Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident Settlements

When people suffer injuries in a car accident, they want to know what compensation – if any – they can expect. Each case is different, of course, so there is no way to predict the outcome. But The Law Office of John R. Colvin has prepared some information that may be helpful if you have questions about car accident settlements. And if you’ve been injured in a car crash, call our office today to request a free case consultation: 1-931-962-1044.

What steps are involved in the car accident settlement process?

When a person files a claim for accident-related damages or injuries, an insurance company will review the facts of the accident, such as police reports and medical records. Insurance adjusters may also delve into the claimant’s personal history, including their income, work history, and previous medical records.

Will I have to go to court to get my settlement?

Many insurance settlements are negotiated without the parties’ ever setting foot in a courtroom. However, if insurers deny your claim, or if the settlement would be insufficient to cover your losses and injuries, it may be necessary to file a court case. Accidents that involve multiple drivers may also end up in court, because there may be disputes about the level of fault for each driver.

Can I still get a settlement if I am partly at fault for the accident?

Even if you share some fault for a crash, you could still be entitled to a settlement check. Tennessee law allows for comparative fault, which means that as long as you are not more at fault than the other driver or drivers, you could still get compensation.

How long does it take to get a settlement check?

With simple accidents that don’t involve injury, it could be only a matter of weeks until an insurance company issues a settlement check. But when injuries are involved, insurance companies will want to see evidence of medical costs, and they may hire their own experts to conduct a review of that evidence. So it could take several months for you to receive a payout.

How much money can I get from the other driver’s insurance?

If the accident was the other driver’s fault and that driver is insured, you may be able to collect the maximum bodily injury liability benefit under that driver’s insurance. This type of coverage specifies a maximum benefit per accident and per person. So, for example, if a motorist carries bodily injury liability coverage of $100,000 per accident/$50,000 per person, you would be limited to collecting $50,000 if you and your passenger both suffered crash injuries.

Do all drivers have insurance?

All states require drivers to have insurance, but many people disregard that law. The Insurance Research Council published a study in 2011 that revealed Tennessee was one of the five states with the highest number of uninsured drivers.

What happens if the driver who caused my injuries doesn’t have insurance?

Sometimes, there may be other ways to pursue a settlement. For example, if an intoxicated driver causes a crash and injures someone, and that driver had just been drinking at a bar, the bar might be liable for damages if your attorney can prove the staff either knew or should have known the person was intoxicated yet continued to serve drinks to that person. Also, if your personal auto policy also carries uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage a claim can be against such a policy for the injuries and damages caused by the uninsured driver.

What types of damages are awarded in car accident lawsuits?

The court can award compensatory damages, which are based on your actual financial losses. Punitive/exemplary damages may also be awarded if the plaintiff’s attorney can show the driver who caused the crash acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly. (The cap on punitive damages is the lesser of $500,000, or two times the amount of compensatory damages.)

Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement?

While one should always contact a tax professional with their specific tax questions, as a general rule most settlement funds are not taxable; however, if you receive compensation for lost wages, the Internal Revenue Service taxes that money as if it were actual income.

Do I have to pay up-front for an attorney to help me with my case?

Most personal injury attorneys work on contingency, meaning their fee comes out of any settlement you may receive. A contingent fee arrangement allows for an injured party to pursue an action without having to pay an attorney in advance for representation. Also, if you receive compensation for lost wages, you should contact a tax professional about being able to deduct attorney fees from your income in order to reduce your tax burden.

Get the Answers You Need

If you have questions about your car accident case or about how to pursue a settlement, contact John R. Colvin online or at 1-931-962-1044.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama