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What You Need to Know About Car Insurance Claims

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Sep 09, 2021 | 0 Comments

After a car accident, bills and expenses can add up quickly. Insurance is supposed to be there to help you cover these astronomical costs, but unfortunately, the insurance system can be a bit difficult to navigate alone. At Labrum Law, our objective is to help our clients recover as much as possible, as efficiently as possible. Whether your claim settles quickly, or whether we need to take it to court to fight for your right to recover compensation, the experienced Nashville-area car accident lawyers at Labrum Law are there for you throughout the whole process. Call our office at 615-338-9500 or fill out our online form here to set up a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers. We do not charge clients unless we win their case.

When to File a Car Insurance Claim

One of the most difficult parts of navigating car insurance claims is determining when to file a claim, and with which insurer. In car accidents, there may be multiple insurance policies involved. Your insurance policy, the policies of the other drivers, or in some cases, rental car insurance policies or employers' policies. Identifying all of these insurance plans and analyzing what is covered and what is not can be legally complex and challenging.

When cars need repair work or people are injured or potentially injured, it is important to let the insurance companies know as soon as possible. In fact, many insurance policies even require the policyholder to inform them of any accidents within a certain amount of time. Insurers generally give their insureds 30 days to report an accident, but make sure to check your specific insurance policy to ensure you inform your insurer promptly. 

Which Policy Do I File Under?

Car accidents are usually between two or more vehicles, so this means there are likely a few different insurance policies that may be included in your claim. If you believe you were not at-fault for the accident, you generally have a few options to seek compensation for the accident.

First, you can file a first party claim with your own insurance company. Second, you can file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.

Additionally, it is important to note that Tennessee is an “at-fault” state. In some states, a driver can buy Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP), which allows them to recover under a claim regardless of whether they caused the accident or not. However, Tennessee does not offer PIP coverage, so if you are found to be 50% or more at-fault for the accident, then it becomes more challenging to receive compensation for your injuries. Visiting with an experienced car accident attorney at Labrum Law can help you understand whether or not you have the legal standing to bring a claim to receive compensation for your injuries and losses.

What Is the Minimum Coverage in Tennessee?

According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, all liability car insurance coverage must include:

  • $25,000 of coverage for each person injured or killed in an accident
  • $50,000 of coverage for all injuries or deaths in an accident
  • $15,000 of coverage for all property damage in an accident

What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

In some cases, the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover all of the victim's damages. Tennessee, like many states, requires drivers to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) as part of their insurance plan.

Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-7-1201, all automobile insurance policies must contain UM/UIM coverage to protect drivers who would be eligible to recover compensatory damages from an at-fault driver, but cannot because the other driver did not have sufficient insurance. To file a UM/UIM claim, the victim must file a first party claim with their own insurance company. They can then either seek the full amount that would have been due from an uninsured driver, or they can seek the difference between what they were owed and what the at-fault driver's insurance would cover. 

How to File Car Insurance Claims

The process for filing a car insurance claim can be daunting and overwhelming for victims of car accidents. The most important thing to remember about filing a car accident claim is that Tennessee has a very short statute of limitations, which is the deadline by which a victim must file a claim in court in order to receive compensation for their injuries and losses from a negligent party. Victims injured in a car accident in the state of Tennessee must file a claim within one year of the accident, or lose their legal right to pursue compensation under the law.

Steps To Take When Filing Car Insurance Claims

If you are considering filing a car insurance claim following an accident, consider the following steps:

1. Obtain Information and Seek Medical Attention

One of the most important parts of filing an insurance claim is what you do at the scene of the accident. Pay attention to your surroundings, jot down notes, take photographs, and attempt to obtain as much information as possible. It is typically a good idea to never apologize or admit liability, even if you feel badly about what happened. Admitting fault can seriously hurt a car insurance claim, and possibly prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve under the law. You should remain calm and try to exchange information with other drivers. If anyone needs emergency medical attention, call 9-1-1. You should always seek medical attention if you suffered any injuries as a result of the accident.

2. File the Insurance Claim

The next step after seeking medical attention, is to contact your insurance company. At some point, the negligent driver's insurance company will also contact you for information. At this point, you should be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. The process may vary from carrier to carrier, but it is important to be very careful with what you say to both your insurance company as well as the other driver's insurance company as they may use manipulative tactics in order to offer you a low settlement.

3. Settlement Negotiations

The claims process usually requires a lot of back-and-forth discussions and exchange of information with the insurance company. If you make the decision to handle settlement negotiations on your own, you should always remain calm and be patient. Insurers use tactics to try to get claimants to accept a lower offer than they are entitled to under the law.

It is important to understand that you have a legal right during settlement negotiations to have an attorney represent you and ensure that your legal rights are protected. Claimants usually find a settlement that works for them, but if the dispute goes on for a long time, they often need to file a lawsuit to ensure the statute of limitations does not lapse. In rare cases, the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, and the case needs to be tried in front of a jury. If you suffered any injuries or losses as a result of someone else's negligence, consider visiting with an experienced car accident attorney at Labrum Law today.

Our Legal Team Has Years of Experience Negotiating With Insurance Companies

Most car accident cases do not go to trial. If you are hiring a car accident lawyer, consider working with an attorney who knows how to navigate the car insurance claims process. At Labrum Law, we have helped countless clients settle their car insurance claims and receive the compensation they deserve under the law. Call us at 615-338-9500 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation with a Tennessee car accident lawyer. 

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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