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What Are My Rights as a Car Accident Victim?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2019 | Car Accidents

If you have been injured in a car accident in Tennessee, it is important that you have a clear understanding of your legal rights. Recovering financial compensation is a legal process. And in order to ensure that you receive “just” compensation, you need to know what constitutes a fair settlement under the unique facts and circumstances of your particular case.

While most people report their accidents to their insurance companies and then wait to see how much their insurers are willing to pay, this passive approach virtually guarantees that you will receive less than you deserve. This is particularly true if you have suffered an injury requiring medical treatment. In order to maximize your financial recovery, you need to take control of the process, and this requires a thorough understanding of your rights under Tennessee law.

7 Key Rights of Car Accident Victims in Tennessee

1. The Right to Obtain Prompt Medical Treatment from a Doctor of Your Choosing

When you get injured in a car accident, you are entitled to obtain prompt medical treatment from a doctor of your choosing. In fact, if you are in pain after a car accident, you should try to see your doctor immediately. Not only is it your right to obtain medical treatment, but doing so could also be critical to your claim for compensation.

The insurance companies cannot tell you where to go for treatment. They also cannot force you to sign any documents that give them access to your medical records. While you may eventually need to provide copies of certain records in order to prove the cause and extent of your injuries, this is something that should be done on your terms.

2. The Right to Collect the Evidence You Need to Prove Your Claim for Compensation

Securing financial compensation after a car accident requires proof of fault (or “negligence”). From speeding to texting behind the wheel, all forms of driver negligence can be proven with evidence. After a car accident, you have the right to collect the evidence you need to prove your claim, whether this means hiring an investigator to examine the scene of the accident or using formal legal procedures to request text records from the other driver’s phone company.

3.The Right to Be Treated Fairly by the Insurance Companies

Under Tennessee law, the insurance companies are legally obligated to handle all car accident claims in good faith. This does not mean that they automatically have to pay compensation for every claim (there are a number of valid reasons why an auto insurance claim may be disputed), but it does mean that they need to treat you fairly. If the insurance companies use bad-faith practices to delay, deny, or reduce the value of your claim, then you may be entitled to recover additional damages on top of your financial and non-financial losses. Some examples of bad-faith insurance practices include:

  • Failing to conduct a prompt investigation
  • Refusing to consider relevant evidence
  • Delaying payment or settlement negotiations without justification
  • Misrepresenting the terms of coverage
  • Making an unreasonably low settlement offer

4. The Right to Receive “Just” Compensation for Your Financial and Non-Financial Losses

As the victim of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to “just” compensation for your financial and non-financial losses. This means that you are entitled to the financial relief that you need in order to make yourself whole or to make it as though the accident never occurred.

Of course, if you have suffered an injury that will leave you with chronic pain, scarring, or a long-term disability, then no amount of money can return you to your pre-accident self. This is why Tennessee law entitles accident victims to recover compensation for non-financial losses such as pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life. If you have been seriously injured, determining what constitutes just compensation for your non-financial losses will be a key component of the recovery process.

5. The Right to Decide When (and If) to Settle Your Claim

When you have an auto accident claim, you do not have to accept the insurance company’s first offer. In fact, you do not have to accept any offer if you do not believe that the proposed settlement amount reflects just compensation for your accident-related losses. While your attorney can help you understand what constitutes fair compensation and advise you of the risks of refusing a settlement offer, ultimately, you have the right to decide when (and if) to settle your claim.

6. The Right to Take Your Claim to Court

If you are not satisfied with the insurance company’s best offer, then you have the right to take your claim to court. While most car accident claims settle, some do not. As your attorney works to negotiate a settlement, he or she should also be preparing for the possibility of going to trial. If, when the time comes, you decide to take your case to trial, your attorney will argue for a favorable judgment in open court.

Even once trial begins, it is still possible to negotiate a settlement, and many car accident cases are resolved via settlement during trial. If the insurance company is convinced that the judge or jury is likely to rule in your favor, then you may be presented with the option of accepting a settlement or waiting to see if the court will order the insurance company to pay more than it was willing to offer.

7. The Right to Legal Representation Throughout the Process

From the moment you are injured in a car accident, you have the right to legal representation. Hiring an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure that you receive just compensation for your accident-related losses. At Batson Nolan PLC, we handle all car accident claims on a contingency-fee basis. So you pay nothing unless we help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Get Started with a Free Initial Consultation at Batson Nolan PLC

If you have been injured in a car accident in Tennessee and would like more information about your legal rights, we encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation. To speak with an attorney at our offices in Clarksville or Springfield, please call 931-650-5484 or request an appointment online today.