After getting injured in a car accident, most victims know that insurance is usually the first place to turn for compensation, but they might not be aware of the insurance system used in Tennessee. Understanding the insurance rules in this state is vital to your case.
Tennessee is a “fault” state. When someone is injured in a car accident because of another person’s negligence, they can pursue compensation by filing a claim against the other person’s insurance. In a fault insurance system, though, you can choose instead to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. This is often the best way to recover the full range of damages you are owed.
If you were injured in a car accident, our Tennessee car accident attorneys can help you determine if filing an insurance claim or lawsuit is the right move in your case. For a free case review, contact Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.
Does Tennessee Use a “No Fault” or “Fault” Insurance System?
Two types of insurance systems are employed throughout the country for car accident liability: “no-fault” and “fault” insurance. A minority of states use no-fault insurance rules. In a no-fault state, injured parties must recover compensation for their injuries from their own insurance without needing to prove fault. The rest of the states, including Tennessee, use a fault-based insurance system. If you are injured in a car accident in Tennessee, you can pursue damages from the negligent driver by filing a third-party claim against their insurance company.
One core difference is, as the name implies, that you do not need to prove fault to get compensated in a no-fault state. Whether you file with your own insurance (no-fault systems) or the at-fault driver’s insurance (fault systems) is also a difference.
However, an important practical distinction between no-fault and fault insurance is the injured party’s right to sue. Under most no-fault insurance rules, victims cannot file a lawsuit or recover pain and suffering damages after a car accident unless they suffer serious injuries. Thus, insurance might be the only option for compensation in a no-fault state.
In a fault state like Tennessee, victims have the option of filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit. While most car accident cases will start by filing an insurance claim, some cases are better off just going through the court.
Unlike with no-fault insurance rules, you must provide evidence to the other driver’s insurance company to prove they were at fault before you can recover damages. Liability can often be shown through the police accident report. For instance, if a driver ran a traffic signal and caused an accident, they could be ticketed for their negligence. The determination of liability by the police can be immensely helpful when you go to hold a negligent driver accountable. Our Nashville car accident attorneys can walk you through the insurance claims process and determine if filing a lawsuit is a better option in your case.
How Does the Fault Insurance Process Work in Tennessee?
The first step to recovering compensation through insurance after a car accident in Tennessee is to get the other driver’s information. This includes their license and insurance information. This should not be too difficult in most cases, as drivers are expected to exchange information after an accident. However, getting this information can be challenging if the other driver refuses to cooperate with you or flees the scene of the accident. If the other driver is combative and refuses to provide their information, the best thing to do is wait for the police to arrive and conduct their investigation. The driver might be able to refuse to answer you, but they cannot refuse police questioning. Their information will be included in the accident report, which our Tennessee car accident attorneys can help you obtain.
The police report from your accident can be one of the most important pieces of evidence you provide an insurance company to recover compensation. In addition to the driver’s pertinent information, your police report could include witnesses that were interviewed and their contact information. It will also list the accident’s date, time, and location. Perhaps most importantly, if there was evidence of negligence on the other driver’s part, your police report should include that and other observations made by the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the other driver will usually be ticketed.
Once your evidence has been submitted to the insurance company, they will analyze your claim and return with an initial settlement offer. Contrary to popular belief, the first offer is typically not the highest. The more evidence you provide to support your claim, the more likely the insurance company will make a fair offer. If the insurance company is not convinced or is not dealing in good faith, they will deny your claim. Fortunately, you can file a lawsuit if the insurance company is unwilling to settle your case. Our Knoxville car accident attorneys can help you along every step of the claims process to recover the compensation you deserve.
Should I File an At-Fault Insurance Claim or a Lawsuit Against the Other Driver in Tennessee?
While insurance is often the first option exercised after being injured in a car accident, it is not required before filing a lawsuit. Some might worry that the other driver’s finances might be unable to cover their damages in a lawsuit. Fortunately, the negligent driver’s insurance company is responsible for covering damages, whether in a lawsuit or an insurance claim. Thus, there is no need to worry about where compensation might come from if you win your lawsuit.
A lawsuit can still be filed even after an insurance claim has been submitted. The at-fault insurance claims process typically involves negotiations between the parties in an attempt to find a fair settlement deal. However, it is notoriously difficult to get insurance companies to pay the full amount you are owed. When an insurance company is unwilling to provide the compensation you are entitled to, it might be time to file a lawsuit. Our Murfreesboro car accident attorneys can help you file your lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to provide the damages you are entitled to.
Our Tennessee Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you need to recover compensation after a car accident, our experienced Chattanooga car accident attorneys can help you determine the best options to hold the other driver accountable. Call Howe Law today at (844) 876-4357 for a free assessment of your case.