for catastrophic injuries.
What if I was partly at fault for my accident?
This is a common scenario. For example, one driver was speeding or distracted but the other driver ran a stop sign. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence (the relative fault of each driver), you could still recover compensation. Tennessee uses a 49% rule. If you are deemed to be 49% or less at fault for the crash, you can be compensated. If you are found to be 50% or more at fault, you are barred from recovering compensation. Never assume that you were solely or mostly at fault. Talk to an attorney to discover where you stand.
What should I say to the insurance adjuster?
You are likely to be contacted by the other driver’s insurance company in the days after a car wreck. Any information you provide could be used to deny or downplay your compensation. Do not discuss fault, give a recorded statement or sign any waivers without the advice of a lawyer. You must, however, report the accident to your own insurer. Give the facts, but don’t volunteer more than necessary.
What if the other driver did not have car insurance?
This is unfortunately a common scenario. For that reason, you probably have a fallback under your own auto insurance policy. This is called uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist or UM/UIM. If the other driver does not have the state-mandated insurance – or if their minimum policy does not cover your losses – your insurance pays the difference. You may need a good lawyer to make your insurer honor the policy. If you do not have UM/UIM on your policy or if you only purchased a low coverage, you might not be able to recover full damages.
More Questions? That’s What We’re Here For.
Schedule your free initial consultation to discus your accident with board-certified trial lawyer David Miller. Call 423-398-6841 or use the online form. We handle car, truck, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents in the Tri-Cities area and throughout Tennessee.