The days following a car accident can be overwhelming. You’re in pain, you can’t work, you can’t take care of your family, and you’re worried about paying your bills. If you are seriously injured, you will also need to take steps to protect your rights in the event that you need to make a claim.
Knoxville car accident attorney John Barnes understands the challenges you are facing. He fights for the rights of people injured in car accidents so that they can get the compensation they need to put their lives back together. If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, give us a call at 865-805-5703 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Seek Medical Attention
The most important thing to do after an accident is to listen to your body. It’s not unusual to feel “fine” immediately after the accident – the rush of adrenaline mutes the sensation of pain in your body. In addition, some injuries may not manifest themselves right away. Even though you weren’t in pain immediately after the accident, the symptoms you experience later on may indicate that you have suffered a serious injury. Don’t risk your health by ignoring them – go see your doctor.
If you went to the hospital directly from the scene of the accident, you may be tempted to skip this step. Even if you’ve already received medical treatment, don’t be afraid to follow-up if your symptoms are not improving or you are experiencing new symptoms. Do not delay if you need to consult with a specialist for your injuries.
Lastly, be sure to follow your doctor’s orders. Failing to follow your doctor’s orders not only impedes a proper recovery, but also could jeopardize your claim if you need to make one later on.
Document Your Claim
If you have to pursue a claim for your injuries, you will have to prove that you are entitled to compensation. To prove your claim, you will need to submit the appropriate documentation.
Aside from getting the necessary medical treatment, visiting your doctor serves a very important purpose: your medical records will be the foundation of your claim. As a result, you want to be sure your medical records reflect the following:
- The specifics of your injuries and their extent
- That your injuries were caused by the car accident
- Any permanent or temporary limitations caused by your injuries
- The recommended treatment and timeline for recovery
Of course, you need to be sure to keep copies of these records. Keep them organized and in a safe place.
You will also need to document other aspects of your claim. Keep copies or otherwise document the following:
- All medical expenses, especially any uncovered expenses such as co-pays
- Lost wages
- Damage to your vehicle
- Any expenses related to your accident such as braces, crutches, or modifications to your home
- Pain and suffering
The last item, pain and suffering, can be the most difficult to document – there are no receipts that record a specific value. Instead, keep notes of how you are feeling, whether you are having difficulty sleeping, and how your injuries are affecting your day-to-day life.
Dealing with the Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are for-profit corporations that are primarily focused on being profitable. As a result, they are looking to limit the amount they pay out in every claim they handle. Keep that in mind when speaking with insurance representatives.
You may be surprised at how quickly they offer to settle your claim, perhaps even before you’re considering a claim. Keep in mind that if you accept their offer, you will be required to sign an agreement releasing them from any future claims and further liability. This means that you will not be able to pursue a claim if you discover additional injuries or your injuries are more serious than you thought.
The other thing you should bear in mind is that insurance companies will try to use your own statements as a basis for either denying your claim or refusing to pay what your claim is worth. Here are some suggestions to follow when you are speaking with insurance representatives:
- Do not discuss your theories on who was at fault. Limit your comments to the basic facts surrounding the accident.
- Do not admit any fault in the accident, even if you think you may have been partially to blame.
- Do not discuss too many details concerning injuries. Limit your comments to whether you are currently seeking treatment and that you do not yet know the full extent of your injuries.
Get Statements from Your Witnesses
Getting statements from your witnesses can be very helpful in making a successful claim. Witness statements can be very compelling in making a successful claim because witnesses are considered to be neutral observers of what happened. A good witness statement can confirm important facts that establish liability.
Not only are witness statements important, but it’s also important to get them to provide their statements as soon as possible. Their recollections can become hazy, or they move away and become difficult to contact. Ideally, your witnesses will provide their statements in writing. We understand that this is a hassle, and can create delays. If they don’t want to provide a written statement, ask them to record their statement on their smartphone or let you record their statement.
Know the Statute of Limitations
In legal jargon, the statute of limitations is the deadline by which you must file your lawsuit or you lose your right to file a claim. Tennessee has a one-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. That means that you must file your lawsuit within one year of your car accident or you will be unable to make a claim.
You may have no plans to file a lawsuit or may think you won’t need to because you are in discussions with your insurance company. However, you may need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company denies your claim or will only pay a low-ball settlement amount.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Knoxville Car Accident Attorney
The best thing you can do to protect your rights is to contact an experienced car accident lawyer. The personal injury lawyers of Barnes Law will work with you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected and you get the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured and don’t know what to do, call us at 865-805-5703 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.