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 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.
How can I help my loved ones cope with a relative’s wrongful death?
The sudden loss of a family member is the most difficult thing a person will ever have to experience. Survivors often feel angry, overwhelmed, and even succumb to long periods of apathy or depression as they attempt to cope with the loss. While there is no easy way to overcome the death of a relative, there are a few things that can be done to make the grieving process easier for all members of the family.
Helpful Tips for Coping With a Loved One’s Wrongful Death
Any death can cause upheaval for a family, but a death that happens suddenly does not allow survivors any time to prepare for the loss. Deaths can cause a number of changes for a family, including emotional suffering, financial problems, and uncertainty about the future. The shock of losing a loved one is often replaced by the shock of restructuring all aspects of life to fill the gaps left by the lost family member—gaps that can continue to exist long after the wrongful death occurs.
The time it takes to grieve will vary from person to person, but adults can do many things to help themselves through the grieving process. These may include:
- Understand that it will take time. Survivors often have good days and bad days when it comes to coping with loss. If you have a bad day, it is important not to tear down all the work you have done throughout the process. Remember that it’s going to take a while before you feel “normal” again, and there’s no way to speed up that process.
- Put a support system in place. It is vital to establish strong ties to people you can trust and who can help you throughout the process. Although you may be a strong and proud person, there is no human being who can grieve all alone. You and the rest of your family may need help from parents, siblings, friends, teachers, or support groups to help you get through the grieving process. A support system reminds survivors that they are not alone and that others have made it through a similar experience, allowing them to share your burden.
- Set new routines and minimize triggers. Establishing a normal daily routine can help all members of the family get through loss by minimizing feelings of panic or frustration. If the deceased person used to make dinner, accept offers from friends and family to fill the gap until a permanent solution is found. Try to keep the schedules of the children’s activities (such as mealtimes, after-school activities, and bedtime) consistent.
- Get answers that will allow you closure. These deaths often involve negligence, and families are owed answers to all of their questions so they can move on with their lives. If the person who died was responsible for earning a large portion of the family income or died under suspicious circumstances, survivors should seek an attorney’s advice immediately. An experienced accident lawyer can determine what really happened leading up to the accident, and tell you whether you are owed compensation for wrongful death in Tennessee.
Children May React to the Death Differently
Children may have a hard time understanding death, and often react to a loss differently than adults. For example, children may suddenly show these uncharacteristic behaviors:
- Solitude. Children in a state of emotional shock may spend long periods without talking or prefer to be left alone.
- Regression. Toddlers and elementary school children may suddenly regress into old habits, such as bedwetting, refusing to leave a parent’s side, or demanding to be held.
- Acting out. A child may get into trouble at school, have outbursts of anger, or start fights with siblings to cope with feelings of helplessness.
- Apathy. Teenagers may express little or no emotion, get poor grades, or demonstrate a lack of feeling toward others.
Parents often want to take their child’s burden on themselves, but this just isn’t possible during the grieving process. The best way to be a strong support for children is to be there when they need you. Encourage anything that helps the process, such as questions and quality time, and allow them to express their feelings of loss by saying they miss the person, or they wish that they were still here. Give them room to experience their feelings, check in with them regularly, and wait until they are ready to talk.
If you and your children are suffering after the loss of a loved one, we can help. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
What should I do if I have been injured in a pedestrian accident?
Car accidents involving pedestrians are far more likely to cause significant injuries than two-car collisions—and unfortunately, pedestrian and bicycle accidents are on the rise. Many victims will suffer head injuries, broken bones, amputation, paralysis, severe disability, or even death in these crashes, even if the driver is traveling at relatively low speeds. Pedestrians can greatly reduce their risk of permanent injury by knowing what to do in the hours and weeks after an accident has occurred.
What Pedestrians Should Do After a Car Accident
The actions you take after being struck by a car can affect not only your health, but your ability to recover payment for your injuries and lost income. If you were hit while walking or bicycling, you should take the following steps:
- Exchange contact information. If you have not lost consciousness, make sure you tell the driver of the car your name and get his name and contact information as well. If the driver has left the scene, seek help from anyone who passes or stops. Get off the roadway and find a safe place to assess your injuries. If nobody is nearby, call 911.
- Go to the hospital. It is important to seek emergency medical care even if you think you are not seriously injured. A blow to the head can cause disorientation, and the shock of being in an accident can cause victims who may be gravely injured to believe that they are fine. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and going to the hospital will add evidence to your injury case if you need to go to court.
- Report the accident to the insurance company. Be sure to report the accident to your insurance company within a few days of the crash. When it comes to car insurance, Tennessee is a "fault" state, meaning victims can file injury and property damage claims with their own insurer, the insurer of the at-fault driver, or through a third party. If you seek compensation from the at-fault driver, you will likely make a claim against his liability insurance.
- Determine fault. One of the biggest problems in getting compensation for injuries after a crash is determining who was at fault. The costs of injuries and losses when a driver hits a pedestrian are often very high, so both insurance companies involved have a vested interest in blaming the other party. Most courts determine fault by carefully examining which party was the most negligent. For instance, a drunk driver who strikes a biker who was following all of the traffic laws would likely be found negligent. On the other hand, a pedestrian who ran into the street instead of using a crosswalk may be considered negligent. Finally, both the driver and the pedestrian can be found negligent if they were not exercising reasonable care on the road. Insurers can deny claims if they have evidence of negligence, such as the police report of the accident, witness statements, or even your own words to an adjuster when making the claim.
- Contact an attorney. If an insurance company is refusing to pay for your injuries or has assigned you an unfair percentage of fault, you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney. An experienced lawyer can conduct a detailed investigation into the facts of your case, deal with the insurance company on your behalf, and take an at-fault driver to court to get full compensation for your losses.
Victims have only one year after the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Tennessee, and just three years after the accident to get payment for damage to property. As the time limit to file for compensation is so short, it is best to discuss your legal options with an injury attorney as soon as possible. Our legal advisors can listen to your story and examine your case carefully to determine the best way to move forward. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Are commercial truckers allowed to use cell phones while driving?
When a driver becomes too distracted to pay attention to the potential traffic risks around him, he greatly increases his odds of causing an accident. Cell phones are rapidly becoming the number one distraction for drivers. Unfortunately, the popularity of cell phone use isn’t restricted to sedan and mid-size car drivers. The most worrisome trend is that commercial truck drivers have begun to pick up their phones as well—making them more dangerous on the road—despite federal regulations prohibiting distracting behavior.
Ignoring Regulations Leads to Dangerous Behavior
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently published specific rules regarding commercial truck and transporters from using cell phones. These rules prohibit interstate truck drivers and drivers who transport hazardous materials from texting or using hand-held mobile devices while their vehicles are in motion. To prevent any confusion, the U.S. Department of Transportation has explicitly defined the words “texting” and “cell phone use” so that truckers can easily tell if they’re violating the rules:
- Texting. The DOT recognizes texting as not only the manual entering of alphanumeric information into an electronic device, but also the reading of information off of a device. Under this definition, the FMCSA regulations prohibit truck drivers from performing actions such as short message service, e-mailing, instant messaging, accessing Web pages, or using multi-button communication. In short, if the driver pushes more than a single button on his device to perform any action, he’s guilty of violating the texting regulation.
- Cell phone use. Under the DOT definition, holding or even reaching for a mobile phone with the intent of conducting voice or multi-button communication is considered cell phone use, and is prohibited. The FMCSA regulations allow truckers to use hands-free communication devices, as long as they are located within easy reach of the driver.
In other words, truckers can only use mobile devices if the device is within close proximity, requires a single button push to activate communications, or is totally hands-free.
Risks and Punishment
If caught, violators of these cell phone safety regulations can suffer severe penalties. In addition to legal consequences following an accident, if a commercial truck driver uses an electronic device against the FMCSA rules, he may suffer the following consequences:
- Civil penalties. Violators can be stuck with fines and penalties up to $2,750 for violation of safety regulations.
- Employer civil penalties. If determined that the driver’s employer willfully allowed him to use a cell phone while driving, the employer can be liable for damages.
- Increased risk of damaging safety record. Violators can be awarded the minimum safety measurement rating for a commercial driver, which could lead to the loss of his commercial license.
- Increased risk of causing an accident. Commercial truck drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to cause an accident than those who do not. Drivers who dial mobile phones while driving have a 20 percent greater chance of causing an accident than those who follow the rules.
- Increased insurance premiums. Violations of safety protocols could drastically increase a driver’s insurance premiums, especially if he caused an accident as a result.
- Increased risk for vehicular manslaughter charges. If the driver’s actions directly caused a fatal collision, in addition to personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage liability, he could also face a manslaughter or vehicular homicide charge.
Making Your Case
Have you recently been the victim of a distracted truck driver? If so, you need help to build and strengthen your case. Contact our office directly to schedule your FREE consultation. We’re waiting to help you better understand and pursue your injury claim. Take it from us, knowing the driver was violating his safety protocols is not the same thing as being able to prove it. Allow us to take that burden from you. Simply click the contact info on this page and see how we can help you get the justice you deserve.
How long does it take to resolve a motorcycle accident case?
The two most often asked questions an injury attorney hears are:
- How much is my claim worth?
- How long will my case take?
These concerns are inevitable when pursuing any kind of damage or personal injury because, as the victim, you want to know if filing a claim is worth your time and aggravation. We understand. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions may not be as straightforward as you would hope.
Personal injury claims are not formulaic. There are no codes or special schedules that can determine how one claim will compare to the next. As a result, there is no set sum, claim value, resolution, or time period that any attorney can guarantee right out of the gate. Therefore, if an attorney responds with anything other than an estimation based on past cases when asked how long it will take to receive your compensation, you need to walk away. Without knowing all the facts of your case, it’s impossible, unethical, and manipulative to suggest a guaranteed timeframe—especially if that frame seems particularly short.
Rather than taking advantage of your desire to resolve your claim quickly, a reliable attorney will take the time to discuss your case in detail to determine potential factors that may prolong your case, cause delays, or affect your claim’s eligibility. These factors include:
- Statute of limitations. A “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a specific time limit on your right to file a lawsuit. These windows vary depending on the type of accident and damages you’ve suffered. In most injury cases, Tennessee allows a victim or his family one year from the accident date to file a claim. If the collision resulted in a death, this period begins on the date of death, rather than the accident date (if different). If you file outside of this window, the court will most likely dismiss your case altogether.
- Liability. Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the investigation stage and negotiation period will depend on whether the allegedly-at-fault driver’s negligence was the only cause of the accident. Since Tennessee is a comparative fault state, determining the percentages of liability for each party involved can take time.
- Court orders. Many jurisdictions require accident victims and defendants to participate in mediation and settlement conferences as part of the civil court case process. If the parties involved are unwilling to compromise, retain varied recollections of what happened, or exhibit unruly behavior against one another in court, the judge may order additional conferencing, depositions, or mediation which can drastically prolong a case.
If you have questions or concerns about when you should pursue an injury claim, don’t allow yourself to be bamboozled or sweet-talked by empty promises and manipulations. Contact our motorcycle accident attorneys today and see how we value your time and trust more than your pocketbook. Call us today to schedule your FREE case review and see how we can help you build a strong and viable claim.
GriffithLaw has extensive experience helping motorcycle riders receive compensation for their injuries. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, please call our Franklin law firm today.