If you live or work in Chattanooga, you are probably aware of how frequently car accidents occur. Traffic backups caused by crashes are not uncommon, especially in some of the more accident-prone areas such as through the Ridge Cut, on Bonny Oaks Drive, and on Gunbarrel Road near Hamilton Place. Sitting in the traffic after an accident is bad enough, but when you suffer injuries in a crash there is much more to worry about.
In some cases, victims of car accidents can file a claim and recover compensation to pay their medical bills, lost wages, and more. If you need help getting the money you deserve after another driver causes your crash, we can help. The Chattanooga car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC offer free case evaluations and can help you understand your legal options. Call us today at 865-546-1111 to make an appointment.
When can I file a claim for compensation?
There are a number of instances in which you may be eligible for compensation for your damages. If the other driver received a citation for the accident, if the police listed him at-fault, or if you can prove he acted carelessly and this caused the crash, you may be able to recover compensation.
All car accident claims hinge on proving negligence. When another party—usually another driver—acts negligently, he becomes legally responsible for your injuries. To establish the other driver was negligent and is liable for your damages, you must prove five points:
- He had a duty to behave a certain way, such as to obey traffic laws;
- He failed to uphold this duty;
- This caused your car crash;
- He should have predicted the harm he would cause through his actions; and
- You suffered physical, emotional, or financial losses in the accident.
When one of our car accident attorneys analyzes your case, we can determine if there is enough evidence to prove negligence. If there is, we can collect this evidence and file for compensation on your behalf.
Do I have to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for my car accident injuries?
In most cases, there is no reason you need to file a lawsuit or appear in court to receive compensation for your injuries. Often, we can file a third-party liability claim with the liable driver’s insurance company. Based on the case we build to support your claim, we can usually negotiate a fair settlement without having to resort to a lawsuit. However, if the insurance company refuses to settle, we can file a lawsuit to recover the money you need.
It is important we act quickly, though. Tennessee law gives you only one year from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit if your case involves medical bills or other injury-related damages. You have three years to recover money after an accident that caused only property damage. If the at-fault party worked for a government agency or drove a government vehicle, you have even less time to file your claim. For this reason, you should call us as soon as possible after a crash.
How can I prove the other driver caused the accident?
Before we file your claim for compensation, we collect all the evidence necessary to prove your case. This includes a variety of documents showing the other driver caused the crash, the nature and severity of your injuries, and proof of your losses.
One of the most important pieces of evidence is often the accident report. Tennessee law requires you to report almost any injury or property damage after a crash, so you should contact the police after any accident. The police file an accident report indicating how the accident occurred and often determining fault. You can get a copy of this report from the police or obtain a copy online.
The accident report is more helpful in some cases than in others. We are sometimes able to contradict the police report with witness statements, pictures from the scene, and other evidence if the report does not support your claim.
Other evidence we collect to support your claim often includes:
- Medical bills;
- Medical records;
- Repair estimates for your car;
- Documents proving lost wages; and
- Receipts and other proof of money spent.
In our experience, we see many car accident victims who overlook valuable evidence that could prove their case. Let us review your case and help you manage the claims process.
What types of damages can I recover with a liability insurance claim?
We can help you calculate the full value of your losses to ensure you receive a fair settlement that compensates you for your damages. These damages include current losses, such as the cost of medical treatment you already received, rehabilitation and therapy-related expenses, repairing or replacing your car, and lost wages. They also include future expenses, such as ongoing care costs or a lowered earning capacity due to a disability.
You can also recover money for your noneconomic losses. Sometimes called “pain and suffering,” these are psychological damages that can have a huge impact on your qualify of life. To support recovery of these damages, you may want to keep a journal indicating your pain levels, activities you cannot participate in, and your emotional responses to your injuries.
What if I am partially at-fault for my car accident?
Tennessee follows a modified comparative negligence rule that could reduce how much you can recover if you contributed to your own accident injuries. However, as long as you are less than 50% at-fault, you can still collect compensation for your injuries.
Imagine you suffered injuries in a rear-end crash on Highway 58 in Chattanooga. The other car failed to stop and hit you, causing head and neck injuries. Because you were not wearing a seatbelt, the insurance company may claim you played a role in causing your own injuries. If this case goes to court and the jury decides you are 10% at-fault, you can only recover up to 90% of the damages due to you. If your total damages reach $10,000, you can only recover $9,000 in this scenario.
How can I reach a Chattanooga, TN car accident lawyer?
If you need legal advice about your car accident claim in Chattanooga, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC are here to help. Call us today at 865-546-1111 to set up a time to discuss your case with one of our skilled attorneys.