If you were in a car accident, you may benefit from a lawyer’s help even if you were not at fault. Tennessee is a fault state. This means that the person who caused the accident is responsible for the injuries caused as a result and they may be liable for damages.
If I was not at fault, why do I need a lawyer?
The driver who was at fault might deny having caused the accident. His insurance company will have a financial motive to make it as difficult as possible for you to succeed on your claim. In fact, his insurance company may try to make it look as if you were actually the one at fault.
If this occurs, your lawyer can take action against the insurance company for a bad faith refusal to pay a valid claim. Your attorney will protect you from these tactics and work hard to get you all the compensation you deserve.
Does it matter if I was partly at fault in the accident?
In most accidents, more than one person is at fault. Tennessee uses a legal method called modified comparative fault to apportion damages when more than one person is at fault in an accident.
Under the modified comparative fault rule, you can only recover damages after an accident if you were less than 50% at fault. That means if you bear 50% or more of the blame, you are not eligible to receive any damages. If you are 49% or less at fault, your compensation is reduced based on your role in causing the accident.
For example, Linda and Ellen are both claiming damages of $10,000 after a car accident. Linda was 25% at fault for talking on her cell phone while driving. Ellen was 75% at fault for running a red light and crashing into Linda.
In this case, Linda would receive $7,500 for her damages, because her own negligence would reduce her damages by 25%. Ellen would receive nothing for her damages because she was more than 50% at fault for the accident.
What if my damages are more than the other driver’s insurance coverage?
If your damages are greater than the amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, your lawyer can pursue other ways of getting you the amount of compensation you deserve. This can include going after the personal assets of the person who injured you.
Sometimes your own insurance can help pay some of your damages that are in excess of the other driver’s insurance. If you have medical payments coverage on your insurance, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, or uninsured or underinsured coverage, your own insurance might be able to help with your damages.
How will a car accident lawyer help my case?
Your attorney will collect documentation to prove your case, such as the police report and witnesses’ statements. He will also document your financial damages using medical records and employment records.
Using this information, your lawyer can evaluate your claim and advise you on a fair settlement amount. If you do not have a lawyer advising you on this, you might accept an offer that is far lower than what you need to recover from your injuries.
Having a lawyer involved can also keep you from settling before you know the full extent of your injuries. Many people who handle their own accident claims make the mistake of accepting an early settlement offer from the insurance company before they have completely recuperated from their injuries. They find out too late that they are going to have long-term problems from their injuries and that their initial settlement is not enough to cover them.
Your lawyer will also make sure you are not signing away more rights than you should during the settlement process. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers who write their settlement documents to protect themselves, not claimants like you.
Your car accident lawyer will also deal directly with the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf, working hard to get you everything you’re entitled to.
Your lawyer can deal with your own insurance company as well, if they are wrongfully denying payments under your policy.
If you win a large sum of money from your accident case, you can ask your lawyer to recommend financial professionals to help you with issues like taxes and financial planning. You do not have this advantage if you are trying to handle your case on your own.
What kinds of damages are available after a car accident?
There are two types of compensatory damages after a car accident: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that are easily measured in monetary amounts, such as medical costs, lost wages, and property damage. To measure these damages, your lawyer can use documentation like medical bills, your employment records, and repair or appraisal records. A vocational expert can also establish disability and loss of earning potential.
Non-economic damages are not as easy to quantify, even though they are real and valid damages. Pain and suffering, disfigurement, and loss of consortium are examples of non-economic losses that can result from a car accident. Your attorney will determine the appropriate amount of money you should expect to receive for these damages.
How can I hire a lawyer for a car accident that was not my fault?
If you suffered an injury in a car accident in Tennessee and it was not your fault, you may have a claim for your damages. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC will evaluate and handle your claim with expertise and compassion. Call us today at 865-546-1111 for your free, no-obligation consultation. We never charge a fee unless you get compensation.