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.
- Page 3
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.
What are the biggest considerations that can affect my pedestrian accident claim?
People who are struck by cars while on foot are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries, and these victims are not always fairly compensated for their losses. The details and circumstances off the accident play a large part in whether the pedestrian will receive fair payment from an insurer or an at-fault driver.
Factors That Affect Compensation for a Pedestrian Accident
Pedestrian accidents have all of the same considerations as other injury cases, but they also involve specialized factors such as pedestrian laws and an additional duty of care on the part of the driver. As a general rule, the factors that are most likely to influence a pedestrian’s car accident settlement include:
- The type and extent of injuries. Pedestrians do not enjoy the same crash protection as drivers, and they rarely walk away from a collision. The greater the injuries suffered in the accident, the more potential compensation the pedestrian may be owed.
- The amount of lost income. The amount of time that a victim was unable to work due to the injury or recovery should be reimbursed.
- The extent of your medical treatment. If the accident caused you to undergo surgery, suffer painful physical rehabilitation, and require visits to specialists, your injuries may carry a higher value to insurers and injury courts.
- Details of the crash. The majority of pedestrian accidents involve vehicles, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles. The type of vehicle that struck you, as well as the speed at which the vehicle was traveling and the condition of the driver, will likely affect the outcome of the case.
- Your own auto insurance coverage. The type and amount of insurance that you were carrying at the time of the crash will likely affect your case (especially if you are having trouble collecting payment from an insurer).
- Liability for the accident. Tennessee accident fault laws prevent victims from collecting compensation if they are mostly to blame for an accident. In a car-pedestrian crash, pedestrians are rarely assigned the majority of fault for an accident, but they can still see a reduction in damages based on their portion of fault.
- Criminal charges for the driver. If the driver was speeding, drinking while driving, or otherwise breaking the law at the time of the crash, the pedestrian’s case is much stronger. A charge issued to the driver is related to fault and can make the driver’s portion of blame rise significantly (especially if the driver is convicted).
- Long-term effects of the accident. Pedestrians who suffer permanent complications of the accident, such as paralysis, disfigurement, disability, inability to return to pre-injury lifestyle, inability to earn a living, inability to live independently, or loss of enjoyment of life can be owed a significant amount in the form of pain and suffering damages.
- Death of the victim. If a person loses his or her life due to a pedestrian accident, the family has the right to file a wrongful death action instead of a personal injury claim. Family members can collect payment for the loved one’s lost future income, funeral and burial, medical bills, and other losses the victim suffered between the time of injury and death.
Why Pedestrians Should Seek Legal Advice After a Crash
The first step for many pedestrians injured by vehicles is to file a claim with the driver's insurance company. It is an insurance adjuster’s job to pay out as little as possible in each claim, and they have many tactics they use to reduce the amount given to victims. Firstly, they often gather as much information as they can that could be used to reduce the payout, such as taking a recorded statement from a victim who has not fully recovered. Second, they may comb through the victim’s social media to find pictures or messages from the victim that can devalue the claim, such as a post to friends and family using the words “I’m fine.” Finally, they may offer an extremely low settlement to a severely injured victim, allowing the victim to trade fair compensation for a fast payment.
If you have been hurt in a pedestrian crash, the attorneys at GriffithLaw can get you the amount you deserve for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have us 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.
How is my motorcycle crash claim different from other accident cases?
In Tennessee, the same laws apply to crash cases whether they involve motorcycles or passenger cars. However, there are a great many additional factors that must be considered in cases where a motorcycle rider has been injured, including who may be held liable and how much each party needs to prove to win compensation. If your attorney does not specifically handle motorcycle crash cases, he may overlook the importance of these differences, resulting in less compensation than you deserve.
Why Motorcycle Accidents Differ From Other Injury Cases
Motorcyclists are over ten times more likely to die in road accidents than drivers of motor vehicles. Nearly 100,000 people are injured every year in motorcycle accidents in the United States, many of whom are often under-compensated for their crash costs due to:
- Severity of injuries. The cost of injuries in motorcycle accident cases is often much higher than in accidents involving two vehicles. Without the safety of steel frames, seatbelts, airbags, and other safety features, motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to injury. It is not uncommon for a motorcyclist to suffer broken bones, traumatic head injury, or loss of a limb in a crash where the driver walks away with minor bumps and bruises.
- Road designs and hazards. The design and condition of a road is more important for a biker than it is for a driver. Ice and debris on the road can be perilous for motorcyclists, while blind corners and uneven terrain make the odds of a motorcycle accident much more likely. Many bikers are unaware that road designers and municipalities can be held liable for causing their accidents.
- Stigma against riders. Many people wrongly perceive motorcyclists as risk-takers or unsafe riders. Unfortunately, this may cause a judge or jury to see the biker as playing more of a role in causing the accident than he or she is responsible for, lowering the amount of compensation awarded.
- Fault considerations. Tennessee’s fault system in injury cases is one of modified comparative negligence, meaning a victim can only recover damages if he is 49% or less to blame for the accident. Motorcyclists are often too injured to recover evidence at the scene, record the names of witnesses, or give police statements at the time of the crash, sacrificing vital evidence that can be used to prove their innocence.
- Insurance company tactics. As motorcycle crashes tend to have higher injury costs, insurance companies are more likely to deny and underpay claims made by motorcyclists. In addition, adjusters are well aware of the public’s bias against motorcycle riders, making it easier for them to pressure victims into accepting less than their claims are worth.
- Manufacturing and repair defects. Many motorcycle accidents are a result of a problem with the overall design of the bike or the quality of its components. If the motorcycle was in some way defective, the rider can pursue a case against the person responsible (such as the maker of the bike, distributor of the defective part, or someone who performed inadequate repairs). Unfortunately, many riders repair their motorcycles as quickly as possible after a crash, destroying vital evidence that could be worth thousands in an injury case.
- Permanent effects. Motorcycle accidents will often result in lifelong paralysis or other permanent consequences for the rider. This may make it impossible for him or her to earn a living, while at the same time causing a sharp increase in medical and living expenses. If the accident is fatal, survivors will have to shoulder the burden of funeral expenses, unpaid medical bills, and other end-of-life costs.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, we can help you get proper compensation for your injury costs, loss of 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.