Common Questions From Accident Victims in Tennessee
The victims of serious injuries and accidents are often left with a lot of questions. In our FAQ, you can get the answers to some of the most common questions our Nashville injury attorneys hear, as well as important information about your rights and legal options if you’ve been hurt in Tennessee.
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When should I settle my car accident case?
In Tennessee, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance pays for any lost income and medical costs arising from an accident, and insurers may offer a fast settlement in order to close the case quickly. However, it is important for victims to realize that they will give up their rights to any additional claims stemming from the same accident once they accept a settlement, so they should weigh their options carefully before agreeing to a deal.
Factors to Consider Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement
If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, it is likely that the insurance company responsible for covering your crash costs will offer you a settlement to resolve your case. Insurers and injury victims can negotiate settlement amounts throughout the claims process and even during a trial, and the vast majority of cases will be settled before ever proceeding to court. It may even be to your advantage to settle, as it allows you to end the dispute without taking the risk of losing at trial.
That said, before you accept or refuse a settlement offer, you should take into account:
- Whether your injuries are likely to improve. You should never accept a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries. An initial settlement may be offered just a few weeks after the crash, and it may be months before you know whether you will be able to return to work or live with permanent limitations. If you feel that an insurance company is rushing you to accept an offer, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
- The sum total of your accident costs. The amount of losses in an accident can quickly spiral into the thousands, especially if the victim has been unable to work. Victims will need to gather many different documents to calculate the amount of lost time from work, lost bonuses and sick days, property damage, hospital and outpatient appointments, mileage to medical appointments, rehabilitation, psychological treatment, and out-of-pocket costs.
- The amount of your future losses. Your injuries may require ongoing medical care, affect your future health, and severely hinder your ability to earn a living. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for victims to estimate the amount of potential financial losses, and they will need to consult with an attorney to properly value their cases.
- Your pain and suffering. Juries have the ability to award pain and suffering (called non-economic damages) of tens of thousands of dollars for emotional, physical, and psychiatric distress caused by the accident. However, most insurers will not offer an amount to cover pain and suffering unless they think the victim has a good chance of winning at trial.
- The strength of your case. Insurers’ offers are based not just on the sum total of your losses, but on the likelihood each side has of winning at trial. If the at-fault driver was intoxicated, has a poor driving record, or has a history of negligent driving, the insurer may be more likely to settle because the jury may side with the victim. Similarly, if your medical records show extensive injuries or permanent disability, the jury may be more willing to award higher pain and suffering damages.
- What your goals are. It is important to determine what the best outcome would be, as well as the minimum amount you would be willing to accept. Some victims may be concerned with their ability to support their families after an injury, while others are looking for closure after losing a loved one in the crash. Settlements often give victims more control over the terms in the outcome of their case, such as requiring a formal apology or other non-monetary compensation.
If an insurance company has offered you a settlement, we can evaluate whether the amount will meet your needs and gather the necessary documents to enter into negotiation. Whether we are able to secure you a settlement or your case proceeds to trial, our experienced car accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What is a focus group and why is it important?
One of the biggest challenges for a victim in a personal injury case is deciding whether to accept a settlement or take a case to trial. It can be tempting to accept a lower settlement rather than risk receiving nothing at all by going to trial—and many victims make this decision based solely on an attorney’s advice. However, our attorneys offer an additional strategy to get our clients the best possible resolution to their case. By convening focus groups, we get an idea of what to expect in court, strengthening both our client’s case and bargaining position.
Our Focus Groups Give Us Additional Insight Into Each Accident Case
At GriffithLaw, we will often gather members of the community together in a focus group to conduct a mock-trial of a case. We may present evidence, visual aids, and testimonies in exactly the same way we would in court, encouraging members of the group to ask questions and offer their opinions. The “jury” will deliberate, offer its decision, and tell us the amount of damages they would award our client if they were assigned to hear the case. This is not something all attorneys do.
It should be noted that a focus group is not a foolproof prediction of what will happen at trial. There are too many variables (including the judge, defense attorney, and jury pool) to predict exactly what will happen in court. That said, focus groups can be invaluable when it comes to testing different presentation strategies, knowing how we should present the information that matters most to jurors, and applying the information we gather to negotiate a better settlement.
For us, a focus group is an opportunity to:
- Get inside the mind of the jury. No matter how much preparation attorneys do, they can never be certain how a jury will feel about any particular case. Focus groups get opinions from a mixed group of people with no relation to anyone in the case, giving attorneys insight on how others might approach and interpret the facts.
- Listen to deliberation. While people involved in a case are not allowed to listen to a real jury deliberate, attorneys may watch focus group deliberations via recording session. By listening to the conversation, attorneys can identify which evidence is most important, which jury members are likely to side with the victim, and major factors that lead the jury to make its final ruling.
- Identify potential weaknesses and biases. Most attorneys will be able to identify the weaknesses in their own cases. However, watching the focus group allows them to see how much weight is given to weaker elements of the case. Attorneys may also notice that some individuals are more likely to be biased against their clients, giving them an insight into jury selection.
- Hone our arguments. An attorney’s presentation of the case can vary greatly before and after a focus group. The focus group’s questions can add depth to the original preparation, or it can inspire us to take a completely different approach to presenting the case.
- Estimate damages. Attorneys can meticulously detail the costs of an injury, but in the end, the amount of damages in a car accident case is up to the jury. It is not uncommon for juries, victims, and attorneys to have varying opinions on what the amount of damages should be, and convening a focus group is an opportunity to get all parties on the same page. For example, if a victim refuses to settle for anything less than $500,000, but is awarded only $200,000 by a focus group, he or she may be more likely to accept a $300,000 settlement when it is offered by an insurer.
- Save time. A focus group offers both attorneys and victims an opportunity to resolve a case more quickly. First, they will know exactly which parts of the case are most relevant to the jury. Second, they will be able to judge with confidence whether a settlement offer is fair. Finally, they will be able to gauge the likelihood of winning the case in court, taking some of the risk out of proceeding to trial.
The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
If I was hurt on vacation in Nashville, do I have to remain here until the incident is settled?
If you suffered an injury as a tourist, you may be tempted to cut your trip short in order to seek medical attention back home. While it may seem like a good idea to go back to your own doctors and pursue an injury case in your home town, leaving the area where you have been injured can cause complications—especially if you live outside of Tennessee.
What Vacation Injury Victims Should Do Before Returning Home
The most important thing you should do after suffering an accident on vacation is to seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Not only will this ensure that it is safe for you to travel without further risk to your health, it documents the state you were in immediately after the accident occurred. This is vital for making an insurance claim or filing an injury lawsuit, as failure to seek medical treatment may be seen as evidence that injuries were not as severe as you claim.
The next thing you should do before returning home is speak with a local injury attorney. Injury laws vary from state to state, and a local attorney will know the applicable procedures and requirements for a slip and fall, car accident, or other injury in Tennessee.
Even if you are not sure you have a case, a local attorney can provide insight and guidance on your next steps, including:
- Notification. Timeliness is an important factor in an injury case, and a local attorney can ensure that you take necessary steps to report the incident as soon as possible. This may include filing a police report, notifying a property owner about a dangerous condition, or making sure the incident has been properly documented before you leave town.
- Investigation. A Nashville attorney will have a familiarity and understanding of the location where you were injured, as well as relationships with local accident scene investigators and credible expert witnesses. The sooner you speak with a local attorney, the more likely it is that he or she will be able to collect and preserve vital evidence, such as pictures of the accident location, contact information for witnesses and property owners, and copies of your emergency treatment records.
- Insurance claims. A local attorney can determine whose insurance policy should cover your injuries, as well as how to file the claim and deal with an insurance agent. An attorney can even deal with the insurer on your behalf, negotiating a fair settlement without the risk of the victim accidentally saying something that devalues the claim.
- Filing suit. If your case cannot be resolved without filling a lawsuit, you can take comfort in the fact that your attorney is licensed to practice law in the city where the accident took place—and as an added bonus, a local attorney will be familiar with the Tennessee court system.
- Recovery. Once you have a local attorney working on your claim, he or she can advise you of the best time to go home without risking the outcome of your case. An attorney will be able to tell you how your actions may be perceived by insurers, allowing you to avoid resistance to your claim. Your attorney should provide you with clear instructions on what your responsibilities are—such as following up on your medical treatment, taking time off work, and staying off social media—allowing you to protect your case after you have returned to your home state.
Injury victims can often return to their home states while their Nashville attorneys go to work, keeping the victim updated on the progression of the case. At GriffithLaw, we are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
If I was injured while on vacation in Nashville, should I wait until I'm back home to hire an attorney?
If you suffer an injury in your hometown, you can take comfort in the fact that you have familiar faces nearby to help—including your own doctors, family, and friends. However, if you are involved in an accident while visiting Nashville on vacation, you may have to rely on strangers for your medical treatment, car repairs, and even advice on what to do next. The best way to learn about your compensation options—and ensure that negligent parties do not take advantage of you—is to seek the advice of an attorney before you leave Tennessee.
Waiting Until You Return Home to Hire an Attorney May Cause Problems
Whether you already have an attorney in your hometown or are planning to look one up when your vacation is over, you should try to meet with a lawyer who practices in the area where the accident occurred. Seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible offers many benefits, including:
- Knowledge of Tennessee injury laws. Most injury laws vary from state to state, and the rules of your home state may not apply in your accident case. Some common mistakes made by out-of-state attorneys include not knowing the applicable statute of limitations for your type of injury or an unfamiliarity with Tennessee’s comparative fault laws.
- Medical and specialist recommendations. As injury cases rely on medical evidence gathered in the hours and days after an accident occurs, victims should seek medical attention before returning home. Your attorney may be able to recommend a local doctor who can evaluate and document your injuries in a timely manner, or may be able to refer you to a specialist after you are released from the emergency room.
- Context for your type of accident. A local injury lawyer will have access to small details that can have a big impact on your case. For example, if you suffered a car accident at a particularly dangerous intersection, the local attorney is more likely to know if this intersection has seen similar accidents and whether a third party (such as a construction crew or landscaping company) may be liable for the crash. Your attorney should also know how much accident cases in the city or county are typically worth, and use commonalities with similar cases to negotiate your settlement.
- Proper jurisdiction. Even if a lawyer back home can advise you on your case, he or she may not be able to file the case in Tennessee court. Attorneys can only file a lawsuit in court if they are licensed to practice law in that state—and in most cases, injuries that occur in Tennessee will be processed through the Tennessee court system.
- Familiarity with state courts and procedures. A local lawyer should understand the state laws applicable in your case, and he or she is likely to have experience with the Tennessee court system. In addition, a Tennessee injury attorney will know which professionals in the area are qualified to perform investigations and offer testimony on your case, such as local accident reconstructionists and medical experts.
- Preserving evidence. Evidence disappears with each passing day after an accident, and it may be impossible to recover once you are back home. A local attorney can photograph or record a video of the accident scene, take note of any defects on the premises or roadway, note damage to vehicles or personal property, document the weather conditions, and obtain contact information for the at-fault party and witnesses.
- Preventing you from making mistakes. Many victims are eager to resolve their cases as quickly as possible so they can return home. Unfortunately, this may lead them to give recorded statements to the insurance company, fail to obtain a copy of the police report, or make additional mistakes that can devalue their claims.
If you have suffered a car accident, truck crash, slip and fall, or other injury while on vacation in Nashville, we are here to help. The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What is a free consultation and how does it work?
People who have been in an accident are often at a significant financial and physical disadvantage, and have no idea what their legal rights are after an injury. In order to give victims a convenient and low-risk way to get specific and relevant information they can use, many personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will offer a free initial consultation, particularly if they take injury cases on a contingency-fee basis.
What Can I Expect During a Free Consultation?
Before an attorney and client can get started on a case, they will need to have a face-to-face meeting to see if they can work together. The attorney will sit down with the prospective client, listen to the client’s story, and offer some initial thoughts and suggestions about the case. A free consultation will usually last an hour, and the prospective client will not be billed for the lawyer’s time.
During your free consultation, you should be able to determine:
- Whether you have a valid claim. The attorney should be able to tell you if you have a case from a legal standpoint, taking state negligence laws and statutes of limitations into consideration.
- Whether you need a lawyer’s help. A good attorney will tell you whether you need a legal representative for your case, or whether you may be able to resolve the case on your own.
- Whether this particular attorney can help you. The best attorney for your case is one who has experience winning your specific type of injury case. If the attorney does not handle your type of accident case, he or she may refer you to someone who does.
- What you should do next. At the end of the consultation, you may sign an agreement for the lawyer to take the case, decide that you do not want to hire the lawyer, or the lawyer may decide that he or she cannot help you.
How Can I Prepare for My Initial Consultation With an Attorney?
The best way to prepare for an initial meeting with an attorney is to bring all documents that could be relevant to your case. This can include medical records, communications between you and an insurance company, wage loss statements, and photos of your injuries and the accident scene. The less time it takes for the lawyer to understand your case, the more time you will have to discuss potential solutions.
In order to get the most out of your free consultation, you should:
- Be honest. An attorney cannot help you if you do not tell him the truth, even if that may include embarrassing or sensitive information. Any contact you have with an attorney is private, so you should answer any questions the lawyer puts to you honestly.
- Make the most of your time. Attorneys have a time limit on their consultations (usually 30 to 60 minutes), so you will want to stay focused to get the best and most relevant information. It may feel good to express your frustration, but sticking to the facts will be more beneficial to your case.
- Listen closely. Lawyers give advice from a legal and professional standpoint, and your best options may not be what you were hoping for. Remember that the attorney is working for your best interests, but can only do what he can considering the facts of the case.
- Ask questions. A lawyer may wish to proceed with your case in a specific way, use acronyms you do not understand, or take one approach over another. If you do not understand something, do not hesitate to clarify details with the attorney.
- Take notes. It helps to write down any notes, such as outlining the different legal procedures, noting how long the case may take to resolve or what your responsibilities are while your case is pending.
- Determine the attorney’s fee. A lawyer should tell you at the first meeting how much he or she charges, as well as what court and filing costs you are expected to cover. If the attorney charges a contingency fee, the percentage of the recovery used to pay legal fees should be spelled out in the fee agreement.
The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What is res ipsa loquitur, and how does it affect my accident case?
Res ipsa loquitur, a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself,” applies to accident cases where negligence is assumed based on the way the injury occurred. Much like negligence per se, this legal doctrine makes it easier to prove that a defendant was responsible for a victim’s suffering.
In a typical accident case, injury victims are required to prove four elements of negligence: the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, the defendant breached the duty of care, the injury was a direct result of the breach, and the victim suffered as a result of the injury. However, if res ipsa loquitur applies, breach of duty of care is assumed and the victim only needs to prove the tenets of the law regarding his injury.
When Res Ipsa Loquitur May Apply to an Injury Case
Res ipsa loquitur is only applied to cases where the injury that occurred could only have been caused by negligence. It is often used in medical malpractice cases, since patients often have little control what happens to them when they are hospitalized, undergoing surgery, or are following a doctor’s recommended course of treatment. For example, there is an express duty of care between a surgeon and a patient—and if the surgeon operates on the wrong body part, he has breached the duty of care.
Res ipsa loquitur may apply to a case if both of the following are true:
- The type of accident that occurred is usually a result of negligence. There are many ways accidents can occur, and res ipsa loquitur relies on the specific manner in which the injury occurred—in other words, whether the defendant could have avoided causing injury by exercising more care. If the injury was inevitable (such as a severe infection in a patient that could not have been prevented), res ipsa loquitur may be defeated.
- The defendant had sole control over the conditions that led to injury. Res ipsa loquitur may not apply if the victim shared some responsibility for the injury. For example, a victim on a cell phone may be distracted at the moment he or she is struck by a driver making an illegal turn. In these cases, the court may reduce the amount of a victim’s damages under the law of comparative negligence.
The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw can examine the negligence laws that apply to your case and advise you of your next steps at no cost to you. Our injury attorneys provide initial consultations free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
How much will it cost to hire an injury attorney?
There are several ways attorneys in Tennessee can bill for their time. Some lawyers charge by the hour, while others will quote a fixed fee for their services. However, injury attorneys will usually work on a contingency basis, a fee arrangement that allows personal injury victims to bring a lawsuit without having to pay for costs up front.
Factors That Determine How Much an Injury Attorney May Charge
Most injury victims do not have the funds to pay an hourly attorney or finance the cost of a lawsuit. In a contingency arrangement, the attorney will only collect his fee if the client gets a settlement or is awarded damages. If the case is successful, the lawyer will receive a percentage of the client’s recovery, giving the attorney an incentive to secure as much as possible for the client.
The amount an injury attorney may charge in a contingency fee arrangement will depend on:
- Contingency percentages. The percentage an attorney may charge in contingency fees varies by state. In Tennessee, contingency fees are capped at one third (33 1/3%) of the total recovery. When a lawyer is retained, he and the client will agree on the percentage before representation and case work begins.
- Filing and court costs. The attorney’s fee is only one of several costs that may be deducted from the settlement. The filing of a lawsuit can involve filing fees, serving summonses and subpoenas, hiring court reporters for depositions, mailing and copying, and other court costs. If the attorney pays for these costs up front, he must be reimbursed for them after the case is won.
- Expenses and fees. Attorneys will need to be reimbursed for any expenses they assumed on behalf of the client to investigate the case, such as obtaining medical records or hiring expert witnesses. Preparing a case for litigation may further increase expenses, making the case more costly if it proceeds to trial.
If your injury has caused significant losses and has affected your ability to earn a living, it may be worth the cost to hire a lawyer. The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw can tell you whether or not you will need an attorney for your claim at no cost to you—and if you choose to hire us, we will not collect any payment unless we are able to recover for you. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case, to learn more.
How can I prove that a driver caused my motorcycle crash?
Motorcycle accidents where the driver walks away without injury can be devastating for a rider. Without the protection of airbags and steel roll cages, a sudden collision can severely injure a motorcyclist and cause months of expensive and painful recovery. In order to hold the driver accountable for his losses, a motorcyclist will have to provide concrete proof of the driver’s negligence.
Your Attorney Can Connect a Driver’s Behavior to the Motorcycle Crash
In addition to collecting and preserving physical evidence after a motorcycle crash, you can help your crash case by detailing the other driver’s actions to your attorney. As you recover from your injuries, your legal team can examine statements made by the driver and witnesses, as well as look for other ways to prove that the driver was at fault.
For instance, an attorney can gather evidence against a driver who was:
- Speeding. Speeding is illegal because it reduces a driver’s reaction times and lengthens the stopping distance needed to safely avoid a collision. Traveling at high speeds also makes it harder to keep control of a vehicle and can be the reason a driver veers into another lane. It is worth checking speed cameras or notations in the police report for evidence that the driver was speeding.
- Drunk or impaired. A driver who operates a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not only be liable for civil damages, but he or she can be charged with criminal activity as well. Your attorney can investigate any illegal activity on the part of the driver, including a history of drunk driving or blood alcohol measurements taken at the scene.
- Driving aggressively. If a driver ran you off the road, was honking at you, or was following you too closely before the accident, there is a good chance that other drivers on the scene noticed this behavior. Witness statements can be taken to confirm that an aggressive driver was disregarding traffic laws, while surveillance cameras may have caught the driver’s actions on video.
- Driving while distracted. Drivers may be distracted by cellphones, radios, GPS devices, food and drinks, or just by talking to someone else in the vehicle. Depending on the type of distraction, an attorney can request cellphone records, passenger testimony, and witness accounts of the driver’s actions immediately before the crash.
- Negligent. Many drivers fully admit their mistakes at the scene of the crash, but are suddenly quiet when it comes to paying for the costs of the accident. What the driver said at the scene can be used in your case, such as the driver claiming he “didn’t see you,” “wasn’t paying attention,” or even that it was “not your fault.” What many drivers don’t realize is that a failure to “see” a motorcyclist is not a valid defense in an accident case, since drivers should be on the lookout for all types of vehicles.
Several Parties May Share Fault for a Motorcycle Crash
It is worth noting that it is not just the driver who can be liable for an accident. Your attorney should investigate all possible causes, including the condition of your bike, condition of your safety gear, and even the road you were traveling on to see if any other party made your injuries worse.
For example, if your helmet is cracked and you suffered a significant head injury, you could have a claim against the manufacturer. If your bike was recently repaired, the parts used or the mechanic’s work can be called into question. Finally, the location of the accident should be inspected for any potholes, debris, maintenance problems, missing guardrails, uneven grading, or other features that could have played a part in the crash.
If you were partially to blame for the crash, you can still recover compensation for your injuries. Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence system allows bikers to be up to 50% liable for their own injuries in an accident case, although the damages they receive are reduced by the percentage of fault. Our motorcycle accident attorneys can investigate the details of your accident and get you the maximum compensation you are owed under the law. Fill out our online contact form today to learn more, or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Can I change lawyers in the middle of my personal injury case?
If you did not hire the right lawyer for your injury case, you are fully within your rights to look for new representation. The amount you will receive in your case—or whether you win or lose—depends significantly on the actions and competence of your attorney. That said, you should carefully consider the reasons you are unhappy with your lawyer before making the change to a different one.
Reasons to Consider Changing Lawyers in a Personal Injury Case
No matter which lawyer you choose, he or she will always be bound by the facts in your case and the laws of the state. If your case is taking longer than expected or your initial settlement offer is lower than expected, this is not necessarily your attorney’s fault. However, your attorney’s actions toward you (or lack of them) are a valid reason for you to change lawyers in the middle of your case.
A good attorney will:
- Make you a priority. Lawyers often work on multiple cases at a time, but that is not a good reason to treat your case as if it is not important. A lawyer who lets phone calls and emails go unreturned or frequently cancels appointments is not invested in your case. If your lawyer forgets your name, the details of your case, or the last action he took to serve you, it may be time to seek other representation.
- Answer all of your questions. With so much riding on the outcome of their case, few clients are content to let everything happen “behind the scenes.” Your attorney should answer all of your questions to your satisfaction, including explaining why he or she is taking certain actions to resolve the case.
- Be qualified to handle your case. You may really like the attorney who drafted your will, but that doesn’t mean he is qualified to handle your accident case. If your attorney has not handled your kind of case before, he or she should be willing to refer you to someone with more experience in that area.
- Respect your decisions. Your attorney is the legal advisor, but you have the final say on what advice you take. Your attorney should listen to all of your requests, including whether or not to accept a settlement.
- Keep you updated. Some cases may take longer than others, but it is your attorney’s duty to keep you advised of the status of the case. Make it clear that you want regular progress updates in addition to an alert whenever an important change is made, and consider it a red flag if these notices taper off.
- Act responsibly and ethically. An attorney who engages in unethical behavior, such as encouraging you to lie about the facts of your case or destroy evidence, should be exchanged for another representative immediately.
How to Handle the Change to a New Attorney
It is best to sign another attorney for your case before notifying the former lawyer that you are leaving. This is not only because your new attorney will handle most aspects of the switch for you, but also because he or she can make sure your case is progressing during the transition. It will also save you the headache of being turned down by attorneys who do not want to take cases that another lawyer has been working on.
When you have chosen your new attorney, making the change involves a few steps:
- Determining the cost of switching. Since most personal injury lawyers are paid from the settlement you receive, your first attorney will not get anything if you switch. Your new attorney should examine your contract with the former attorney to see if there are any fees you will have to pay when you terminate the agreement.
- Signing a retainer agreement. Just as you did with your former attorney, you will have to sign a form to give your new lawyer permission to represent you.
- Sending a stop work letter. Your new attorney must send a "stop work" letter to your former attorney, which requests that he stop working on your case and forward the case file to your new attorney.
- Signing a consent form. Your new attorney will prepare a form for you to sign, called a Consent to Change Attorney, to notify the court and all parties in your case that you have switched attorneys. If your case is already undergoing court proceedings, your attorney will also need to provide notice of withdrawal or substitution of counsel.
If you are unsatisfied with your current attorney, our Tennessee personal injury lawyers can advise you on whether making a switch is the right thing to do for your case. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation, or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Who is at fault if a senior is struck while crossing the street?
Cities pose many dangers for pedestrians, particularly for older citizens. According to a recent study reported by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), car accidents caused 47,025 pedestrian deaths nationwide between 2003 and 2012—and although people over age 65 years account for only 13 percent of the population, they make up 21 percent of pedestrian deaths nationwide.
Why Are Older People More at Risk of Pedestrian Injuries?
By far, the biggest cause of pedestrian accidents for people of all ages is inattentive drivers. Careless driving can include activities such as disregarding stop lines, turning in front of pedestrians who have the right of way, and running red lights. Accident rates increase even further if a driver is distracted by a cellphone or is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48% of crashes that resulted in pedestrian deaths in 2015 involved alcohol use by the driver or the pedestrian.
In addition to all of the usual reasons for Tennessee pedestrian accidents, senior citizens face specific difficulties that place them more at risk of being struck by cars, including:
- Roadway design. Cities are not always designed for the benefit of people traveling on foot. While streets and thoroughfares account for the needs of drivers and cars, pedestrian safety is often treated as an afterthought. Roadway designers and local municipalities may be held liable if the pedestrian crossing was obstructed, if the conditions did not have safety measures such as islands and raised medians, or if there was not sufficient lighting to allow drivers to see the pedestrian for the full crossing.
- Short signals. People undergo many changes in their bodies as they age, and one of these is an inability to move as quickly as they did in their youth. Not only does it take longer for many senior citizens to cross the street, lost mobility makes them less likely to dodge an oncoming car or get out of the way of a speeding bicyclist at the last minute. Older people are also more likely to suffer vision problems and have difficulty hearing, placing them at risk of entering traffic when it is not safe.
- Jaywalking. Although pedestrians are supposed to cross at designated crosswalks, many cross mid-block or at an angle. Some elderly people even choose to jaywalk in order to avoid busy or dangerous intersections, or to give cars more time to see them. Elderly people may be seen to be at fault for jaywalking, even if their crossing point was a conscious choice to help avoid an accident.
- Urban roads. The majority of pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas and involve vehicles traveling between 35 and 40 mph. Longer and wider highways and faster-moving traffic make it nearly impossible for older people to cross the road before the lights begin to change—and the cars on these roads are likely to be going so quickly that they cannot stop in time to avoid a crash.
- Crash injuries. While many pedestrians who are hit by cars traveling under 20 mph will survive the accident, even the effects of a non-fatal crash can prove life-threatening for senior victims. An elderly person who suffers fractured ribs may need intensive care or spend days attached to a ventilator, and seniors may never fully recover from a broken hip or head injury.
Who Is Responsible for a Pedestrian Crash With a Senior Citizen in Tennessee?
In many cases, both a driver and a pedestrian will share some portion of fault for an accident. Under Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence laws, a victim may be determined to be up to 50 percent liable for a crash and still receive damages from the other party. However, the amount a victim can receive will be reduced by the percentage of liability for the accident. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but are 30 percent at fault, you will only receive $70,000 in damages.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, we can help you get the payment you deserve for your injuries, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have the attorneys at GriffithLaw explain your rights in your free case evaluation, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.