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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  • How do pre-existing injuries that are made worse affect injury claims?

    The law states that if an accident can be proven to have directly caused the worsening of a pre-existing condition, the injured victim is entitled to compensation for the increased damage.

    The keywords in this statement are “can be proven.”

    Without substantial evidence showing a link between the worsening injury (or increased pain and suffering) and the impact force of the accident, the insurance company can deny the claim, stating that the current injuries were not related to their client's accident.

    Proving an Injury/Accident Relationship

    When pursuing a car accident claim, the thing you need to remember is that insurance companies are—how should we put this?—

    Man with crutch opening a car door

    not helpful. In fact, insurance adjusters will do anything and everything to keep from having to pay out a substantial claim. One of the most notorious tactics they use is trying to convince you that you’re responsible for your own injuries, or at least that they’re not responsible. In some cases, insurance companies go as far as to pass the blame onto God, as long as they don’t have to pay.

    Knowing how ruthless they can be, it’s easy to see how they’ll try to weasel out of paying a claim when an accident aggravated a pre-existing condition. However, despite what the insurance company wants, they can’t legally justify a denial when you can provide proof that the accident caused you further damage or increased pain. The fact of the matter is that even if you had a previous injury, the impact of the collision made that injury worse, and therefore deserves attention.

    Below are a few tips that can help you secure your claim by securing necessary evidence and support.

    • Be diligent. Seek medical attention immediately after the accident, no matter how minor your injuries appear. By securing a medical report, you can verify trauma and close the timeline between accident and injury, preventing the insurance company from arguing that your injuries were caused by something other than the accident.
    • Be honest. When speaking to the doctor, do not withhold any information about previous injuries. If you previously broke your ankle and you’re currently experiencing pain in the same place, let him know. The previous break could have weakened the bone and made it more susceptible to the impact force of the accident. This information can help him in his diagnosis and can also help explain the severity of injuries.
    • Be precise. Make sure to list every single injury that you may have, even if you think the injury may be minor. Start from your toes and work your way up, scanning for any pain or potential problems. It is important that the doctor records all issues at the time of the initial exam to ensure that they’ll be included in the report in case they worsen.
    • Be smart. Let us help you secure all the necessary evidence you need to prove your case.

    Call us at 615-807-7900 or 1-877-959-8847, to schedule your FREE, no-obligation consultation. Our vast experience and eagerness to help you get justice for your injuries makes us a great asset to your claim. Contact us today to see how we can help you uncover and explain the complexities of your injuries to get the compensation they deserve.

  • How are police reports used in Tennessee injury claims?

    Police reports are unreliable and fall under the category of speculation or hearsay. Since an officer does not physically witness the car accident or see the circumstances that led up to it, his report can’t be considered legitimate evidence of what actually occurred. Consequently, the state of Tennessee considers police reports inadmissible as evidence for proving liability in a car accident case. However, just because the police officer’s report is inadmissible, doesn’t mean the officer’s personal testimony can’t be used.

    Police Officer Testimony

    Police officer securing accident sceneA police officer’s report can’t show the actions leading up to an accident or what occurred during the collision. However, an officer’s testimony of what he witnessed first-hand can bring necessary evidence to light on what occurred after the incident. This evidence is admissible and can be used to piece together what occurred and illustrate the severity of the wreck. Essential information that the responding officer can legitimately give includes:

    • Position of vehicles. How the vehicles were positioned can give insight into where they were before and during the collision. This, in turn, can provide speculation into liability—or at least a window for your attorney to question impact locations. It’s important to note that if the officer draws the scene of the accident in his report, that illustration (although part of the report) may be admissible as it reflects what he saw when he arrived.
    • Unadulterated witness statements. When it comes to injury claims, it’s amazing how defendants and plaintiffs alike can develop selective memory. They can say one thing at the time of the accident, but change the story completely when it comes time to testify. However, although he may not have witnessed the accident first-hand, the responding officer can affirm or refute statements by comparing them to the ones he took at the time of the accident.
    • Injury conditions of parties involved. Insurance companies are quick to question the severity of victims’ injuries as well as how they sustained them. However, an officer can verify the injury conditions of both parties by testifying about the physical conditions of those involved once he arrived at the scene.
    • Mental and physical conditions of parties involved. Finally, the responding officer can give insight into the conditions and appearance of each driver at the time of his arrival. A driver’s condition can help prove liability. For instance, if a driver appeared to be overly tired, his fatigue could have been distracting enough to lead to the accident. Likewise, if the officer noticed signs of intoxication, this could be evidence of reckless driving.  

    Securing the Evidence You Need

    When pursuing a car accident injury claim, you’ll need as much help as you can get to convince the insurance company and the court that your injuries require a fair settlement. At GriffithLaw, we’re here to give you the guidance you require to file your claim, and the resolve to secure your claim’s success. We know how frustrating and complicated car accident claims can be, especially when so many things can make or break your case. Let our experience and knowledge work for you. Contact us today at 615-807-7900 for a FREE consultation.

    Need more information about traffic accident claims? Feel free to browse our site to see how our vast experience and knowledge can help you get the settlement you deserve.

  • What can I do if I’m involved in a traffic accident with an uninsured driver?

    Tennesse car accidents with uninsured driversEach state has a minimum requirement for car insurance. In Tennessee, the minimum is $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury liability and $15,000 for property damage liability. Even though it’s illegal to drive without insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council, more than 14 percent of U.S. drivers are uninsured. If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by another driver, you are entitled to claim damages for medical expenses and repairs to your vehicle. But what happens if the other driver is underinsured or has no insurance at all?

    Steps to Take

    If the other driver in your car accident is uninsured and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, your only recourse to claim compensation is to sue that driver. In order to do this, you need to obtain a variety of important information that documents the accident, including:

    • Photographs. Take as many pictures as you can of the damage and the positions of the cars. Make sure you include the scene with both cars, the location, time, and the plates of the other vehicle. This documentation will help prove that the accident took place.
    • Details. Write down the make, model, and color of the other car. If the other driver has refused to give you his personal information, or there is a language barrier, note any details you can remember about him.
    • Location. Make note of the exact location of the accident, so you can give the police specific details. You may also wish to track any security footage in the vicinity from the time of the accident.
    • Witnesses. Write down the contact details of everyone who witnessed the accident. Your attorney may need to use their affidavits later during your court hearing.

    The most important thing to remember if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver is to call the police. Even if the damage appears minimal, you need to make a police report; there may be much more damage than you can see. Even if the other driver asks you not to call the police, you should still make that 911 call. It’s the only way you can protect yourself, your vehicle, and any future lawsuit.

    Get a Free Evaluation of Your Case Now!

    At GriffithLaw, we have more than a decade of experience serving people who have been the victims of traffic accidents. If you have been involved in a traffic accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver, call us at 877-959-8847, or fill out our online form to request a free, no-obligation consultation. Our Nashville car accident attorneys are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve for personal injury and damage to your vehicle.

     

  • How long will it take to settle my car accident case in Tennessee?

    This is a very common question asked by most victims injured in car accidents in Tennessee. Understandably, most people want to collect their compensation and put the crash behind them as soon as possible. However, it is in your best interest to understand what is involved in a car accident case because it often directly relates to the length of time it takes to resolve it.

    Car accident settlement compensation

    If you are looking to settle your case quickly, the insurance company will make you an offer at the very beginning of your case. They hope you will accept that offer because it will usually be low, and you might not yet be aware of the extent of your injuries. If you do accept the offer, your case can be resolved within weeks; however, you will no longer be able to collect additional money for your injuries at a later time. This is why it is prudent to be patient and not settle too quickly.

    Factors That Affect the Time to Settle Your Case

    The length of time your case may take to be resolved often depends on the following factors:

    • The extent of your injuries. You never want to settle a car accident injury claim until you recover completely or reach a point of maximum medical improvement. This way, you will know the full extent of your injuries and feel confident that you won’t face additional problems or a future surgery. Although your recovery can take six months or more, which adds time to your case, it is in your best interest to wait until you know the cost of your medical bills, lost wages, and the result of your pain and suffering.
       
    • The cooperation of the insurance company. Some insurance companies are more willing to be flexible than others when it comes to negotiating a settlement. Larger insurance providers have a legal team dedicated to reducing the cost of a claim and negotiating with a plaintiff’s attorney. Smaller insurers may have a large volume of outstanding claims, taking longer for each claim to be addressed by an adjuster. Still, other insurers require several layers of internal review and approval by multiple parties before an amount can be disbursed, especially if the claim is over a certain value. 
       
    • The litigation process. If you decide to pursue a car accident injury lawsuit, there are steps you’ll need to take that will affect the length of time it takes to settle it. After the lawsuit gets filed and the other party gets 30 days to answer, the discovery phase of the case begins. This is the fact-finding process that involves interrogatories (RULE 33.01) where each side gets to ask questions in an effort to collect information from each other about the case. Depositions (statements under oath) will then be taken, and witnesses and medical providers will also be deposed. This process can be lengthy and frustrating but needed in order to strengthen your case. Following this process, the court will typically require mediation. If the case isn’t resolved at this point, a trial date will be set.
    • The details of the case. There are many factors involved in an individual case that can add to the timeline of the claim. For example, claims involving government entities may take longer than claims between two drivers and their insurance companies. If there are gaps in the documentation of the crash (such as a missing police report or unavailable witness), the case may take longer to settle. Also, an accident involving a commercial trucking company, delivery truck, or other major corporation may require an extensive investigation, adding to the overall timeline of the case.
       
    • The percentage of fault. It may take some time to clearly establish liability in your case. It is important to be patient throughout this process since liability is a major factor in the amount you may receive in your case. Under Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence system, a claimant’s settlement will be reduced by his percentage of fault for the accident—and if a party is more than 51 percent at fault, he will not be entitled to any damages.

    What to Consider Before Settling Your Case

    A settlement is only one way to conclude your case. If you are not satisfied with the amount you are offered, you may decline the settlement and take your case to trial. While there is the potential for a higher settlement by going to trial, there is also more risk involved. If the insurer makes a strong case to the jury, you may be denied any amount at all for your injuries—and even if you are successful at trial, the defendant has the ability to appeal the decision, forcing you to go through the process all over again. For this reason, many victims would rather accept a settlement that will provide for their losses than go to trial.

    A good settlement in your case will provide payment for:

    • Your out-of-pocket costs. A settlement should at least provide for any costs you have incurred as a direct result of the accident. This includes all of your past medical bills, any medical treatment you may need for your injury in the future, and any property damage that was sustained in the crash. You should also have the total amount of your lost wages from the days of work you missed due to the accident, including any benefits (such as bonuses, commissions, and opportunities for advancement).
       
    • Your future. In many accident cases, the victim will never be able to make a full recovery. You may only be able to work part-time, or be unable to earn a sustainable living at all. Nerve damage, paralysis, and other permanent injuries can prevent you from engaging in the activities you formerly enjoyed, effectively changing both your life and your lifestyle. An injury can also make some options impossible for you, such as affecting your ability to have children or to care for the children you already have.
       
    • Your pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is not just an amount for physical discomfort, but for the emotional effects of your injuries. Did the circumstances of your accident cause extreme emotional anguish? Are you seeing a therapist or psychologist on an ongoing basis to deal with the trauma of the accident? Did the accident cause facial disfigurement, loss of quality of life, or place a strain on your relationships with family members? Any one of these effects can be considered in a pain and suffering award.

    Most Tennessee personal injury cases are resolved within nine months to a year and a half. While this may seem like a long time, your compensation may be higher after getting through medical treatment and going through all the proper litigation steps to prove your case.

    Would You Like More Free Information About Car Accident Cases in Tennessee?

    For help learning more about the car accident injury claim process, request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

    Free guide to handling car accidents in Tennessee

     

  • What is my personal injury case worth?

    Judges Gavel in Courtroom

    When I first meet with my clients, they usually have initial immediate concerns, such as, “How are my medical bills and lost wages going to be paid?” , “Why won’t the insurance company go ahead and pay my claim?” or “I have lost my spouse and I just simply don’t know what I am going to do to take care of my family.” If you have had a serious injury (or wrongful death of a family member), the other person’s negligence may cause a serious and devastating impact on your life and finances.

    Sooner or later, another question is inevitable and you have a right to know, “What is the value of my case?”You need to be able to make plans to protect yourself and your family from the harsh realities that have been thrust upon you.

    The Answer? “It depends.”

    Get a Free Evaluation of Your Case Now!

    This is not an attempt to evade your question. But the truth is, there are so many critical varying factors that go into every value of each case that it is impossible to predict. If any lawyer tells you at the beginning of your case what its value is, that person should NOT be trusted. I have met with many clients who have visited me for a free consultation, and have had them tell me stories of desperate attorneys who have told them that their case is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, just to get them to sign up with them and then later disappoint them when they cannot deliver. We will always be honest and upfront with our client, even if it is information you would rather not hear.

    How To Calculate The Value of Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Cases

    Here are some of the factors that must be considered in determining the value, and net result, of your case:

    • Are you at fault for any portion of your incident?
    • Your medical bills to date;
    • Medical expenses you and your family face in the future;
    • Lost income/wages to date;
    • Lost income you may incur in the future;
    • How painful is the injury?
    • How long will your injuries last? Are they permanent?
    • Any Scarring or Disfigurement?
    • How interfering with your life are your injuries long term?
    • How has the injury legitimately affected the relationships of friends and loved ones around you?
    • How painful is your injury going to be in the future?
    • Is your injury going to become worse the older you get?
    • Can you effectively share your story of your loss of enjoyment of life?
    • Did you have any similar injuries to your current injuries that existed prior to this wreck/ prior injuries?
    • Is your doctor willing to support your medical claims?
    • Have you documented ALL of your medical injury claims properly?

     

    Do NOT listen to any insurance agent or adjuster about the value of your case. They are going to vastly underrate the value of YOUR case and low ball you.

    Again, any lawyer who says they know the value of your case at or near the beginning should be taken with a grain of salt. An experienced attorney should be able to sit down with you and ask probing questions that will give him or her a deeper understanding of the issues that will control your case other than just the words and numbers on paper that may answer the questions above.

    In order to gain this understanding, our attorneys here at GriffithLaw, including myself, are always more than happy to sit down with you for free, either here or at your home or wherever you feel most comfortable, and give you a range of value of your case. Call now at 615-807-7900 to talk to an attorney who specializes in your type of case about its true range of values. This consultation is free and absolutely confidential.

  • Should I have uninsured motorist coverage for my car?

    Many times when I have clients who have been involved in a wreck, one of the first things that I want to know is what type of insurance coverage they had on their car. It’s important because we don’t know the full extent of the coverage that the other person that hit you has covering their car.

    Tennessee is one of the few states that does not allow you to discover the insurance coverage held by the person that hit you. If a person crashes into you or your family, why would you be worried about uninsured motorist coverage? The answer is because your uninsured motorist coverage also acts as what is known as “under” insured motorist coverage. For example, If you have a claim from a serious incident that exceeds $100,000 and the person that hit you has “full coverage”, that person may only have $25,000 of coverage. $25,000 is the state minimum to meet the car insurance requirements to be legal in Tennessee. If you have your own Uninsured Motorist policy where you purchased $100,000 or $250,000 of coverage, you will be insured up to the amount of your coverage, whichever amount you previously chose. The coverage of your car under your uninsured motorist coverage effectively takes the place of a lack of enough coverage by the party that hit you. Another good rule of thumb is to ask your agent how much it costs for $1,000,000.00 umbrella of uninsured motorist coverage, or for the highest amount of coverage they provide. Usually, Uninsured Motorist (UM) policies max out at $500,000 of coverage in Tennessee. You will be surprised how affordable it is for 6 months of uninsured motorist coverage at $500,000 – usually less than the price of taking your family out to dinner.

    Car accident with no uninsured motorist coverage

    Many people are surprised to learn that their own insurance company will often hire a lawyer to defend the person that hit them in the event that that person had no insurance coverage or not enough coverage. This can be problematic because when people first report a loss, they may tell their own insurance company things about their case they wouldn’t reveal to the other insurance company. Many times when you first give a statement to your insurance company and report the claim, you’re not aware that your insurance company will later use this information against you in the event that they hire a lawyer to defend the person that caused all of your harms and losses. This is the reason that I always preach that you need to be very careful about trusting your own insurance company.

    Whenever you have a high limit of uninsured motorist coverage, you’re insuring every other person on the roadway that might cross over that center line and hit you head on. Another reason why you need to have uninsured motorist coverage is that it will typically protect you in the event that you are a bicyclist. We represent a lot of cyclists in our firm, and a lot of times their own uninsured motorist coverage from their car will cover them in the event that they’ve been struck by a passing vehicle. If you’re a pedestrian and you get hit by a car, your uninsured motorist coverage will protect you. Always, always, always make sure that you have uninsured motorist coverage at the highest limits possible.

    I share this to give you information and insight as to how personal injury cases are tried and litigated in the state of Tennessee. If you have questions about your case – I want to speak with you. Call me at 615-807-7900 or email me. Thank you.

  • Do I need an attorney to handle my personal injury case in the state of Tennessee?

    Each week I receive dozens of calls from people who have been hurt in car wrecks who ask me the same question.  And every time I speak with them, they have waited a certain period of time before calling me, and they have made the same mistakes over and over again.  Let me share with you the top 3 mistakes people make trying to handle their personal injury case themselves.

    Top 3 Mistakes People Make Handling Their Car Accident Case

    1.  They allow the adjuster too much access to their case.    This includes allowing the liability adjuster access to all of your prior medical bills and giving them a recorded statement.   You are required to give a recorded statement to your own insurance company, but not the insurance company insuring the car that hit you.  These same people trust that the claims adjuster is going to help them document all of the harms and losses the injured person has sustained.  This is a mistake.

    2.  Failure to document injuries.   People fail to document their harms, including bruising, cases, scars, incisions, lacerations, attempts at trying to walk again after being disabled from an injury, attempts and struggles during rehabilitation and physical therapy, etc.    Six months from now you may forget how painful and how difficult it was trying to get back into your normal activities of daily living.   Pictures and video document these situations and give force to your struggles and pain.   This documentation will help the insurance company see that you are an individual person and not just another claim number to have to deal with.   You are unique and special, and so should their evaluation of your case.    More importantly, if you are hurting, you must go to the doctor to document your injuries.  The sooner you go, the better.  Gaps in treatment hurt your case.  An insurance adjuster and their attorney will infer that “if it is not in a doctor’s note, then it did not happen.”   Document, document, document!   A lot of people will try and “tough it out” and just take over the counter medication to deal with the pain and hopefully will not have to go to the doctor.  Then, after agonizing for weeks, or months, they go to the doctor for the first time after a long gap in time.  The insurance adjuster will try and infer that you are 1- Making up the claim just to get money after having time to sit around and think about it after watching personal injury commercials on TV, and 2- you must have been involved in another wreck or were injured again somehow in a way that is totally related to the wreck you were involved in with their insured.  Waiting is a big mistake!

    When you do go to your doctor, make sure that you document each injury you sustained in your incident, starting at your head and going down to your toes.  Even if the pain is not excruciating, document it by telling the doctor of each injury you have sustained.

    3. They fail to document the property damage caused in your wreck.   Many times people will only have pictures of their car, but not pictures of the car that hit them.  This is another big mistake.  Why?   If you are rear-ended by another car, for example, and the car that hit you pushed you forward 15 feet and sustained a lot of front end damages, the insurance adjuster will likely only take pictures of the rear of your car which may not show a lot of damage, and not take (or not provide, or conveniently lose) pictures of the defendant’s car.   This is for the sole purpose of trying to create an image that your impact was very minor, and there is no credible way you could have been seriously hurt.    In the meantime, they will not provide pictures of their insured’s car which shows a smashed grille, a leaking radiator, crushed hood, front fender damage, airbag deployment, etc.    This is an attempt to deceive you and the jury.   Show your own story.  Take control and take pictures of the other cars in their resting position at the scene of the wreck if you are able.  If not, try to get loved ones or the police to take photographs if you think of it.  Obviously, take care of yourself and your family first!

    Make sure to show the resting positions of the cars.  Many times in a wreck your car will be propelled forward for a great distance.  While the impact to your car may be relatively minor, the impact to your body in that situation will be hopefully realized when you can show how large the force was that hit you, and how far that you were propelled.    If airbags deploy in your car, take pictures.  If there are gashes in the roadway, take pictures.  Whenever you take pictures of the vehicles, take both wide angle pictures, as well as close ups of the damages.   If your radio fell out, take pictures.  Document, document, document!   There is no such thing as taking too many pictures or too much video.

    Remember, YOU are unique.  Don’t let the adjuster try to minimize your case by hiding or destroying evidence.  Help yourself by being prepared and be ready to SHOW your own story.

    Get a Free Evaluation of Your Case Now!

    If you have any additional questions about your personal injury case, let us stand up and fight for you. Call us today at 877-959-8847 or download our FREE guide for personal injury cases in Tennessee.