If you’re hurt in an auto accident, do you need a Chattanooga personal injury lawyer to protect your legal interests? You can probably do it yourself, but that doesn’t mean it’s the smart thing to do?
It’s true that when you handle your own claim, you can take charge of your own destiny and do things the way you want them done. The process will take a lot of energy during a time when you should be working on your recovery and often you stand to get less than the true value of your claim. Before you decide to handle your injury claim by yourself, you should understand exactly what the decision means.
You will have to deal with the insurance companies
If you’ve had an accident before, you may have dealt with your own insurance company and decided the claims process wasn’t so bad. Of course you had a contract with your insurance company. You paid them to do certain things in exchange for your premiums. They had to cooperate with you.
When you file a liability claim, you’ll deal with your insurance company, but you’ll have to deal with the other guy’s company as well. They have an insurance contract with the other guy, so they will be looking out for his legal and financial interests. That could make the claim-handling process a bit more complicated than you remember.
You will have to cooperate with the insurance adjuster
The other guy’s liability adjuster will investigate the accident to determine fault. He will obtain a police report, do a site investigation, and talk to witnesses. He probably won’t make any promises to pay you, but he’ll expect you to cooperate when he asks you to sign a medical release, allow him to record your version of the accident, let an auto adjuster examine your car, and obtain copies of all your medical bills.
The adjuster investigating your claim will have a good idea of the liability issues involved before he takes your statement. He will ask questions to pinpoint any act you may have committed that contributed to the accident.
You’ll have to figure out the liability issues
The adjuster will sort through the liability issues before and after he completes his investigation. If the issues are complicated, he will have access to his company’s legal representatives for clarification. Even if the liability is clear in your eyes, the adjuster may form a different opinion and decide not to pay you.
Tennessee negligence statutes recognize that more than one person can be responsible for causing an accident. If the other guy’s insurance company decides that you were 50 percent or more at fault, they won’t offer to pay you a dime.
You must deal with the liability adjuster’s decision
When you don’t have a legal representative, the other guy’s insurance company will send all written requests and decisions directly to you. If he needs more information or is ready to inform you of his decision to pay or not pay your claim, he will tell you.
Whatever decision he makes, you’ll have to figure out what to do next. If he denies your claim, you can argue about it, but you probably won’t get anywhere. Remember, it’s their job to best represent their client’s interests – not your’s.
You may have to negotiate an injury settlement
If the adjuster decides to pay your injury claim, you will have to figure out your medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses. You’ll also have to place a dollar value on your pain, suffering and other non-economic losses.
Once you’ve decided how much money you want, you’ll have to talk the insurance adjuster into paying it. If you can’t reach an agreement, you may have to file a lawsuit; so it’s possible your case could end up in the hands of a lawyer anyway.
You’ll execute the final documents
If you and the liability adjuster agree on a settlement figure, you will be responsible for reviewing and properly executing any releases or settlement documents.
If your health or auto med pay coverage insurers paid any of your medical bills, you’ll have to protect their subrogation rights and/or reimburse any money they paid on your behalf.
You can do it on your own, but should you?
As you can see, it takes a lot of time, energy, and know-how to handle your own injury claim. You could get through the process on your own, but should you even try?
Want to talk to a Chattanooga personal injury lawyer?
If you’d prefer not to do it all on your own, contact us. We are knowledgeable, experienced Chattanooga personal injury lawyers and we can protect your legal interests.