Chattanooga Valley Car Accident Attorney
HS Law represents car accident victims in Chattanooga Valley.
HURT BY DRIVER WITH HEAD UP HIS APPS?™
No one wants to find themselves the victim of a car accident. Unfortunately, millions of people are seriously injured in auto wrecks each year. In 2018 alone, approximately 40,000 people lost their lives and 4.5 million people were seriously injured in car accidents.
After you are injured in a car accident, it is very common to be stressed out and confused by the legal process. However, the moments following an automobile accident play a critical role in how your personal injury suit might play out.
After a wreck, it is important that you know how to deal with the people and situations you will encounter. Prior to hiring a car accident lawyer, there are a few situations you will encounter following your wreck.
What to do after a car accident
The legal process following a car accident can be long and drawn out. That is why we have provided the following step-by-step guide to help you – starting with the scene of the accident.
What to do at the scene of the car accident
The legal process begins the moment you get in an accident. Your first interaction will likely be with the other person involved in the wreck.
Interacting with the other driver
Keep in mind that emotions can be high following an accident. Now is not the time to establish fault or blame.
Tips for interacting with other drivers
- Limit your interactions. Do not debate who caused the accident or argue.
- Do not get out of your vehicle if you are injured or road conditions are unsafe. If it is safe to exit your vehicle and you are physically able, take photographs of the vehicles.
- Call 911 to report the car accident and wait for police to arrive. It is important to note that 911 calls are transcribed and will be requested if a lawsuit is filed. Lawyers obtain these transcripts by filing an open records requests.
Interacting with police officers at the accident
The police officers job is to collect information. Your job is to provide them with the facts. A few tips for knowing what to say (or what not to say) to police officers after your car accident.
Tips for interacting with other drivers
- When police arrive on scene, try your best to remain calm.
- Limit your conversation to the facts of what happened.
- Do not make any admission of fault.
- Do not add any unsolicited information. For example, some people tell police that they were in a rush to get somewhere or they were looking at their child in the back seat.
- Keep it short and sweet. If the other driver turned left in front of you, simply tell the officer that and stop talking. If you were hit from behind, tell the officer that and stop talking.
- Do not worry about getting the other driver’s insurance information. The police officer will obtain his or her insurance information and other relevant information and include it in an accident report. Most reports are available within 3 to 5 business days.
The officer should give you a card with the report number. If the officer does not, ask him for the report number. You will need this to order the report or for one of our lawyers to order the report. Most, but not all, reports can be purchased on Buy Crash.
Finally, the police officer will ask you if you need medical assistance. If you feel any pain or if your vehicle sustained significant damage, let the officer know that you need medical care. If you tell the officer you need medical help, he or she can quickly dispatch an ambulance to transport you to the best emergency room to treat your injuries.
WE GET RESULTS
Wrongful Death Car Accident
Car Accident Neck Injury
Car Accident Back Injury
What to say to hospital staff
It is never a bad idea to be examined by emergency room physicians following an accident. This is especially true if your vehicle sustained significant damage. When you go to the emergency room following a car accident, be sure to provide a copy of your health insurance. If you do not provide your health insurance the hospital may file a hospital lien.
Tips for interacting with doctors or nurses at the hospital
- Limit your conversation to injuries related to the car accident.
- But be sure to tell the doctor about all injuries related to your car accident. It is human nature to focus on what is causing us the most immediate pain, but do not forget to tell the doctor other areas of pain. For example, you may suffer a broken wrist that is very painful in a car accident and have minor neck pain.
- If you don’t report the initial injury, insurance companies will try to argue that any injury not initially reported was the result of subsequent accident or injury.
- If asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, do not try to be tough. If you pain is a 7 or 8 out of 10, be honest and report that number.
- Do not downplay your pain. Doctors need honest answers to provide the best treatment possible. Also, by downplaying legitimate injuries, you are giving insurance companies the evidence they need to minimize the value of your case.
Talking to Insurance Companies
After a car accident, it is common for the other party’s insurance company to call you.
What to say to the other party’s insurance company
We suggest you take the following approach when talking to the other party’s insurance company:
- Important note: You have zero obligation to talk to the other party’s insurance company.
- Get the person’s name, phone number, and company name.
- Politely tell the person that you do not feel well and that you will call them back.
- Do not make the mistake of speaking to the other party’s insurance company agent without a lawyer. Insurance adjusters are highly trained professionals.
If you want more information on what to say when talking to insurance companies, check out our article on the car accident insurance claims process.
What to say to your insurance company
It is important to let your insurance company know that you were in a car accident. Most car insurance policies issued in Georgia require notice of any claims as soon as reasonably practicable after a car accident. However, note that an HS Law attorney can send notice on your behalf. We recommend you have a lawyer send notice for two reasons.
- We want to make sure you do not give potentially damaging information.
- We want our clients to focus on their medical treatment and not get bogged down in the frustrating claims process. If you do talk to your insurance company, it is important to limit your conversation to your vehicle only.
If you have reached this point, you should seriously consider contacting a lawyer. Your next step is knowing how to hire the right car accident attorney for your case.
This is what we do at HS Law. Our legal team has over 30 years of combined experience in legal matters involving victims of car accidents. We know how to win cases. Every attorney at HS Law brings years of experience and a successful track record to the table. Our business is exclusively personal injury cases, and car accident cases are some of the most common cases we take on.
For a FREE consultation with a trusted Chattanooga Valley car accident lawyer today, call us at (404) 400-1175.
Types of Car Wrecks
All car accidents may seem relatively similar. However, the potential for vehicle damage and injury varies greatly between a fender bender and a head-on collision. There are four main types of car accident classifications and knowing the difference is important, especially when looking for an attorney.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a head-on collision can be defined as, “A collision where the front end of one vehicle collides with the front end of another vehicle while the two vehicles are traveling in opposite directions.” U.S. statistics show that in 2005, head-on crashes were only two percent of all crashes, yet accounted for 10.1 percent of U.S. fatal crashes. Head-on collisions occur when the driver of a vehicle fails to stay in their lane, leaving the road or crossing the centerline. Causes of head-on collisions range from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to fatigue or low visibility.
According to the NHTSA, rear-end collisions are the number one type of car crashes. They’re responsible for roughly 29 percent of all car accidents nationwide. The definition of a rear-end collision is when a vehicle crashes into the one in front of it. Injuries include whiplash, back injuries, spinal cord paralysis, head and brain injuries, facial disfigurement, wrist and arm injuries, and seat belt injuries. Legally, the driver of the car that rear-ends the other car is usually considered to be at fault. The only exception would be if the driver in front was driving in reverse gear.
Side-impact collisions are vehicle crashes where the side of one or more vehicles is impacted. These crashes often occur at intersections, in parking lots, and when two vehicles pass on a multi-lane roadway. A type of side collision, broadside collisions, is when the side of one vehicle is impacted by the front or rear of another vehicle, forming a “T.” Many call this a “T-bone” collision. These types of accidents can be especially dangerous because the side of a vehicle offers little to no protection to the passenger or driver. Vehicle occupants on the side of a vehicle impacted usually suffer more severe injuries than they would in a front or rear-end crash.
A rollover is a type of vehicle crash in which a vehicle tips over onto its side or roof. Rollovers have a higher fatality rate than other types of vehicle collisions, according to the NHTSA. Rollovers can be classified as tripped and untripped, meaning caused by an external object (like another car or curb), or the result of speed and friction with the ground (sharp turn at a high speed, for example). All vehicles are vulnerable to rollovers, although SUVs are at a greater risk because of the height and center of mass.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Most drivers will experience a car accident sometime in their lives – whether it’s a minor fender bender or a more serious collision. The causes of wrecks can be wide ranging but the location of accidents tends to be closest to home. In fact, 52 percent of all nonfatal car accidents occur within five miles of a person’s home.
Some types of injuries like broken bones and large cuts make the need for medical attention clear. Other symptoms, like minor aches and pains, should also be checked out by a medical professional immediately to avoid the long term consequences of a lingering injury.
The most common car accident injuries
- Spinal Injuries
- Internal Bleeding
- Broken Bones
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is vital you seek out an experienced car accident attorney. At HS Law our legal team has over 30 years of combined experience in legal matters involving victims of car accidents. Plus, consultation calls are absolutely free.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is my car accident case worth?
This is probably one of the most frequent questions we answer at Horst Shewmaker. Case value depends on so many facts that it impossible to list every item. But a few of the major items when evaluating your case include what kind of injury you have suffered, property damage, how much your medical expenses total, jurisdiction of the at fault party, and wage loss. For a more detailed and individual case evaluation, please call and talk to one of the lawyers at HS Law. Consultations are always free!
Is it important to hire a lawyer immediately after a car accident?
Yes. Some clients call Horst Shewmaker, LLC when it is too late for us to offer much help. Evidence can disappear if appropriate steps are not taken to immediately preserve it. Witnesses should be interviewed early on by a lawyer. Important letters protecting your right to use various insurance policies must be sent, sometimes in as little as 30 days. Finally, aside from the many legal reasons to hire a lawyer after a car crash, having someone who knows the law represent your interests relieves stress and allows you to focus on getting better.
I do not have any money to hire a lawyer. Will I have to fight the insurance company on my own?
At HS Law, we charge no fees or costs up front. You do not pay anything to us until you receive a verdict or settlement in your favor. If for some reason we are unable to resolve your case, even if we have put numerous hours of work into it, you do not owe us anything.
After my car accident, the other driver’s insurance company said they want a recorded statement. Should I give them one?
Absolutely not! Giving a recorded statement without a lawyer representing you will only harm your case. Insurance companies are not recording the statements for your benefit. Even if you think you have a slam dunk claim, insurance companies will gather harmful information. Remember that claims adjusters receive special training to ask questions designed to harm your case. Also, these statements can be used to impeach your testimony should a deposition become necessary in your case.
Related: How to talk to insurance companies?
I do not have health insurance and I cannot afford to go to the doctor for my injuries. The insurance company says it will only issue one payment and it will not pay for my ongoing medical care. How am I supposed to get better and treat my injuries?
If you do not have health insurance, we work with doctors who will treat you now in exchange for being paid out of the settlement for their fees. Insurance companies know that most people without insurance will simply settle for whatever they can get because insurance companies only pay one lump sum settlement. To get any money from an insurance company, you will have to sign a release. If you sign a release, it almost certainly ends any and all claims. Do not do this if you are in pain. Call HS Law. We can help facilitate medical treatment for you.
I went to the hospital after my car accident and the billing staff told me that they do not bill my health insurance. Why not?
Money. The hospital often makes more money if it does not bill your health insurance. You probably heard something like this at the hospital when you tried giving the staff your health insurance: “Don’t worry about that, we bill the car insurance because this is an accident claim.” This statement is very misleading. The only time that a hospital or medical provider will bill car insurance is when you have medical payments coverage under your own car insurance. Keep in mind that medical payments coverage (often referred to as “Med Pay”) typically has very low limits that will not even begin to cover a hospital visit.
Instead of using your health insurance, the hospital often files a lien against your case. Hospitals do this because they must accept contractual rates from health insurance providers. The payment made by health insurance can be very small and the hospital, if in network with your health insurance, must accept what it is paid. Frankly, the hospital makes more money when it files a lien and collects from your settlement. Therefore, it is very important to make sure the hospital bills your health insurance. At HS Law, our car accident lawyers make sure that happens.
I got in a car accident and the person that hit me has no insurance! What now?
Uninsured drivers are far more common than you think. At HS Law, we deal with this issue almost daily. You may have uninsured motorist coverage that protects you and likely it will not increase your premiums (we address this in another FAQ). Uninsured motorist coverage is simply insurance to protect you against other motorists’ lack of insurance. Even if you personally do not have uninsured motorist coverage, there may be other ways an HS Law car accident lawyer can obtain compensation for your injuries.
The person who hit me in my car accident failed to stop. I do not have any information to identify the person. Am I out of luck?
Maybe not. In certain instances, Georgia law allows for an injured person to recover against his own insurance company when the person is the victim of a hit-and-run driver. And even if you do not have any car insurance, you may still qualify for insurance benefits depending on who owned the vehicle in which you were riding and with whom you lived at the time of the wreck. This analysis can become complicated and there is limited time for the analysis to be done. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, please contact an HS Law car accident lawyer immediately.
Why do most Jonesboro car accident attorneys refuse to handle the settlement for my car or the related property damage?
Under Georgia law, when someone damages your personal property you are entitled to compensation. Frankly, most car accident lawyers will not help clients with this issue because there is no money in it for the lawyer. Unlike injury claims, when someone damages your property you are only entitled to the actual cash value for the property. Typically, this means that the insurance company will pay to have your car repaired. If your car was totaled, you are entitled to fair market value. It is important to note that fair market value is typically far less than you think your car is worth. Insurance companies use the actual sale price of other vehicles (i.e., make, model, year, mileage, etc.) like your vehicle to determine fair market value.
At HS Law, we are happy to assist clients, free of charge, to handle their property damage. We do this for two reasons. First, we want to make sure that you are being paid fair market value, which removes as much stress from you as possible. That is why our slogan is “Don’t Stress, Call HS!” Second, during the property damage portion of your claim, insurance companies may gather harmful information about you or the facts of your case that it can later use to deny paying your more valuable injury claim. Insurance companies will frequently tell you that you must submit to a recorded statement before your property damage claim can be paid. Do not fall for this tactic. We have another FAQ addressing recorded statements that we encourage you to read.
Finally, if you settle your property damage without consulting a lawyer, you may be giving up potentially very valuable derivative claims that you are not even aware exist. Bottom line: If the lawyer you consult with will not help you with your property damage, he or she is not the right lawyer for your injury claim either.
“I hired HS Law to help me and my family with a car crash. The team got my cases settled fast and for WAY more money than I expected! I highly recommend HS Law and its lawyers.”
“HS Law was really incredible to work with. I can’t recommend the firm enough! Always kept me up to date with my case and handled everything very professionally. I would recommend using this law firm to anyone I know! Thanks a ton guys!”