Will the lawyer help me get a better result than if I negotiate with the insurance company?
Yes, if you’ve got the right lawyer, the right lawyer should develop your case and build your case in a way that any money that you would have to pay for your attorney’s fees, is going to be outweighed by the amount of money going to you, in your pocket, for your injuries and for your pain and suffering to make you whole.
And so the idea is that, if your attorney is good at his or her job, they work diligently on your case, then they should be able to increase any offer that you would get from the insurance company by managing the situation on your own. And, so that would really help you to get a better result. And essentially the attorney’s work should pay for itself. And, it should increase the amount of money that you’re going to see ultimately in the resolution of your client. Because, the idea is to be able to put you back in the same position that you were in before the collision occurred, and to make you whole for your injuries.
And again, one of the unfortunate things that happen in motor vehicle collisions or other types of injuries, is a person may have difficulty getting back to their regular everyday life. And that is what the law allows for is the payment of money to try to help the person compensate them for the differences in their life, before a collision and after a collision. Unfortunately, sometimes there is no amount of money that is going to really make a person whole and put them back, even millions of dollars might not really compensate someone for what they have been through, but it’s the best way that the law has to try to make a situation, right.
Although, unfortunately, it does sometimes fall short in making a person whole. But it’s the best way that our legal system has to compensate you for your injury. So another question that we get sometimes is, how long do you have to make a claim for your injury after a motor vehicle collision? In Tennessee, we have what’s considered to be a relatively short statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is essentially the drop deadline that you have to file a lawsuit to keep your claim alive. Okay?
And this is very important because, if you’re dealing with the insurance company directly, one of the things that clients can sometimes inadvertently do, and not realize, is they think because they had talked to the insurance company, they have made a “claim” with the insurance company. They think, well, I have stopped, the statute of limitations from running. But making a claim with the insurance company is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit. So what do you need to take to file a lawsuit?
Most people at the time they need to file a lawsuit will hire an attorney to do that for them because it is very tricky to navigate the legal system without making a fatal error in your case. And particularly the process of filing a lawsuit and serving the at-fault party, or the insurance company for the at-fault party, it can make it very difficult and can actually be fatal to your case. So in Tennessee, you have one year from the date of the injury to do that. And yeah, that’s completely separate from calling the insurance company, letting them know there’s been a collision, making a claim on the insurance company, whether it’s your uninsured motorist or whether it is the at-fault party’s insurance company.
That just will not suffice, it does not get you across the goal line. So that’s why it is always in your best interest to talk to an attorney and have them available to help you as you proceed through the process. So in Mississippi, they have a more generous statute of limitations. So they have a three-year statute of limitations in Mississippi within which you can file a lawsuit. Now, another wrinkle associated with the statute of limitations is, who hit you? Okay. So we’re talking about a different statute of limitations in Mississippi and Tennessee if you have been hit by someone who is working for the federal government.
So where do we see this a lot? Believe it or not, postal workers get in a lot of car collisions and probably because they’re having to do a lot of different tasks at a time. But that is filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act and there’s actually a much shorter statute of limitations under the Federal Tort Claims Act. So if you are hit by a driver for the US post office. I’ve had a situation where a client was hit by a driver who was working for the federal census. So all that is a little bit different.
And again, this is just another example of why you’re going to want to contact an attorney who knows these things and is not just someone who is practicing personal injury law, without any real experience. Because it’d be very easy for an inexperienced attorney in personal injury law to believe that you would have a year after … for instance, in Tennessee if you were hit by a Census worker, to file a claim. And that is just absolutely not true. It is a much shorter time period when anybody for the federal government is involved.
So that’s just another example of why it’s important to get an attorney involved. And the other thing is, the sooner you get an attorney involved, the better off you are because evidence disappears. Things disappear, they become harder to get. It can be difficult even to get a police report sometimes, evidence gets lost. You may obtain the police report, but you may not realize that at the scene, a lot of times, the police actually take photographs as well. So it’s great to get those photographs.
And if you’re able to at the scene, you can take photographs, and if you’re going to take your own photographs, which a lot of people do now using their phone, you’re just going to want to make sure you get photos of your car, the at-fault party’s car. You’re going to want to make sure you get kind of a full-blown photo of the entire scene. So can show kind of the positioning of the cars in relation to one another. If you have any injuries, you’re going to want to take photos of those injuries.
All that can be very, very helpful. Also, we are seeing more and more of situations where people have dash cams on their cars, particularly if you’re hit by a commercial vehicle. A lot of commercial vehicles are now equipped with dash cams, so it may have captured the entire collision. And the bad news is, you don’t have a way to force the at-fault party if there is a dash cam to give that up without filing a lawsuit. But again, this is where it’s advantageous to have an attorney. Because an attorney can take the appropriate steps to file a lawsuit and obtain that dash cam.
There are also, digital recorders in commercial vehicles, particularly 18 wheelers and truckers that kind of record the speed of the vehicle, what direction it was traveling, all those things and all those events. And occasionally there are situations wherein serious car wrecks, where your attorney is going to need to bring in an accident reconstructionist expert. And we have experience dealing with those experts. And, knowing the appropriate cases to bring the experts in on, and how to work with those experts in a way that maximizes your case, and helps you get the absolute best results.
And so those are just some of the things you’re going to want to think about if you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision. So, I think we’ve covered about, most of the questions that we have for today. Again, the insurance company, their goal is to pay you as little as possible, and a good attorney who is working for you, who has your best interest at heart, and who is willing to put forth the time and effort in your case, to do the legwork, should be able to increase the value of your case.
To increase not only what the insurance company would be offering you, what you would be getting, also to cover his or her fees. So I appreciate your time today. If you have questions or concerns about what to do after a car wreck, you need to call The Crone Law Firm. You can ask for me, my name is Laura Bailey. I’ve been practicing in the area of personal injury for 10 years, and I’ve worked on a lot of variety of car wreck cases and I’d be happy to talk to you about your case, and see how we could help you to get the best result under your circumstances.
*This is a transcript of the Facebook Live video from 6-21-18 Click here to watch the video.