Maryville Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Attorneys
Help dealing with car insurance companies after an accident in Blount County
In spite of the extreme inconvenience of an auto accident, most drivers experience some degree of comfort knowing that they may obtain a settlement from the insurance policy of the motorist who caused the accident. But when the other driver fails to produce an insurance card at the accident scene — and you do not carry uninsured motorist coverage under your policy — you may face out-of-pocket costs for an accident you did not cause.
According to the Insurance Research Council, in 2015, about 13% of U.S. motorists carried no insurance coverage, and Tennessee uninsured motorists rates were even higher at around 20 percent. The experienced Maryville uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) attorneys at Shepherd & Long help accident victims pursue compensation from their own insurers when they cannot rely on the liable party’s insurance to cover the expenses of their injuries and property damage.
Tennessee financial responsibility laws
Under Tennessee law, all people involved in a motor vehicle accident must be able to provide proof that they have the ability to pay damages, regardless of liability for an accident. According to the State Department of Revenue, a driver can show proof of financial responsibility in the following ways:
- An auto liability insurance policy with minimum liability limits of $25,000 for each injury or death per accident, $50,000 for total injuries or deaths per accident, and $15,000 for property damage per accident
- Posting a bond with the Department of Revenue for $65,000
- Making a cash deposit with the Department of Revenue for $65,000
However, since a number of drivers choose to flout the law, purchasing underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage can help protect you if you become involved in an accident. Our Maryville car accident attorneys can explain more.
Car accidents cost the U.S. economy about $230.6 billion every year – an average of $820 per person.
What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
Even though all drivers are required to have insurance, many simply choose not to and take to the roads anyway. Purchasing uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage gives you protection in the event you’re hit by a driver whose insurance won’t cover the extent of your losses, or who has no insurance at all. Most UM/UIM policies match your liability coverage.
You should note that Tennessee allows you to waive your UM/UIM coverage – don’t do this. If you experience a hit and run, for example, you may be stuck paying your expenses out of pocket. Your UM/UIM coverage also kicks in if:
- You suffer injuries in an accident while driving your car, as a passenger in your or any car, or as a pedestrian
- A relative or member of your household is injured in an accident while driving your car or as a passenger in your car
- A person is injured in an accident while riding in or driving your car with permission
In order to activate the UM/UIM portion of your policy, you must show your insurance company that the other driver was underinsured at the time of the accident. You can obtain this through a letter from the other party’s former insurance company. Our auto insurance attorneys can negotiate this for you to ensure the process is done properly and efficiently.
Can you help me handle my car accident insurance claim?
Insurance claims typically represent the quickest means of recovering losses when you sustain minor-to-moderate injuries after an accident. But, while many claims are processed without a hitch, injury victims can face delays, reductions and even total denial of valid claims. When working with our clients, we sit down, examine your case and personal circumstances, and provide informed guidance on how to deal effectively with insurers to reduce the likelihood of issues down the road.
The following tips can help preserve your rights to the compensation you deserve:
- Protect your rights after the accident. Ensure you collect the contact information of all drivers or witnesses involved in the accident, including police reports. If you are able, take photos of the scene, including road conditions and damage to the vehicles. Keep all records of medical treatment and other expenses related to your injuries and losses.
- Meet with an attorney before calling in your claim. Insurance companies focus on protecting their bottom lines, rather than making sure you receive full compensation. We understand the tactics insurance adjusters use in attempt to get you to admit fault, and can advocate on your behalf to ensure you secure the compensation you are owed.
- Think before you speak when filing your claim. Whether you handle the claim in writing or by phone, the words you use can make a difference to the success of your claim. Stick to describing the events that led to the car accident and what happened during the accident. Do not offer your opinions, and avoid any statements that the adjuster might interpret as an admission of fault.
- Do not arrange for repairs until the adjuster gives permission. Most insurers want to examine damaged property before you repair it, so leave your vehicle in the condition it’s in post-accident. Of course, if you suffer injuries, you need to seek immediate medical attention, but retain receipts.
- Do not sign any type of settlement agreement unless you know it fully covers your expenses. Insurers often offer quick settlement agreements to tempt you to put the matter behind you as soon as possible, but beware – these offers may not fully cover your expenses. As soon as you sign anything, your signature closes out your claim, leaving you without recourse if your injuries worsen in the future. Do not sign unless you know the offer fully meets your needs – the attorneys at Shepherd & Long can review the offer to determine its fairness. Further, we will intervene on your behalf if the offer is too low.
- Keep records of all transactions. Ask for a recording or transcript of claims filed by phone. Make notes about all your interactions with the insurance adjuster, and retain originals or copies of all information and evidence you submit in writing. We can also assist you with this process.
When an uninsured or underinsured driver is liable for your accident, your only recourse may be to seek compensation from your own insurance company. A claim typically provides fair compensation when you carry coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists, but your insurer may delay, reduce or deny your claim if you do not carry this coverage.
Our Maryville accident lawyers have extensive experience negotiating and intervening between injury victims and their insurance carriers. We understand how insurance companies operate, and we know how to help convince your carrier to pay your expenses.
Experienced Maryville underinsured and uninsured motorist claims attorneys
You should never have to pay out-of-pocket when you suffer injury and property damage in a collision caused by another driver. Nevertheless, if an uninsured motorist caused your accident, you may not receive the help you need from your own insurer. The car accident attorneys at Shepherd & Long, P.C. can help level the playing field between you and a powerful insurance company. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call us at 865-982-8060 or fill out the contact form. We regularly represent clients in Madisonville, Oak Ridge, Lenoir City and throughout East Tennessee.
We handle personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. You pay no attorney fees until we successfully obtain compensation for you.