Avoiding Mistakes in Your Car Accident Claim
Sustaining injuries in a motor vehicle crash caused by a negligent driver is a shocking experience. Not only do you feel the physical pain, but it can be emotionally distressing as well. When physically injured and emotionally distressed, it can be confusing for victims to sort out what to do next — and without a clear head, anything you say or do after a motor vehicle crash can have a negative impact on your claim.
Here are the do’s and don’ts you need to know.
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The Do’s of Car Accident Claims
The first step after a car crash is to seek medical care immediately. Even if you think you are feeling fine or walked away from an accident “without a scratch,” some injuries may not show up for days or weeks after the crash. For example, an untreated mild concussion without symptoms can lead to long-term complications, or a spinal cord injury that just feels like back pain could indicate permanent damage.
After a car accident, it’s critical to do the following:
- Take pictures of the accident scene – Photos of the accident scene can be used as evidence in your claim. Take photographs of the damage to the car and anything in the surrounding area, such as stop signs, traffic lights, etc. If you cannot take photos, ask for help from witnesses or other passengers in your car that can assist you.
- Get contact information of witnesses – If there were witnesses to your crash, gather their names and contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible – Don’t wait to contact your insurance company. Report the incident as quickly as possible.
- Keep all medical records and documentation of the accident. If you were taken to the hospital or received treatment for injuries from any other medical professional, be sure to keep all documentation. This can help prove the severity of your injuries. Save diagnostic reports, x-ray findings, doctor’s notes, etc.
- Contact a car accident lawyer – After a motor vehicle crash, medical bills, lost time from work, and other expenses can take a financial toll on you and your family. To ensure your rights are protected in receiving the maximum compensation you deserve, having a lawyer help you fight the insurance companies is critical to the outcome of your claim.
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The don’ts of Car Accident Claims
Insurance companies are not your friend and will look for minor mistakes to deny your claim. Your claim must be filed correctly, on time, and with no errors. Here are some of the most common missteps people make in car accident claims.
- Don’t admit fault for the accident – Tennesee is an at-fault state, which means the person who is found responsible for the accident is legally and financially accountable for damages and injuries that resulted from the crash. If you aren’t at fault for the crash, saying things like, I’m sorry, or I didn’t see you can be used against you and cost you compensation.
- Don’t negotiate compensation directly with the person who caused the accident. While it may be tempting to get cash on the spot and leave the insurance companies out of it, in most cases, not reporting a car accident is illegal in Tennesee, and you can risk driver’s license suspension and other consequences. Negotiating a direct settlement can mean leaving most of your compensation on the table. It’s best to report the accident and hire a lawyer to protect your rights and help you file your claim.
- Don’t miss the deadline for filing a car accident claim – In Tennesee, you have one year from the date of your motor vehicle crash to file a lawsuit and protect your rights. Missing this crucial deadline means that you are forever barred from filing a car accident claim for this particular incident.
- Don’t sign ANYTHING without speaking to your attorney first – While you may be asked to sign papers, it’s critical to present them to your attorney first before putting your signature on the dotted line. Waivers or releases should be reviewed by your attorney first.
- Don’t accept immediate settlements from your insurance company – Insurance companies are in the business to make money — not pay out the highest compensation for your injuries and other losses from your car accident. Never accept an immediate settlement from your insurance provider. Speak to your lawyer first to learn if you are getting fair compensation.
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Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC
After a devastating crash, not knowing where to turn for help can be a stressful experience. Not only must you focus on healing from your injuries, but worrying about medical bills and other costs for treatment and therapies can be financially taxing on you and your family. Let Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC help you get through a difficult time. Managing PartnerMike Montesi has been practicing law since 1978 and, for decades, has helped Memphis residents seek justice and recover compensation for their injuries caused by negligent drivers. If you or a loved one need legal representation after being harmed in a motor vehicle crash, we are here for you.