Car Accident Claim In Chattanooga
Getting into a car accident can be traumatic, and filing a personal injury claim afterward only adds to the stress. Although it can seem like you have no control over what happens after an accident, there are some steps you can take as you go through the claims process to protect your right to full compensation.
Report Your Accident to Law Enforcement
Under Tennessee car accident laws, you are required to report nearly every car accident to the police. While very minor accidents don’t require reporting, you must call the police if the crash resulted in death, injuries, or property damage exceeding more than $400. You can report the accident by either calling 911 or by calling the Chattanooga Police Department phone number at (423) 698-2525.
In addition, you must report some accidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This is the case when anyone was killed or injured in the accident, or when there was property damage greater than $1,000.
Collect Any Evidence at the Scene
Evidence has a way of disappearing quickly after an accident. To prevent this and preserve what you can, you should gather as much evidence as possible from the scene. The sooner you can do this after a crash, the better it is for any future claims.
Start by taking as many photos as you can at the accident scene. If you are injured, take pictures of the injury as it was before and after you sought any medical treatment. Also, take pictures of any property damage to any vehicle involved in the crash. Get photos of any markings on the road, such as skid marks, that could indicate how the accident happened.
If you’re able to, collect statements from any eyewitnesses, along with their names and contact information. These statements are very helpful in accident claims.
Seek Medical Care and Keep All Related Paperwork
As soon as you are able to, it’s important that you seek medical attention for any injuries. Even after a seemingly minor accident, it’s important to see a doctor, as some injuries can worsen if left untreated. For example, a concussion could take days to start showing symptoms. A doctor will know what to look for, give you a full examination, and recommend any necessary treatment.
It’s very important that you keep all paperwork related to your injuries. This means asking the doctor for a copy of the medical report and keeping all bills and receipts.
This documentation will show that you sought medical treatment right after the accident. It also proves the expenses you’ve had to pay as a result of your injuries.
Document Your Time Missed from Work
Don’t rely on your regular schedule to determine what days were missed from work. You may have forgotten that your schedule changed, or maybe your boss asked you to come in for an extra shift but you couldn’t due to your injuries. Keep a daily log of all the time you missed from work, and the wages you would have earned during that time. Also remember to include any other additional financial losses from work, including any tips you would have earned.
Document Your Vehicle Damage
You should take pictures of any noticeable damage to your vehicle at the scene of the accident. However, you may not realize all the damage that was caused during this chaotic and upsetting time. Perhaps when you got home, you realized the interior became crushed during the accident. Or you noticed that there was more damage done to the engine than you initially realized.
Taking your vehicle to a shop for a quote can help further document damage because it allows a professional to look it over. Just remember, do not let them fix your vehicle, as this could erase the evidence and actually hurt your claim. Only get a quote that outlines all the damage done to your vehicle.
Start a Journal of How Your Injuries Are Affecting You
After a car accident, it’s natural to think that you’ll never forget your injuries or the pain they caused. However, keeping a journal that details all of your injuries is especially helpful as you move forward with your auto accident injury claim.
Write down all of your injuries, and the extent of those injuries, in the journal during the days and weeks after a car accident. Take note of how you felt, the degree of pain the injuries caused, any special care they required, and how they kept you from performing everyday activities or hobbies you once loved.
Beware of What You Say to Insurance Companies
If someone else was at fault for the accident, you’ll likely be asked to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. Don’t do this on your own. Insurance companies are not your friend and will use anything you say against you later on.
Even a statement such as, “I never saw the other car coming,” is a natural response after an accident because they happen so quickly. The insurance company, though, will twist your words and use this as evidence that you weren’t paying attention to the road. Insurance companies also often ask you to provide a recorded statement, and you should always decline. You have no legal obligation to provide a recorded statement, and the chances are that it will only hurt you in the end.
Any time you need to speak to an insurance company, particularly one that is not your own, you should speak to a lawyer first. An attorney will advise on what to say, and what not to say, to an insurance company. In many cases, a car accident lawyer will also speak to the insurance company on your behalf. This can help with car accident settlement negotiations and protect your claim.
Talk to a Skilled Chattanooga Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
After a car accident, speak to a Chattanooga car accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will guide you through all the steps to take after a car accident and help you file a car accident insurance claim.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident that was the fault of someone else, contact the Chattanooga personal injury attorneys at The Davis Firm, LLC today for a free consultation. We know how to hold negligent parties liable for the injuries and damage they cause, and we know how to stand up to the insurance companies to protect your rights. Don’t try to deal with your injuries on your own. Let us stand up for you. Call us!