How to File a Chattanooga Personal Injury Claim
When you suffer an injury like brain injury, spine injury or broken bones injury that is caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, the only way to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, and other losses may be to file a personal injury claim.
However, filing a Chattanooga personal injury claim is not a simple process, especially because the liable party’s insurance company will fight fiercely to keep from paying you. Claims that aren’t properly prepared or defended often result in low-balled (or even denied) settlements for the injured party.
As you think about your injuries and your legal options, we recommend reviewing the following information about how to file a personal injury claim in Tennessee:
Consulting with and Retaining an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Even if you feel you can keep your paperwork organized and negotiate with the insurance companies on your own, we strongly recommend scheduling a free consultation with a lawyer who is experienced in personal injury law. When hiring a Chattanooga personal injury attorney, take time to discuss:
- How much experience the attorney has in successfully handling cases like yours
- How much trial experience the attorney has in case your claim needs to go to court
- How often your attorney will be communicating with you throughout the process
- How the contingency fee works and how the attorney will get paid
Do not be afraid to ask for former client reviews, and take time during your free consultation to ask any questions you have about what to expect throughout the process.
Evaluating Insurance Coverage
One of the first steps in the Chattanooga personal injury claims process is identifying the liable parties and evaluating the insurance options available. This is very important because it is not typically individuals or businesses that pay personal injury settlements out of pocket, but their liability insurance providers. As such, it is critical that you identify the liability insurance policy of any party whose negligence you believe contributed to your harm, as well as the details of that insurance policy.
Most insurance policies are capped. Knowing this and knowing how much coverage may be available to you can have a significant effect on the outcome of your case.
Further, don’t forget about insurance coverage that may be available to you through your own insurance policies. Whether MedPay/PIP coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, collision or comprehensive coverage, or health insurance coverage, there is a strong likelihood that your own policies will offer some sort of compensation in addition to, or instead of, the policies held by the at-fault parties.
Investigating the Accident and Documenting Injuries
In order to file a personal injury claim that is successful, you will not only need to determine whose fault caused the accident (and be able to prove it), but you will also need to offer proof of the extent of damages that you’ve suffered. As such, investigating your accident, gathering evidence, and documenting your injuries is of the utmost importance.
Types of evidence that may have a significant bearing on your case include:
- Police reports
- Eyewitnesses’ testimonies
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Any existing video footage
- Black box/electronic control module data (in the event of a motor vehicle accident)
- Pictures of your injuries
- Medical bills
- Health records and doctors’ reports
In addition, our lawyers often recommend working with experts who can build and develop your claim for full and fair compensation. For example, the opinion of an accident reconstruction expert can help to determine fault and liability, and the opinion of a medical expert can be used to substantiate your degree of harm and losses.
Sending a Demand Letter
Following an investigation into the cause of your accident and the extent of damages you have suffered, your attorney will compose a demand letter. There are two very important elements involved in the demand letter:
- The liable party: Against whom will you be filing a claim and demanding damages?
- Extent of damages: What is your claim worth, and how much are you asking for?
Our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you to clarify both of the above elements. When we send your demand letter to the liable party’s insurer, it will clearly state the extent of your injuries, explain causation, and specifically ask for a compensation award (dollar amount) that is intended to cover current and future anticipated losses.
Filing a Complaint
After your attorney sends the demand letter, the insurance company will respond to your demand by either rejecting your claim outright or offering you a settlement. If the settlement is less than you believe you deserve or have asked for, you can reject the offer and your lawyer can help you re-negotiate the amount. If negotiations fail, the next step is filing a personal injury lawsuit.
At this point, the question of “How do I file a Chattanooga personal injury claim?” will morph into, “How do I file a personal injury lawsuit?” Your lawyer will file a formal complaint with the court. It will include a list of parties involved, your claim, facts and evidence that support your claim, and a demand for a settlement. Note that all civil actions for personal injury must be filed within one year from the date of injury in Tennessee.
The Discovery Process
Once your complaint has been filed, the discovery process will begin. This is the process of discovering information relevant to the claim. Both attorneys for the case ─ the defendant’s and the plaintiff’s ─ will have the right to gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and ask the other side to share any evidence they have. Attorneys may also depose witnesses during this phase.
Negotiating a Settlement
Clients often ask us, “How do I settle a personal injury claim, and is going to trial required?” The answer is that even after a lawsuit has been filed, a settlement can be negotiated at any step in the process, and litigation can be avoided. Negotiating a settlement is often preferable, as doing so can save time and money.
Many people also wonder, “How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?” You should know that it varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the evidence and facts of the case. We try to settle claims quickly for our clients while still maximizing compensation awards.
Going to Trial
In the event that a case cannot be settled, a trial will be necessary. If your case goes to trial, our skilled personal injury trial lawyers will be by your side to prepare you and advocate for your best interests.
How Our Firm Can Help with the Personal Injury Claims Process
Chattanooga personal injury claims can be complicated, and when you feel confused about how to file a personal injury claim in Chattanooga, you can count on the guidance and counsel of our experienced Chattanooga injury lawyers at The Davis Firm, LLC. Please visit The Davis Firm, LLC today for your free consultation, and learn how we can help you through this stressful time. Call us today!