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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What do I need to prove to win my car accident case?
No matter how straightforward the details of your case may seem, you will still have to make a clear case of negligence in order to get compensation after a crash. It all comes down to what you can prove and what you use to prove it, making the quality of your evidence vital to winning your case.
How to Prove Negligence in an Injury Claim
Most state laws provide a framework of what must be proved in order to recover compensation in an injury case. In order to prevail in a Tennessee car accident claim, you will have to prove the following:
- You were owed a duty of care. The other party who is named in your lawsuit must have owed you consideration for your safety, called a “duty of care.” A driver who struck you owes you a duty of care, since all road users have a duty to obey local traffic ordinances and drive as safely as possible. If you are suing someone other than a driver, you must establish that he or she owed you a duty of care.
- The negligent party breached the duty of care. Once you have shown that someone owed you a degree of safety, you must show that his or her actions were in violation of that duty. This proof hinges on showing that a reasonable person would not have acted as the negligent party did. Common breaches of care can include distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, tailgating, or road rage.
- The breach of care resulted in your injury. It is not enough to show that a driver was negligent, or even that a driver’s negligence caused an accident. You must also prove that the negligent party’s actions directly caused your injuries and property losses. This may be difficult for a victim who suffered aggravation to a previous injury, as they will have to show that the accident was the primary cause of the injury becoming worse.
- The breach of care resulted in financial losses. In order to recover the costs of an accident, you must prove that all of the losses you are claiming are directly related to the crash. This can include property damage (such as the cost for repairs to a vehicle), costs related to your injuries (such as medical bills and rehabilitation), and income losses (including the wages you were unable to earn while you were out of work).
- You were less than 50% to blame for the accident. Tennessee injury cases rely on a system of modified comparative negligence. Simply put, this means that a victim can recover damages even if he or she shared some of the fault for the accident; however, damages will be reduced by each party’s percentage of blame. In addition, state law requires that accident victims can only collect damages if they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. If you are more than 50% to blame, you will not be eligible to receive any payment in your injury claim.
Evidence That Can Help You Win Your Car Accident Case
All of the evidence you gather should have one goal: proving one (or more) of the factors above. Pictures and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and road conditions are an effective way to demonstrate the extent of injury and financial loss. Physical evidence, such as the clothes you were wearing at the time of the crash, can show the extent of physical and emotional trauma. Police reports are inadmissible as evidence in the state of Tennessee. On the other hand, the reports can be used to track down witnesses, recreate the scene, and serve as leads for gathering other forms of evidence (such as a police officer’s or eyewitness’s testimony). Finally, statements from repair shops and medical providers are necessary to provide an accurate estimate of your accident costs.
If you have been injured in a car accident, we can help you collect evidence of 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.
Are there laws protecting pedestrian on curbs and crosswalks in Tennessee?
Yes, and for good reason. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), about 5,000 pedestrians are killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles every year, and nearly ten times that number suffer injuries in these kinds of accidents. Tennessee has an unfortunately high rate of pedestrian accidents, with drivers overwhelmingly at fault for causing injuries. But what people may not realize is that there are also laws governing a pedestrian’s actions near roadways, and failure to comply with these laws can make it more difficult to get injury compensation.
Pedestrian Laws for Safe Crossing and Road Use in Tennessee
Tennessee law states that pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and driveways. However, pedestrians must exercise reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others while crossing the road or traveling in traffic lanes. Failure to follow safety laws can result in civil infractions against the pedestrian, and can also affect the amount that he or she is awarded an injury case.
For example, injury cases may be more complex if they involve:
- Walking along the roadside. Under Tennessee law, it is not legal for a pedestrian to walk or run in the road if an adjacent sidewalk has been provided. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians are required to walk facing the direction of traffic and as far onto the shoulder of the road as possible. In some cases, pedestrians are forced into the road because the sidewalk is under construction, a store has blocked the path with signage, or a lack of maintenance has made the sidewalk unusable. An attorney should examine the facts of your case to determine if one of these parties may share legal responsibility for the accident.
- Pedestrian signals. Tennessee law requires that all pedestrians who have a Walk signal proceed across the roadway responsibly, and stay on the curb when the Don't Walk signal is present. No pedestrian may start to cross the roadway if the Don't Walk signal has started flashing.
- Crossing outside of an intersection. It is not illegal for a pedestrian to cross a roadway outside of a designated intersection. However, pedestrians crossing mid-block are required to yield the right-of-way to vehicles traveling on the roadway. Pedestrians are forbidden from leaving a traffic island or curb into the path of an oncoming vehicle unless the vehicle has enough distance to stop safely.
- Crossing in front of a vehicle. Pedestrians must always look both ways before starting across the roadway. They are also required to cross at least ten feet in front of a vehicle that is in the process of dropping off passengers (such as school buses, city buses, and even passenger cars). Pedestrians who do not follow this law can be charged with a traffic offense and be ordered to pay fines.
- Soliciting. State law prohibits any soliciting on public streets, corners, alleys, and other traffic lanes in Tennessee. If you were injured while hitchhiking, asking for financial help, work opportunities, or other contributions while standing on the roadway, you may be found to share fault for the crash.
If a jury believes that a pedestrian’s actions contributed to his injuries, the pedestrian’s damages may be lowered in proportion to the amount of fault. If the pedestrian is found to be more than 50% at fault, he or she may not recover any damages at all. That is why it is vital for pedestrians who have been struck by cars to speak with an accident attorney who is well-versed in traffic law and can investigate the details of your claim.
If you have questions after being injured in an accident, the attorneys at GriffithLaw will listen to your story and explain your rights in your free case evaluation. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to get started, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
How is Wrongful Death Money Distributed Among Family Members?
One of the questions many family members want to know when a loved one is killed by someone else’s carelessness is…. If there is a recovery, how do the various family members split the proceeds?
This is a great question and one that is often litigated. Fortunately, we have a body of law in Tennessee that gives us direction.
Tennessee’s Wrongful Death Law is a creature of statute. This means that the rights of a deceased person are governed not by prior rulings of courts per se (i.e. “common law”) but are determined by the legislature. Unfortunately, the legislature does not foresee every possible occurrence, so we look first to the written law, and then to the cases interpreting that law.
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO SUE?
One of the first things to understand is that there are 2 categories, or classes, of people in wrongful death cases. First, you must identify the proper parties who have the right to bring the lawsuit and control the litigation. Secondly, you must identify all people who have the right to share in the proceeds of that lawsuit. These are not one in the same most of the time.
For example, suppose there is a man who is married, divorced, has 3 adult children, then gets remarried and is living with his second wife at the time he is killed in a wreck caused by a dump truck. Who gets the proceeds from any recovery by the dump truck’s insurance carrier? Who has the right to sue? Is it the children… or the current spouse?
Tennessee law is clear on the “priority” of who can properly bring the lawsuit. That right clearly rests with the surviving spouse. If the surviving spouse does not act, or waives her right to sue, then any of the 3 children can bring the lawsuit. What if the children file the lawsuit right away and the wife brings her lawsuit on behalf of her husband 10 months later, who controls the lawsuit? The wife has the statutory right of control to bring the lawsuit, and if properly filed, will take priority over the children’s claims, which will be dismissed. The surviving spouse has the right to either litigate the claim or to settle in a manner that is binding on the children. Their consent is not material to the outcome of any settlement or decision to proceed to trial. The children also do not have the privilege to employ separate counsel to protect their interest in receiving a share of the wrongful death proceeds.
The children do have a right to “consortium damages” from the wrongful death proceeds. However, this claim is not considered a “separate claim” or an independent cause of action in the case. The children’s claims are merely considered one component of the value of the decedent’s life.
HOW ARE THE PROCEEDS DIVIDED?
If proceeds are obtained in settlement or judgment in a wrongful death claim, how are they divided? Again, the law is clear … Proceeds of a wrongful death action are distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. Foster v. Jeffers, 813 S.W.2d 755(1963) These are the same laws that govern the distribution of the assets of a person’s estate if there is no will. If there is a spouse and no children, the surviving spouse will get 100% of the proceeds. If there is a surviving spouse and 1 child, the proceeds will be split equally. If there are 2 children and a surviving spouse, the proceeds will be divided 1/3 each. The surviving spouse will never receive less than a 1/3 share of the proceeds, with the remainder of funds being divided amongst the number of children heirs.
There is no need for every wrongful death beneficiary to bring a lawsuit or intervene in a lawsuit filed by another beneficiary in order to preserve his or her right to receive a portion of the wrongful death proceeds. Shedd v. Community Health Systems, Inc., (citation omitted).
There are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, if the surviving spouse’s actions played a role in the death of the decedent, he/she may not be able to recover (i.e. murder, drinking and driving contributed to a spouse’s death). Nelson v. Myres, (citation omitted). Prenuptial and ante/post-nuptial agreements may also inadvertently waive the right to share in any recovery proceeds of a wrongful death claim. If the surviving spouse is behind on child support payments, he may not recover until he has brought those payments current, with interest. If one spouse has abandoned the other spouse while still “married” then that person may not share in the proceeds. T.C.A. 20-5-106(c).
These cases are intensely fact specific and there is not always a “one size fits all” approach. If you have lost a loved one through the carelessness of someone else, you may wish to contact one of our firm’s award-winning lawyers, who are constantly battling these exact types of cases on a daily basis, and sit down with us to discuss the facts of your case, and show you exactly what you need to do to protect yourself.
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Why are teen drivers more likely to cause car crashes than other age groups?
All parents want to keep children safe in car accidents, even if the child is the one who is driving. Unfortunately, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S., and teenage drivers have some of the highest accident ratings of any age group.
Teen Driver Behaviors That Put All Road Users at Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,333 teenagers in the United States between the ages of 16 and 19 died in 2015, and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for car accident injuries the previous year. On average, six teenagers die every day as a result of crashes, whether they are behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.
Research from the CDC points to a few key reasons teen drivers are likely to be involved in car accidents:
- Lack of experience. Teen drivers have triple the fatal crash risk of older drivers, in part because they do not have the skills to recognize and avoid road hazards. Teens often spot hazardous situations (such as wet roads or cars stopped on the shoulder) later than more experienced drivers, and they are also more likely to underestimate the dangers of a potentially harmful situation and make a critical error that leads to a crash. The risk of an accident is highest during the first few months after the teen has gotten his or her license, and decreases as the driver gains experience on the road.
- Distractions. Drivers under age 20 have the highest rates of distraction-related fatalities in the nation, especially those who text and use cellphones while driving. In 2015, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) found that 42% of high school students who had driven in the past 30 days admitted to sending a text or email while driving. Students who admitted to frequent texting were also more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as drinking.
- Driving with friends. Researchers have discovered a link between the number of teen passengers and increased crash risk when an unsupervised teenager is driving. Fortunately, Tennessee’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program has rules in place to prevent teenagers who are still learning from carrying too many passengers. Those driving with a learner’s permit may only drive with a licensed driver over 21 in the front seat, and those with an intermediate license (Level II) may only have one passenger in the car.
- Speeding. Teens are likelier to engage in activities that make it difficult to stop suddenly, including speeding and following too closely behind another vehicle. Risk-taking behavior increases with male teen drivers, especially if there are male passengers.
- Weekend and night driving. Teenagers whose licenses no longer have night-driving restrictions are at significant risk of suffering fatal accidents. In 2014, half of all teenage deaths from car crashes took place between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight. Weekends were also particularly deadly, with 53% of fatalities occurring on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
- Drinking and drug use. Over a million high school teens drink alcohol and get behind the wheel every year. One survey from 2015 found that 20% of teenagers admitted to riding with a driver in the previous month who had been drinking alcohol. In 2014, 17% of drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 who were involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher.
- Lax seat belt use. Teenagers have some of the lowest rates of seat belt use when compared with other age groups. A 2015 survey discovered that only 61% of high school students always wear seat belts when riding with another person. Teen drivers with involved parents were twice as likely to wear seat belts regularly.
If you have questions after being injured in an accident, the attorneys at GriffithLaw will listen to your story and explain your rights in your free case evaluation. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to get started, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What laws do Tennessee bicycle riders have to follow?
Bicycles are not just for childhood recreation—they are a form of exercise and even a commuter vehicle for fit and environmentally friendly riders. In Tennessee, bicycles are legally classified as road vehicles, and that status allows riders the same rights and protections as drivers of passenger cars. However, just like driving, bike riding must be done according to state laws—and failure to follow safe riding laws can increase your accident risk and affect your recovery in a bicycle crash case.
Tennessee Laws All Bicyclists Have to Follow
Tennessee classifies a bicycle as any human-powered pedal vehicle with two tandem wheels that is designed to carry one or more people. Some pedal vehicles may be legally considered bicycles if they have more than two wheels, but only if they are used for transport on highways, streets, or other public rights-of-way.
Tennessee traffic laws require all bicycle operators to:
- Ride with the flow of traffic. Bikers are required to ride on the right-hand side of the road in the same direction as traffic. Bikers are required to follow the same laws as cars when riding in traffic, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Use lights and signals. Bikers must use hand signals to communicate their intentions and are required to equip their bicycles with a front-mounted white light and a red rear reflector or lamp that are both visible from at least 500 feet away.
- Adhere to child safety laws. While riders over age 16 may choose to ride without a helmet, all bicycle riders under the age of 16 are required to wear a bicycle helmet on all rides. In addition, any child passengers (those under 40 pounds or shorter than 40 inches) must be in a bicycle trailer or restrained in a child safety seat attached to the frame.
- Ride as the bicycle designer intended. Riders on a bicycle should be seated on or astride the bicycle’s attached seat and carry no more passengers than the number for which the bicycle is equipped. Violation of these laws may be charged as a Class C misdemeanor.
- Never cling on to vehicles. Riders on bicycles, roller skates, sleds, or other rolling devices are forbidden from grabbing or holding onto motorized vehicles in motion at any time. Violators of this regulation may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
- Keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Bicycles are often used as delivery vehicles for newspapers, food orders, and other small items. However, it is a Class C misdemeanor to carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the bike rider from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Equip their bicycles with regulation brakes. All riders have a duty to equip their bicycles with one or two brakes that enable the bicycle to stop within twenty five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour on a dry, level surface.
- Stop at intersections with vehicle detection devices. Many traffic control signals use vehicle detection devices to keep traffic flowing smoothly. However, smaller vehicles such as bicycles may not be detected by these devices, rendering the traffic lights inoperative when only the biker is present in the lane. At these inoperative signals, riders are required to come to a complete stop at the intersection and only proceed after ensuring that the direction of travel is clear.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it may take months or years for you to fully recover from your injuries, all while you are unable to earn a living. You should not have to suffer due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys can listen to your story and explain to you how much your claim may be worth. Contact GriffithLaw today for a free evaluation of your case, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What are the most common kinds of injuries in dog attacks?
Dog attacks can cause a wide range of injuries, and result in hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits every year. Due to the potential for serious infections or complications that occur as a result of the attack, injuries from dog bite incidents should always be taken very seriously, even if they seem minor at first.
Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 368,245 people were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for dog attack injuries in 2001, the majority of whom were children between the ages 5 and 9 years old.
A child may not recognize the dangers of approaching strange dogs, and when they get close to a dog they are typically standing face-to-face. In addition, children often weigh less than some large-breed dogs, and will not be able to outrun the dog who chases after them. As a result, it is often children who suffer:
- Leg, hand, and arm injuries. Many people react to a dog attack by putting their hands out in front of them to protect their faces. Unfortunately, an aggressive dog may latch on to these limbs with a powerful jaw, breaking the skin and tearing through muscle tissue. In some cases, a dog’s bite may be powerful enough to break through the bone.
- Disfigurement. Many victims are left with scars after a dog bite incident. If a dog pulls at an arm or leg for long enough, the skin may tear, requiring surgical intervention to repair the wound. These surgeries almost always result in scars, and can be devastating if they occur on a child’s face. A childhood encounter with a dangerous dog could result in disfigurement that lasts for the rest of a person’s life.
- Emotional injuries. A dog attack is a stressful incident. A victim will experience a great deal of fear and pain, both during the attack and throughout the recovery. There may be long-lasting emotional or psychological trauma, such as a fear of dogs, fear of going outside, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for victims who cannot cope with the emotional pain of the incident. If a victim has suffered scarring, he is more likely to suffer psychological effects, as he must look at a physical reminder of the pain every day. Children may need counseling to understand the anger or fear that they feel, while adults may need many years of therapy or medication to cope with the trauma.
- Infections. Dogs attack with their teeth and nails, both of which are potential breeding grounds for bacteria. Injuries involving lacerations and puncture wounds from a bite can cause dangerous infections, especially if the dog may have had rabies.
- Death. In some cases, a dog attack or bite can be fatal to a victim. A bite on the neck can cause bleeding and trauma from shaking or tossing, resulting in death for young children or elderly victims.
How to Get Payment for Medical Bills After a Dog Bite Incident
Victims often rely on their own medical insurance to pay for the costs of treatment after a dog attack. This may be sufficient to cover minor injuries, but the costs of medication, surgery, and physical therapy can quickly add up. If the victim suffered a prolonged attack or was particularly traumatized by the incident, therapy may be added to the costs of care, bringing the total to tens of thousands of dollars.
If a dog owner did not take proper precautions to protect innocent people from harm, the owner can be held liable for any injuries the dog causes. The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw can help you get the compensation you deserve for medical bills and lost income. Contact our skilled legal team today to begin your free case evaluation, or read through our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What can I expect during car accident mediation with an insurer?
Mediation is a common method used to settle personal injury disputes. It allows people from both sides of the claim to make a case to a neutral third party, who listens and makes a recommendation on the settlement. If both sides agree, the claim can be settled without the need to go to court. If the parties do not agree to a solution in mediation, the case will go to court and the solution will be decided in a personal injury trial.
A Typical Overview of Car Accident Mediation Sessions
Mediation is not mandatory, but is a voluntary process that can help your case reach a settlement more quickly and less expensively. It is often most beneficial to parties who agree on the basic need for the claim, but are in disagreement about the exact amounts that should be paid. If negotiations with an insurer in your injury claim have reached a stalemate, mediation can allow you to show the extent of your losses, giving the insurer an opportunity to raise the amount without being forced to by a judge. We answer some common questions here:
- What will happen? Although every mediation is different, the sessions often take the same basic structure: each party will present his case to the mediator (in the presence of the other party), and each party will get to speak alone with the mediator. Some mediators allow parties to talk directly to each other, with the mediator facilitating the exchange. The mediator uses all of the information gathered to find the ways in which the parties are likely to compromise. There are no rules on the ways that facts may be presented, and nothing either party says during mediation may be used in court or further negotiations after mediation is complete.
- Who pays for it? The costs of mediation are typically divided evenly between the two parties, since neither will argue that they are owed more in negotiation as a result.
- Who is the mediator? Practically anyone can serve as an independent mediator, but the best mediators are those with legal knowledge, such as lawyers or former claims adjusters. It is important to remember that a person hired as a mediator is not an advocate for either party, and should remain unbiased throughout the dispute.
- What are the benefits? Many people opt for mediation because it is much faster, allowing claims to be resolved in a matter of hours instead of weeks or months. It is also typically less expensive and less stressful than going to trial. It also allows a claimant and a claims adjuster to sit in the same room, humanizing a matter that would otherwise just be a set of documents or a file number for the adjuster. These sessions are more informal than a trial, and offer participants direct control over the outcome. Finally, mediation sessions are private and the information presented is confidential, which may not be possible in a trial.
- What are the drawbacks? Mediation may only take a few days to complete, but mediators often charge by the hour, making their services unfairly expensive for injury victims (unlike insurers, who have unlimited funds at their disposal). It may also be difficult to get insurers to agree to mediation, and even harder to get an insurance agent to make a personal appearance at every mediation session.
Insurers have a dedicated team of lawyers to fight and defeat injury claims, and having your own attorney by your side is the best way to protect your right to receive a fair financial award. If you suffered an injury that makes it impossible for you to live your life, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At GriffithLaw, we can listen to your concerns and tell you what your next steps should be in your free evaluation of your case. Contact our skilled legal team today or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Why won't my primary care physician treat my car accident injuries?
Many people are surprised to find that their regular doctors are reluctant to treat their car accident injuries. While your family physician may have a longstanding relationship with you, the truth is he may not be the ideal person to treat these specific injuries—and he may not be willing to handle the legal technicalities that come with them.
Your Family Physician May Not Be the Best Fit for Your Accident Treatment
A family physician may refer patients to specialists when they do not have the experience or equipment to treat widespread injuries. However, many car accident patients will continue to see the specialist even for follow-up evaluations after their injuries have healed, keeping treatment for these specific injuries under the control of one doctor. This is usually better for the accident victim for a number of reasons:
- Timelines. A doctor who treats your injury from start to finish will create a clear timeline of how your injury has progressed. Your first visit should begin with a thorough examination and diagnostic testing (such as x-rays) so the doctor can determine the best course of treatment. The doctor can notate all of his recommendations, such as physical therapy, surgery, medications, limitations, and more as each week goes by, allowing the insurer and the judge in an injury case to see a full picture of how you have been affected by the crash.
- Documentation. Physicians who specialize in car accident injuries are aware of how important it is to keep close records of everything that could affect compensation in your case. All of your injuries must be documented correctly, meaning they should be dated, notated, and have complete and accurate information. Letters, photographs, statements, and other detailed crash-related medical records are key to winning an injury case and getting full compensation from an insurance company.
- Litigation. Any doctor who has treated your accident-related injuries can be called upon to testify if your injury case goes to court. Even if the doctor is not called to testify, he or she may still be asked to give a deposition to the two attorneys in the case. Family doctors often have little experience testifying in open court, and may be unwilling to spend the time it takes in litigation away from his patients. On the other hand, physicians who typically treat crash injuries are usually familiar with the legal process, and they know how to give testimony that will show the true nature of the victim’s injury.
- Billing. Your regular physician probably already has your health insurance information on file to bill the insurer for the costs of your medical care. However, after a car accident, any injury treatments you receive should be billed directly to the third-party insurer from your crash rather than to your own medical provider. Third-party insurers are typically the auto insurance provider of the at-fault driver, and these policies may have rules, limits, and co-pays that differ greatly from your own health insurance. It may seem like a small difference, but billing the wrong insurance company can have a big impact on injury compensation.
Finding the Right Doctor for Your Car Accident Case
It is vital for crash victims to find a physician to treat their injuries who is knowledgeable about car accident injuries and claims. When seeking out a doctor, ask him or her about past experience treating crash injuries, including whether or not he or she has given testimony in court. The doctor should have systems in place to accommodate third-party billing, provide medical documentation at your request, and stay with you throughout the course of your treatment to ensure that your plan for recovery has the best chance of success.
If you have been hurt in a car accident in Tennessee, our injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.
Who can be held liable in a bicycle accident?
While the majority of bicycle accidents are caused by drivers of passenger vehicles, there can be many parties who played a role in causing the crash. The individual who can be held liable for the crash—and therefore, the costs of any injuries or property damage associated with the crash—is the person who's found to be guilty of negligence.
Parties That May Be Held Liable After a Bicycle Accident
Since bicycles don't offer any of the same safety features that cars have to protect individuals from injury, the costs of a crash can be significant. As a result, bikers have to carefully examine the circumstances of the accident in order to determine which entity is liable for the full cost of the damages.
The most common types of negligence in bicycle accident cases include:
- Driver negligence. Driver negligence can be anything from a motorist swerving into a bike lane to leaving the scene after a bicycle hit and run crash. Common negligent actions include driving too close to a biker; opening a car door into a biker’s path; turning in front of a biker; or running a biker off of the road. Motor vehicles are required to maintain a safe space while riding next to or passing bicyclists, obey right of way laws, and to share the road responsibly with all types of vehicles. If your accident involved a car, truck, or other passenger vehicle, it's likely the driver (or the driver’s insurer) will be named in your claim.
- Cyclist negligence. If the biker was performing an unsafe action, he or she may be partly liable for the accident and recover less in damages as a result. Under Tennessee’s comparative negligence laws, a victim who's found to be mostly liable (51 percent or more) for causing the crash isn't entitled to recover any damages. If the percentage of fault isn't as high, and damages are still awarded, they're reduced based on the victim’s portion of blame for the crash. For example, a bicyclist who was riding against the flow of traffic; riding in the road instead of in a dedicated bike lane; or who makes an illegal maneuver may have a hard time collecting full payment from another at-fault party.
- Pedestrian negligence. There are many instances when pedestrians can cause bicycle accidents, some of which may result in severe injuries. Bicyclists are required to stop for pedestrians just as cars do, and if a pedestrian steps off of the curb into the path if a cyclist, the cyclist may not have time to slow down or avoid a collision. In these cases, bikers must still prove that the pedestrian's negligence was the main contributing factor in causing the accident.
- Hazardous road conditions. Bikers have just as much right to safe riding paths as cars have to hazard-free roads. In fact, bikers are owed a greater duty of care, since they are much more likely to be injured if a riding surface is defective. Fallen rocks, spilled gravel, potholes, construction, debris, leaf piles, and sudden changes in the road surface are all potential hazards that municipalities should address before they cause an accident. In cases where an obstacle cannot be avoided (such as a curve in the road, sewer grate, or railroad tracks), municipalities are required to post clear signs warning of the dangers.
- Defective or unsafe bicycle equipment. While it may be tempting to think that some accidents just “happen,” the truth is there is always a reason that crashes occur. Defective bicycle frames, brakes, chains, and tires all increase the risk of a crash, while defective helmets and safety gear can make injuries sustained in a crash much more severe. If your bike didn't perform properly in an accident, you should have the bicycle examined for poor frame welding, lax safety standards, poor design, and other defects.
If you or someone you love has suffered a bicycle accident injury, our Tennessee attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.
Before I buy a motorcycle, what should I know about the risks and potential injuries an accident may cause?
Motorcycles can be an exhilarating way to travel, but they also offer far fewer protections than other types of vehicles. However, the more prepared for an accident a motorcycle rider is, the less likely he is to actually experience one, so learning about the biggest perils facing motorcyclists could literally save a life.
Which Injuries Are the Biggest Threat to Motorcycle Riders?
While most bike accidents occur due to the actions of other drivers, the majority of injuries in these crashes happen to the rider. The most common injuries suffered by bikers nationwide include:
- Head injuries. Riding without a helmet is the most common factor in fatal motorcycle accidents. One National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash report found that riders who sustained only head trauma were more likely to be killed than those who suffered an injury to other parts of the body. Under state law, all motorcycle riders and their passengers are required to wear helmets while biking in Tennessee.
- Neck injuries. A strike to the back wheel of a motorcycle is just as likely to cause whiplash as a “rear-end” accident in a car. In addition, bikers who are thrown backward in a crash can strike the back of their skulls, sustaining neck trauma even if they are wearing a regulation helmet. Even if the head is unaffected, a neck injury can cause damage to the spinal cord and result in total or partial paralysis.
- Road rash. When a biker has to swerve to avoid a crash or “lay down” the bike, he or she may suffer “road rash”—scraping one or more parts of the body along the pavement. Even at low speeds, road rash can cause severe abrasions that require skin grafting to prevent infections and nerve damage.
- Foot and leg fractures. The most common non-fatal motorcycle accident injuries involve trauma to the feet or legs of riders. Lower-extremity injuries are more common in motorcycle crashes due to the rider’s exposed legs and the tendency for the bike to fall on top of the biker. Typical injuries include broken leg and foot bones, twisted ankles, and torn knee ligaments. In severe cases, riders may suffer a laceration to the leg that requires amputation to stop the bleeding.
- Arm injuries. Motorcyclists are likely to be launched into the air in a crash, and bikers commonly put their arms in front of them to brace for a fall. The hard landing often causes broken arms, torn rotator cuffs, broken elbows, fractured fingers, and nerve damage along the upper extremities. Permanent nerve damage may occur in the arm as well as the upper body.
- Torso and pelvis trauma. Bikers who roll after striking the road can suffer dislocated hip joints and pelvic fractures, forcing them to undergo long recoveries where they must stay immobile. Fractured ribs can also be painful, and have the added risk of causing organ perforation or internal bleeding.
Is There a Way I Can Prevent These Injuries?
If you are planning to get your first bike, it is vital that you know exactly how to handle the brakes and steering in all kinds of weather—and that you have plenty of “hands-on” experience before you take to the streets. In addition to taking a road skills test for your licensing, it is a good idea to take a riding safety course every few years to brush up on your skills. As well as a helmet, you should wear a strong leather or canvas jacket with elbow padding, eye protection, and long pants. Perhaps the most important thing is to practice safe riding: no drinking, no risky maneuvers, and limited riding after dark.
At the end of the day, you can’t control others’ actions. If you were riding as safely as possible and you were still struck by a driver, our Tennessee injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.