Steps to Take After a Tennessee Car Accident

After being involved in a car accident in Tennessee, a person should immediately contact a lawyer so that they can begin securing evidence. Witnesses forget things, and a person can only get a picture of the car once before it is fixed. Making sure that all the evidence is secured and in order can make or break a personal injury case, and a lawyer can only do that early on.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Tennessee and are seeking legal advice on the appropriate next steps to take, it is imperative to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in Tennessee can gather the necessary evidence and build a defense to help lessen or dismiss any potential penalties associated with the charge.

Common Car Accidents

Negligence cases are among the most common car accident scenarios in Tennessee. These often occur when somebody is not paying attention to the road or is driving too fast.

Talking on the phone or texting while driving are becoming increasingly common causes of car accidents in Tennessee.

Many car accidents are caused by drunk driving or driving under the influence. While they are not as common, product liability cases can result from faulty auto equipment, such as tires or seatbelts. While they often require different litigation strategies, an experienced personal injury attorney can assist a client with a wide range of injury claims.

Available Damages

In many negligence cases, the accident was truly an accident. There was no ill intent or criminal behavior, and the party who caused the accident simply failed to pay attention to the road or the speed limit.

Damages for these types of cases are usually limited to pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other economic damages. An experienced attorney can help an individual understand the steps they must take after their Tennessee car accident case to begin recovering such damages.

When a driver is texting, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they have broken the law and the state may find that their behavior was reckless. In these cases, the accident victim may also be awarded punitive damages by the court to punish that criminal or reckless behavior.

Handling the Claim

Throughout Tennessee, accident claims are mostly handled the same way across jurisdictions, but there are some exceptions. For example, Nashville has a special magistrate who is assigned to personal injury cases.

The magistrate’s job is to make sure that the case is moving along. They will issue deadlines to push lawyers and clients to move the case forward. Murfreesboro, Cookeville, Franklin, and other cities do not necessarily have these magistrates. Each court may have their own protocol for moving cases through the system. It is important for an individual to consult with an attorney to determine the appropriate next steps depending on their case and location.

Comparative Negligence

Tennessee is a comparative fault or comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that if the injured individual is found to be partially responsible for their own injuries, they may have their compensation reduced based on the percentage they were found responsible.

Comparative fault allows a jury or a judge to compare the liability or the cause of the accident between the parties and apply a proration of the recovery for the injured person.

For example, a jury may find a defendant is 100% at fault for the accident, and the plaintiff will get all the money that they are owed. If the judge believes the defendant is 80% at fault but the plaintiff could have acted to avoid the accident, they may apply comparative fault and the plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by 20%.

Factors to Consider

Tennessee has a one year statute of limitations on car accident cases. This means that the individual has one year to file a lawsuit after an accident. This may sound like a long time, but it moves quickly. Moving quickly is among the most important steps to take after a Tennessee car accident, to ensure that the statute of limitations does not run out.

When an individual is injured in a significant accident, they should involve an attorney immediately so that they can begin collecting evidence and guiding the client through the claims process.

If the injured person’s health insurance or car insurance pays any bills, they are entitled to receive that money back. If they later settle the case without paying them, they can come to collect that money later. A lawyer can help negotiate that down and ensure those amounts are included in the settlement.

Benefit of Immediate Legal Representation

It is not uncommon for injured accident victims to reach out to an attorney long after the accident has taken place, and much of the evidence is no longer available.

Following an accident, a person who has been injured should look for a personal injury attorney who works on a contingency basis and will not charge for services until money has been recovered. This should be the immediate first step after being involved in a car accident in Tennessee.

This way, an individual can get the immediate legal counsel they need and can have their case evaluated without worrying about fees. Once the attorney goes to work on the case, they can handle all communications with the insurance company, and ensure that the client meets all statutory deadlines.

Tennessee has a short statute of limitations for accident claims, so it is important to act quickly.

Contact a Lawyer

Technology has introduced many solutions that make it easier for clients to work with their attorneys. Personal injury lawyers can send contracts via email, and clients can sign them on their phone.

Some cases can be resolved with minimal face-to-face contact between the client and their attorney. Still, many people prefer to meet with their attorney in person, and get to know the staff at the law firm.

Collecting evidence, such as photographs, expert testimony, witness statements, and video, must be done early in the case. It is also wise for an accident victim to consult with an attorney before giving any kind of recorded statement to the insurance companies.

A person who has been injured in a car accident should look for an attorney who works on contingency and will not charge a fee until their client recovers money. That way the attorney can be involved from the beginning at no up-front cost.