Car accidents force life-changing consequences. Even with the right car insurance policy and a comprehensive health care plan, victims often struggle to overcome intense physical pain and mounting medical debt. Under Tennessee state law, survivors have a legal right to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the person, or party, who caused their accident-related injuries. However, dealing with adjusters and securing a fair settlement is rarely easy.
Understanding the Car Insurance Company’s Intent
Tennessee, like almost every other state in the country, requires a minimum amount of insurance on all registered and roadworthy motor vehicles. While car insurance policies can be expensive, they ensure that accident victims have a recourse if they’re ever injured by another driver’s negligence.
Under the Volunteer State’s fault-based insurance system, accident victims must typically file a claim for compensation with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company. Most companies employ adjusters who investigate claims to determine the extent and value of a victim’s damages. In many cases, the adjuster is an accident victim’s first point of contact regarding their case.
However, speaking to an adjuster is a risk-filled undertaking. Even if the individual is sympathetic to your injuries, they’re beholden to their employer, the insurance provider. Since companies are for-profit businesses, it’s not in their best interest to concede a fair settlement without first putting up a fight. While this may seem inherently unfair, it makes some measure of economic sense: if an insurance company paid every claim without negotiation, it wouldn’t remain profitable for very long.
How to Avoid Mistakes After a Tennessee Car Accident
Insurance adjusters sometimes resort to tactics deliberately designed to minimize the potential value of a car accident claim. So to protect yours, avoid the following.
Apologizing for the Accident
Adjusters are trained negotiators. Whenever you talk to them by yourself, they’re most likely paying close attention to your words, proactively searching for any excuse to offload liability and ensure their employer’s continued profitability.
Simply apologizing for your role in the accident is often enough for an adjuster to claim that you have—in effect—admitted fault, even if you only apologized because you felt you were taking up too much of their time.
Providing a Recorded Statement
You should always avoid making a recorded statement after an accident, even if you believe that the other driver was clearly at fault. While you may eventually have to explain what happened, you’re not obliged to do so immediately or on demand.
Providing a recorded statement alone, without competent legal representation, can be risky. If you misspeak, or are prompted to provide unnecessary information, the adjuster could use these conversations against you in later negotiations.
Signing a Medical Records Release
The insurance company may need to review accident-related medical records to assess the validity of your claim, but they don’t need unbridled access to your entire health history.
Protecting Your Rights After a Smyrna-Area Car Crash
Speaking to an adjuster can be nerve-racking, especially when your physical and financial recovery are on the line. However, you don’t have to bear the burden of another motorist’s mistake alone. After a Smyrna-area car crash, take the following steps to keep your recovery safe from potentially predatory adjusters.
Accept Immediate Medical Attention
You should always seek prompt medical attention after a Tennessee car accident, even if you don’t believe you were seriously injured. Some conditions don’t display any noticeable signs or symptoms, so seeing a doctor is often the only way to diagnose—and effectively treat—potentially life-altering injuries, such as internal organ damage, a traumatic brain injury, or whiplash. Furthermore, seeing a doctor demonstrates to an adjuster that you had legitimate concerns about your physical well-being and aren’t simply seeking to profit off an unfortunate accident.
Don’t Accept an Initial Offer of Settlement
If the other motorist was clearly at fault, an insurance company might offer a settlement without negotiation. However, these initial offers of settlement—while sometimes surprisingly generous—rarely account for the totality of a victim’s losses. For example, it may provide compensation for paid medical expenses, but fail to account for a survivor’s anticipated health needs or lost income from work. Even if a settlement seems too good to be true, contact an attorney to conduct a fair and impartial review before signing away your rights.