Tennessee Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline
Tennessee, like many other states, has laws that determine whether a car accident must be reported, how insurers are involved, and the time frame within which a lawsuit must be filed. If you were in a car accident in the state, understanding the Tennessee car accident settlement process and timeline can help ensure that you are fairly compensated. The following article offers key information about how to pursue a claim against an insurer following a Tennessee car accident.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Tennessee?
In Tennessee two kinds of accidents must be reported:
- Accidents that involve personal injury, death, or property damage in excess of $50, under Tennessee Code Section 55-10-106, must be reported immediately to the local police department, county sheriff, or state highway patrol.
- The Tennessee Department of Safety classifies accidents involving personal injury, death, and property damage in excess of $400 as "reportable," meaning that the accident, pursuant to Tennessee Code Section 55-10-107, must be reported within twenty days after the incident to the Department of Safety using an accident report available from the local law enforcement agency or highway patrol office.
Tennessee Car Insurance Laws
Tennessee drivers who have been in a reportable accident must provide proof of financial security pursuant to Tennessee Code Section 55-1102 unless they can produce notarized releases from each of the people involved in the accident.
Adequate car insurance is sufficient proof of financial security, but if you do not have proof of insurance a surety bond or cash sufficient to cover all the damages is an acceptable substitute.
If you fail to show proof of insurance or sufficient resources to cover the damages your drivers license and vehicle registration may be revoked pursuant to Tennessee Code Section 55-12-104.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Tennessee?
After a car accident claim has been filed with the appropriate insurer there is a period of investigation of the accident. This investigation is typically undertaken by the insurance company's claims adjuster. The investigation usually includes a review of the evidence you have submitted to the insurer, a review of public records such as police reports, medical records, interviews with witnesses, and other sources.
Depending on the strength of your claim and the information available, the insurance claims adjuster determines whether to offer a settlement. You, with the assistance of your attorney if you have retained one, then decide whether to accept the settlement offer. This may be the first of several rounds of offers and counter-offers proffered by either side. If the parties can find a mutually acceptable settlement the parties will sign an agreement exchanging the settlement amount for your release of claims against the insurer.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Tennessee?
An average of car accident settlements is extremely difficult to produce since the circumstances and impacts of an accident differ greatly from person-to-person and have changed significantly over time. However, the factors involved in determining the amount of a car accident settlement include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Car repairs
- Pain and suffering
- Disability or disfigurement
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Tennessee?
Tennessee law requires that you file a car accident lawsuit within one year following an accident involving personal injury under Tennessee Code Section 28-3-104, or three years after an accident involving vehicle or property damage under Tennessee Code Section 28-3-105. Failure to file within these time limits can result in the loss of your claim altogether.
Get Legal Help with Your Car Accident Case in Tennessee
Car accident settlements can require a significant amount of negotiation or litigation before an agreement can be reached, and there are deadlines that can result in the loss of claims. For this reason, it's a good idea to consult with a local car accident attorney to handle the legal issues surrounding your car accident. A lawyer can help you manage your communications with the insurance companies and ensure that you're fairly compensated for your damages.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.