What should I do after a car accident? Do I need to hire a lawyer? Maximize the value of your insurance claim or lawsuit by doing these simple tasks after your car crash

Immediately after a car accident there are simple things that you can do to strengthen your insurance claim and potential lawsuit. You have one (1) year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in the state of Tennessee. If you were involved in a car accident in East Tennessee, including but not limited to Knoxville, Blount County, Anderson County, Loudoun County, Sevier County, the lawyers at Barnes Law Firm can help you maximize the compensation for your injuries that were caused by the other driver’s negligence and wrongdoing. 

Below is a simple checklist to follow after an accident that will help our lawyers increase the amount of money you may get in a settlement: 

  1. Call 911: The first thing that you should do is call 911. The police will talk to all of the drivers involved and come to a determination on how the accident occurred. Although the officer’s determination of fault is not necessarily conclusive in determining fault, it is usually the first set of facts that an insurance adjuster will look at when evaluating a claim. 
  2. Do not admit fault: Even if you believe that the accident was your fault, do not admit fault to the other driver involved in the accident. Your case may be a disputed fault case where the other driver believes that he or she is at fault for the accident as well. If that is the case, Tennessee law allows you to recover from the other party as long as you are less than 51% at fault for the accident. With that said, any statements regarding fault that you make to the other driver may be admissible in court and used against you to aid the jury in determining fault. Thus, it is important to never admit fault and collect all of the evidence from the scene of the accident before determining that you are at fault. 
  3. Take pictures:
    1. The accident scene: it is always beneficial to take pictures of your car crash immediately after the accident. It is best to take too many pictures rather than too little. Take pictures of the vehicles involved in the car crash from as many angles as possible before moving the vehicles. This will help show the insurance company and potentially a jury exactly where your automobile was hit and the damage that was caused by the collision. This will help show the insurance company your side of the story of what happened, what caused your accident and the severity of the accident. Take pictures of any skid marks that you see directly surrounding the accident. Take pictures of the street. 
    2. Vehicle damage: Take pictures of the damage to all cars involved in the accident. Many times, insurance adjusters attempt to claim that the damage was not significant based on property damage bills but the pictures that you take may be able to dispute such claims in addition to your lawyer’s legal argument for why it is irrelevant. 
    3. Injuries: Take pictures of all of your injuries from the accident and continue to take pictures to show the progression of your injuries over time. 
  4. Seek any and all necessary medical attention: If you suffered injuries as a result of the car wreck you should seek all necessary medical treatment. Whether you are taken to the ER in an ambulance or you go on your own, it is important that you get medical treatment for your injuries. It is imperative that you do not wait a few weeks to see how you are feeling before getting evaluated. Seek medical attention immediately and follow the recommendations of your physician regarding any further necessary treatment. Insurance companies attempt to avoid paying the settlement that our clients deserve when our clients have large gaps in treatment by alleging that the injuries must have been caused by something else. 
    1. Although our lawyers have potential legal arguments and other potential arguments based on your specific circumstances to dispute the insurance company’s claims, it strengthens your claim to both the insurance company and a potential jury to show them that you were consistently listening to the advice of your physicians and diligent in seeking the treatment that you needed. A jury may be convinced that your lack of treatment for an extended period of time demonstrates that you did not need subsequent treatment that you may receive. 
  5. Open and honest communications with your physician: The reason that open and honest communication is so important is because insurance companies will not consider most of the information that is not included in your medical reports when determining what offer to make you. 
    1. If you claim that you were responsible for cooking for your family and you can no longer do that, the insurance company will only take that into account if you inform your doctor about your inability to cook now so that your doctor includes it in your medical report. 
    2. Of course, if you go to trial, you would be able to testify regarding your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and inability to complete domestic and household duties.
    3. On the other hand, when it comes to attempting to settle your case through your attorney sending a demand package to the insurance company, the insurance company usually does not take those damages into account when making you an offer when it is not in your medical reports. As such, you should be open with your doctor about all of the things that you have not been able to do that you were able to do before the accident, or that you enjoyed doing before the accident that you can no longer do. This includes categories such as work, education, loss of job security, loss of promotional prospects, reduced quality of work, hobbies, domestic duties and household duties. 
  6. Do not send documents or talk to the other driver’s insurance company: it is imperative that you do not send documents or talk to the other driver’s insurance company about the cause of the accident or your injuries. You will be required to give a recorded statement to your insurance company, but you should not give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. Your lawyer will be able to put a demand package together for the insurance company that includes all of the relevant information that the insurance adjuster needs in a manner that maximizes the amount that the insurance company is willing to pay you to settle your claim. If you send those documents yourself, the insurance company will talk to you about it and attempt to manipulate you into giving them the answers that they want to minimize your damages. Leave it up to your lawyer to handle this process for you. 
  7. Document your pain and suffering: We always recommend that you keep a journal or a document on your computer where you keep track of the ways your injuries have impacted your life. For example, if you were at the grocery store and were unable to finish your grocery list because of your severe back pain, document it. If you were unable to cook dinner for your family or fold your laundry, document it. 
    1. Then, next time you go to your doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor, tell them about all of the things that you documented that you were unable to do that week due to the pain from your injuries. 
    2. Documenting your pain and suffering will help you remember the difficulty that you had recovering from your injuries that you can review before a deposition or before trial to tell the jury exactly how badly your injuries impacted your life. It is also a way to show the insurance company how severe your injuries were that add value to your case. 
    3. Also, find pictures of you completing the activities that you can no longer do and provide them to our attorneys. For example, if you used to play soccer with your children but you cannot play anymore because of your back pain, provide us with any pictures you might have of you playing with your kids before the accident. We will utilize those pictures in our demand package and potentially at trial to show the jury who you were before the accident compared to the new you as a result of your injuries. 
  8. Hire a lawyer: 
    1. Do I need a lawyer: Always call lawyers to get their input on whether they feel you need a lawyer. Most lawyers will be up front and honest with you about whether they feel that there is value in your case and whether they believe they can increase the value of your claim. The answer usually depends on the severity of your injuries. If you were involved in an automobile accident and had some minor abrasions but were back to normal a week or two later or you have damage to your car, but you were not physically injured, you likely do not need a lawyer to recover your property damage. However, if you were injured, had multiple visits with doctors, physicians, physical therapists and/or chiropractors, it is imperative that you listen to the advice in number 6, do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company and hire a lawyer to represent your best interest and maximize the amount of money that your case is worth. 
    2. When is the right time to call an attorney: A few weeks after the accident when you are still in the process of receiving necessary medical treatment to treat your injuries it is time to consult with potential attorneys. Hiring a car accident lawyer will help maximize the amount of money that an insurance company will be willing to pay you to settle your claim. In attempting to negotiate with the insurance company on your own, the insurance company will attempt to pay you as little as possible. 
    3. How do lawyers increase the value of my case: The lawyers at Barnes Law have received training through seminars from some of the top lawyers in the United States and have negotiated with insurance companies and defense attorneys on countless cases. Our attorneys will put together an in-depth demand package that shows the insurance company exactly what your case would look like if you went to trial. Included in the demand package will be the facts of your case, the other party’s liability based on the facts and law, your damages based on your medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and pain and suffering based on your statements, your medical records from telling your physician about your injuries’ effects on your life and from written statements from your family, friends and work colleagues. 
      1. Our lawyers will advocate on your behalf and convince the insurance company that your case is worth more than they thought it was worth when they simply read the police report, talked to their insured and looked at the pictures that they took at the repair shop of your vehicle. Our lawyers will attempt to increase the value of your case by preparing your case for trial before ever sending a demand package to the insurance company so that the insurance company as an image of what the trial would look like. If the insurance company still does not offer you the money that you deserve, our lawyers will file a lawsuit on your behalf against the other driver and continue to advocate on your behalf until either a favorable settlement is reached or a verdict is rendered at trial. 

Call us today for a free consultation at (865) 805-5703 to discuss the cause of your car accident, the injuries you suffered and learn more about the process of filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, filing a lawsuit and what we can do to help you.