Sometimes Chattanooga traffic can be a nightmare. Lanes stalled for miles on end, red lights that never seem to turn green, and worst of all, a car crash.
Car wrecks in Chattanooga are all too common, particularly during the morning and evening commute. There are times when the crash can be handled between the insurance companies with little to no stress, but sometimes you may need a lawyer depending on how severe the crash is and who is involved. Meeting with a lawyer for the first time can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some suggestions as to what to research and what evidence to gather before meeting with your lawyer. Following these tips will ensure that you have a successful first meeting and will help you gain more confidence as you embark on this legal journey.
Gather Facts About Your Case
Try to gather and present every single fact about the case that you can. Document the time and place, put together a list of all who was involved, describe what the weather was like, etc. Make sure you also specify what type of accident you were involved in. Every detail you gather and present can be a detail that helps you achieve the results that you are looking for. Even if the detail seems mundane, document it and present it to the lawyer. Researching and gathering every little detail before meeting with your lawyer will help your lawyer create a narrative about your case that can help you achieve your objective.
Have the Right Documents and Evidence Ready
Be sure to gather and research all necessary documents ahead of time. This includes gathering your insurance papers, photos of the accident, the crash report, as well as any documents you received from the towing company or mechanic.
Having all of your documentation gathered will help your lawyer build your case in your favor.
Check to See if There is Conflict of Interest
Once again, when you meet with your attorney, make sure that you have a list of people involved with the case. This list can include other people who were in the accident, witnesses, or even the people who towed your car; everyone you can think of that you met on the day of the accident or dealt with after the accident should be placed on this list. Bring the list and ask the lawyer if they represent anyone on it. If they represent one or more of the names on the list, this could impede their ability to represent you ethically.
If the lawyer is representing someone else involved in your case, then chances are they will not be able to help you get the justice that you are seeking.
Come Up with a Clear Objective
What is your reason for seeking legal services? What do you want to get out of this case? Presenting a clear objective during the first meeting will be of great help to the lawyer because they can then map out a course of action to help you get the result that you are looking for.
Prepare a List of Questions
Before meeting with a lawyer for the first time, it is expected that you will have a lot of questions. Before the meeting, sit down and come up with a list of the questions that have been swirling around in your mind. Some car crash related questions can include:
- Have you worked on a case like this before?
- What will happen if I am at fault?
- What questions should I ask my insurance company?
- What are the chances that I will achieve my objective?
Coming prepared with proper questions about your case will give off a good impression to the lawyer. It shows that you are taking this case seriously and that you take the lawyer seriously as well. It will also help put you more at ease once you and the lawyer start having a conversation based on the questions.
Meeting your lawyer for the first time after being involved in a car crash in Chattanooga does not have to be a fear inducing experience. Contact Dennis and King, if you’re in need of a lawyer. Let us fight for the justice you deserve.
Chattanooga has recently voted in favor of redacting personal information when releasing accident reports after a federal lawsuit challenged the effectiveness of an ethics rule that requires attorneys to wait at least 30 days before contacting people who were involved in serious car crashes. Many believed that the original law was not serving its purpose because attorneys were contacting victims of accidents in as little as five days following a car wreck in Chattanooga.
Personal information such as driver’s license numbers, names, and addresses will only be provided to people involved in the accidents, the lawyers of the people involved in the crash, and to insurance companies. Anyone requesting the information has to be able to establish and prove that they are indeed entitled to the information. People who request the information for wrongful purposes, such as solicitation, could face misdemeanor charges. Violators could spend a maximum of 11 months and 29 days behind bars.
The lawsuit was filed in September after a woman who was involved in a car crash received a call from a medical company offering to refer her to an out-of-town attorney just a few days after her car accident.
Many people are still confused about what this new law means for them and the benefit they will receive from this new protection.
If you have recently been involved in a car crash in Chattanooga, this new law means that your personal information is safe from anyone who is looking to profit off of your accident. It is common practice that out-of-town law firms will attempt to try to represent you after an accident. Often times, these law firms will get your information from public crash reports or from hospitals.
Victims of the Woodmore bus crash that occurred in Chattanooga last year were hounded by unethical out-of-town lawyers (and some fake lawyers) who kept trying to get the victims to file a wrongful death suit. Many out-of-town attorneys try to contact victims because it means that they can charge higher rates, citing travel expenses or any other extra time that is spent researching the laws of the area the client lives in. Not only does this become more expensive for you, but the attorney may not even be effective when they represent you because they are unaware of how different the local laws might be.
There have also been cases where fake attorneys have tried to cash in on victim’s grief. A mother whose child was killed in the Woodmore school bus crash was told by a local funeral home that she would be referred to an attorney through the funeral home. The mother was forced to sit down with the fake lawyer in the funeral home and sign a fake legal agreement. This trickery was possible because the personal information of the victim was readily available to the public in the form of crash reports.
The redaction of personal information in car crash reports will protect you. No longer will you have to worry about unsolicited offers coming in from out-of-town attorneys or from opportunistic professionals who are looking to capitalize on your stressful situation. It is your right to be protected from unethical business practices that try to pry on you in your time of need.
If you have any questions about Chattanooga’s new redaction laws or questions regarding what to do after a serious car accident, contact Dennis & King today for a free consultation.
Many of our clients want to know how they can maximize their compensation. It’s a simple question to answer but it can be tricky to put it into practice. This article will explain some tips on how you can make sure you’re getting the amount you deserve from your personal injury case.
Hire a Lawyer
First and foremost, you’ll need a lawyer to help you with your case. While many people worry about the costs of a personal injury lawyer, the truth of the matter is that many insurance companies don’t pay out what you’re really owed unless you have legal backup. The extra money that you get from having a legal advocate on your side in your case can more than make up for the money you’ll have to pay for the service. In addition, most personal injury lawyers work on contingency. This means that you only pay them if you win your case.
Follow the Rules
Next, you need to ensure that you are following the law. Anything that you do that breaks any laws will jeopardize your claim. For instance, failing to trade information with the other driver after an accident could be used against you. You might also have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. A lawyer can help you avoid these problems.
A trickier area is following the rules of your insurance company. Complying with your policy’s rules is usually a good thing, but many insurance companies will use tricks to try and get you to settle before a lawyer can look at your case more thoroughly. Your lawyer can interact with your insurance company on your behalf and give you instructions and advice so you can get the amount of money you truly deserve.
Lawsuits all come down to evidence, which is why documentation is crucial for maximizing your compensation. The more information you can give to your lawyer, the better your case will be. Here are some things you can do:
At the scene:
- Take photos of all damage on both vehicles and the general scene. Your smartphone camera will suffice.
- Note the number of people in the other vehicle, as well as the vehicle tag number.
- Get the name, contact information, and insurance information of the other driver as required by law.
- Take photos of your injuries, if possible.
- File a police report. Be honest about your current condition.
- If your injuries are severe and you can’t get this information until after you’re in the hospital, contact the police to get a copy of their report.
- As soon as you are able, start keeping a journal of your injury progress. Note down the day and time of your entries and record things like what you did for your case (e.g., call a lawyer), any doctor visits and insurance company interactions, etc.
- Also record your subjective feelings of pain and mental distress. Are things getting better or worse?
- Also record your physical and mental struggles at work and home. If you wish to prove a pain and suffering claim, this information is invaluable.
- Any receipts, bills, or other financial-related information from repair shops and medical professionals.
- Any communications at all from your insurance company.
- Anything from your employer about accommodations they have to make for you to continue work.
- Medical records.
- Anything else your lawyer recommends you retain as possible evidence for your case.
Collecting all this information may seem like an extra burden on top of the pain you’re feeling, but this documentation is the way to prove that your injuries are as bad as you say they are. The more evidence the court has, the greater the chances for higher compensation.
If you have more questions regarding what to do after an accident, contact Dennis & King today for a free consultation.
Every year, Chattanooga gets an average of 2”-4” of snow. That may not sound like a lot, but consider the treacherous mountain passes coming down into the city. That snow could turn into ice.
In 2016, there were around 70 crashes in the same day due to icy conditions according to the Times Free Press. Winter will be coming sooner than you think. This is a good time to start thinking about winterizing your vehicle and remembering the following safety tips to stay safe on the roads in winter weather.
Maintain Your Vehicle
The first thing to do is to keep your vehicle maintained, especially your brakes and tires. Bald tires will make your car harder to stop in wet or icy conditions. Bad brakes make it hard to stop quickly. Both of these can cause an accident that could easily be fatal. If you’ve been neglecting this all summer because of the dry and clear conditions, now is the time to get those repairs done.
Check your windshield wipers and replace them if they are getting worn out. In snowy or rainy conditions, your wipers help you see clearly in front of you. You might also want to put no-freeze fluid in your windshield washer reservoir to help melt snow and ice buildup.
Finally, don’t go out on the road if your windows aren’t clear of snow and ice. Keep an ice scraper in the front of your vehicle.
Practice Cold Weather Driving
Southerners get a lot of hassle from our northern neighbors for their inexperience driving in severe winter weather, but we get enough snow and ice here that knowing how to handle these situations is important.
If you feel your car start to skid, turn your wheel in the direction of the skid. This will force the vehicle’s front tires to drag against the direction you’re going and bring you out of it.
Know what kind of brakes you have. Anti-lock brakes are standard on most vehicles these days. With this kind of braking system, it’s okay to stomp on the brakes to come to a stop. But in older vehicles or ones with a broken ABS sensor, the brakes must be pumped to avoid a lock-out. This is a very dangerous situation where the brakes are applied but won’t slow the car down.
Stopping distances are much further on ice and snow, especially in the passes where the road grade makes stopping distances longer. Don’t be afraid to put a lot of distance between yourself and the car in front of you in dangerous conditions.
Winter weather also means that you should double down on your usual safety procedures. Never drink and drive. Keep a sharp eye out for pedestrians, especially in snowy conditions. And if you plan to go on a long car trip, stop every three hours for a break.
Dennis & King encourages you to practice safe driving during the upcoming winter season. It is one of the most dangerous times of year to be out on the roads. Follow these safety tips and you’ll go a long way to preventing a crash.
It’s a nightmare no injured driver wants to face. Everyone on the road is supposed to have auto insurance to help cover the costs of injuries. The other driver’s insurance company is supposed to provide compensation. But what happens if the other driver doesn’t have insurance? How do you get the money you need to pay for hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, repairing your vehicle, and all the other troubles that go along with a personal injury situation?
Here are the steps you can take:
Get Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
All insurance companies are required to offer you uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This is the first step in getting your bills paid if you’re injured by someone without insurance. The State of Tennessee requires motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Unless you reject it in writing, there is a good chance that you can just contact your insurance company and invoke this part of your policy to get compensation. Generally, the amount that can be covered with the uninsured motorist coverage is the same amount that’s covered in your standard liability insurance.
If you have to use this insurance, you may have to pay a deductible. Assuming that the other driver was at fault, you can then sue the driver for your deductible amount in small claims court. A personal injury attorney can help you prepare your case if you plan on suing the driver.
Collision coverage covers the costs of vehicle repairs in the event that the other driver cannot pay enough to cover it. It does not cover the costs of any injuries. But if your car is totaled, then collision coverage can help you get the money you need to get a new vehicle. However, collision coverage is an extra purchase for your policy so it will raise your premium to add it.
What if it’s Not Enough?
If you only have the minimum coverage and your injuries are extensive or long-lasting, your coverage may not be enough to deal with all of the costs. In these cases, you may need to turn to the help of a personal injury attorney to sue the responsible party directly. Tennessee is an at-fault state. In other words, if you can prove to the court that the other driver was at fault in the accident, then they will be held responsible.
However, if the other driver isn’t carrying insurance they may not have enough assets to seize through a lawsuit to make it worth your while. A consultation with a personal injury attorney can help you understand your options, as well as help you determine whether or not it would be worth the time and money to file a suit. You have up to one year after the accident for personal injury claims and three years after the accident for property damage claims, so don’t feel like you have to rush this decision. Start with your insurance company first, then contact an attorney.