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 should I do if I have been bitten by a dog in Tennessee?

    Ferocious dog showing teethAccording to the American Humane Association, every year an estimated 4.7 million people are injured as a result of dog bites, some of these cases even prove to be fatal. In response to this alarming number of preventable injuries, the Tennessee legislature has begun to rethink their dog bite laws. In fact, in 2007, after a multi-dog attack fatally wounded a 60-year-old woman, the legislature decided that laws needed a complete revision and passed an updated set of dog bite laws—revised again in 2015—that discounts the “first bite rule” in favor of circumstantial liability.

    What Does This Mean for You?

    The assumption under a "first bite rule" is that a dog owner cannot be held liable the first time the dog bites someone because there is no prior knowledge of the dog's aggressiveness. However, most states have rejected this rule and will hold dog owner's accountable for a dog's first attack. The revised law means that when you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a dog bite:

    • You may be entitled to compensation whether or not it was the first time that dog showed aggression.
    • You have one year to file an injury claim.
    • You will have to be careful about how you respond to the attack in order to secure a strong injury claim against the dog’s owner.

    Get a Free Evaluation of Your Case Now!

    Caring for the Bite While Securing Your Claim

    When you’re unable to subdue an aggressive dog and wind up suffering severe bite injuries, you’re entitled to injury compensation from his owner. However, there are several actions you must take after the incident to not only avoid further injury but to also protect your claim. These actions include:

    • Withdrawing to a safe place. The first thing you must do is increase your distance from the aggressive dog to prevent further attack and injury.
    • Treating the wound. When a bite breaks the skin and causes excessive bleeding, you should keep the area elevated to limit blood loss. If possible, wash the wound with tap water to remove debris and saliva.
    • Securing emergency care. Depending on the severity of the bite, you may need to call an ambulance as professional help may be required to treat your injuries.
    • Identifying the dog. Before leaving the scene of the attack, try to identify the dog, where he came from, who he belongs to, and where he lives.
    • Gathering personal information from the owner. Record the owner’s name, address, and phone number. Ask the owner for the dog’s license information and question him about any prior incidents in which the dog may have been involved.
    • Seeking medical care. Always seek medical care after a dog bite. Since bites tend to break the skin, the attacking dog’s saliva can easily make its way into your bloodstream and cause infections.
    • Photographing injuries. If possible, document your injuries and any damage by taking pictures of the wounds, where they took place, and any other results of the attack. These photographs can be used as evidence in your case and help illustrate the extent of the attack.
    • Filing a report. Once you’ve been treated, file a report of the incident with your city or county animal control or sheriff’s department. This report can be used as evidence in your claim as well as provides documentation of the dog’s aggression.
    • Contact an attorney. The best way to guarantee that your claim is just as vigorous as the dog who attacked you is to secure a respectable dog injury lawyer.

    Considering the complexities and restrictions of Tennessee dog bite laws, a local and well-respected lawyer can help you understand and fight for your rights. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, contact GriffithLaw today at 877-959-8847 to see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

  • Can I recover compensation if I am partially at fault for an accident?

    When it comes to car accidents, states handle liability differently. Some states have “no-fault” policies. If you’re involved in a collision in a no-fault state, your personal automotive insurance should cover the resulting damages, both physical injuries and property damage. Other states, Tennessee included, are “fault states.” Fault states rely on the liable party’s insurance to pay for damages sustained to all parties.

    These laws are pretty straightforward when the liability of a collision is obvious. However, the problem arises when partial fault comes into play. Who’s responsible for damages if both parties contributed to the accident?

    Sharing Blame and Sharing Liability

    Two people arguing about fault of a car wreck

    State law determines who pays for what when a collision is proven to have been caused by multiple parties. These laws include comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Tennessee follows the modified comparative negligence system. 

    The modified comparative negligence system allows a person to be up to 50 percent liable and still receive partial damages from the other party. However, further stipulations include:

    • If the claimant is found to be 51 percent or more responsible, he isn’t entitled to recover any damages.
       
    • The awarded settlement will be calculated based on the final declaration of fault percentage. For example, if the awarded settlement is $10,000, but it was determined that you were 40 percent at-fault, your settlement will be reduced by 40 percent. Therefore, rather than receiving the full $10,000, you’ll be awarded $6,000 in damages.

    Under this system, then, you can recover damages even if you contributed in some way to the accident, but only if you are assigned less than half of the blame for the crash. Deciding upon the percentage of blame becomes a key factor in a car accident case. You will need to gather evidence to prove that you were less than 50 percent at fault. An experienced car accident attorney can assist you in this process.

    Get a Free Evaluation of Your Case Now!

    Does this information answer your questions? Connect with us on Facebook and let us know. For a more thorough discussion on your options for injury recovery following a collision, contact us directly at (615) 807-7900. We’ll be happy to discuss your case in more personal detail and recommend the best options for pursuing a claim.

  • Which insurance company should pay my medical bills in my car wreck case?

    Insurance Claim Form Surrounded by Medical Bills

    When you're hurt in a car wreck, you probably expect the insurance company to pay your medical bills afterward However, victims of accidents in Tennessee may have several insurance options to cover the costs of their injuries. While this is helpful, it can be an extremely confusing process to sort through if you’ve never been in an accident before. If you aren’t sure which insurance company might be responsible for paying the costs of your care, here are some things that you need to know.  

    Types of Insurance That Might Pay Your Medical Bills After an Accident

    In Tennessee, there are three main types of insurance that might be involved in the payment of your medical bills. Each of these options has its own set of pros and cons, and making the best decision is all about looking at the unique details of your situation and finding the best fit for your needs:

    • Your health insurance. Your health insurance should pay for your immediate care, and the benefit is that it will generally pay you as expenses are incurred. This often means that you can avoid putting your credit in danger for financing expenses, or worrying about how to get the care you need. Some facilities may tell you they can’t receive payments from your health insurance for injuries related to an accident, but this isn't a law in Tennessee. If you need treatment for your injuries, you can—and should—push your insurance company on the issue, especially for any hospital or emergency care you received.
       
    • The medical coverage on your car insurance. The medical coverage on your car insurance may pay some of the costs of your injury. However, there are usually limits on your medical coverage. You should also be aware that you have to pay back that money when you settle with the at-fault driver's insurance company, so it’s really more like a loan until the settlement is complete.
       
    • The liability insurance held by the other driver. When another driver’s negligence caused your accident, that driver’s liability insurance should cover your medical costs. Be aware, though, that liability insurance only makes payments at the end of case. Although it’s possible to receive payments intermittently, it's extremely difficult to get them to pay your bills as they are incurred. You also need to beware of low settlement offers that don’t fairly compensate you for your losses.

    Many victims of car accidents struggle to understand their rights, take appropriate action, and get the compensation they deserve for their injuries and suffering. When multiple insurance companies are involved, or when there's a dispute about which one will pay your claim, it can seem almost impossible to get the simple answers you need.

    We Can Help

    Do you need help determining who is responsible for paying your medical bills after a wreck? The attorneys at GriffithLaw have decades of combined experience helping victims and families in Nashville get the legal support and compensation they need after they’ve been hurt, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. To get started, reach out to us at 877-959-8847 or request a copy of our free and informative book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

     

  • What Should I Expect in a Jury Trial?

    Empty jury box in a courtroomIf you’ve been in a car accident and are considering working with a personal injury attorney, you may be wondering how a jury trial works and what to expect. In Tennessee, a personal injury jury trial consists of five basic phases, each of which has a key role in achieving a favorable outcome for victims of driver negligence. We discuss each phase of a jury trial here.

    Voir Dire or Jury Selection

    During this initial phase in a personal injury dispute, each party participates in selecting an objective jury to ensure a fair trial for both the plaintiff and the defendant. Attorneys ask questions of each potential juror in an attempt to identify biases that may affect the outcome of the case. Each attorney is able to dismiss a certain number of jurors.

    Opening Statements

    During the opening statements in a jury trial, each party is invited to present factual information to support their later arguments. This allows each party to present the case and provide the jury with context for the discussion to follow.

    Plaintiff’s Proof

    In the plaintiff’s proof phase, key witnesses and subject-matter experts are introduced to provide proof that the defendant’s actions leading up to the accident were negligent. Expert witnesses could include:

    • Experts on the defendant’s negligence
    • Medical experts to clarify the severity and scope of injuries as well as personal, medical, and financial ramifications

    The plaintiff and supporting witnesses may also choose to testify to major changes in the victim’s life following, and because of, the accident. They may also provide information supporting the claim that the defendant acted with negligence. Witnesses may include:

    • Friends
    • Family members
    • Neighbors
    • Coworkers
    • Employers
    • Eye witnesses

    Defense Proof

    In this phase, the defense has the chance to dispute the plaintiff’s argument of negligence, as well as any claims for losses or harms to the plaintiff. The defense may similarly use the testimonies of witnesses and experts to support an argument.

    Closing Arguments

    During the closing arguments in a personal injury trial, both parties are invited to argue their sides one last time. With an understanding of relevant laws, the jury is then allowed to deliberate over the facts of the case. Tennessee law requires a unanimous jury agreement to deliver a judgement.

    Much preparation is needed to successfully navigate the process of taking a personal injury case to trial. For assistance with your case, contact GriffithLaw today.

  • What should I know before I give a deposition in my personal injury case?

    During a personal injury deposition, the insurance’s defense attorney will undoubtedly bombard you with questions (relevant or not) to encourage you to talk as much as possible. Relevant questions may include inquiries into past injuries (including diagnoses, treatments, and long-term effects) as well as treatments received after the accident. Irrelevant questions may include interrogations about your home-life and activity level. This type of questioning is used to not only confuse you but also to make you talk more. The hope is that the more you talk, the more chances he has at catching you in a lie and disgracing your credibility. However, you can counter-attack by simply following these ground rules.

    • close-up of man holding microphone at conference tableAlways tell the truth. The most important piece of your case is credibility. If the arguing attorney catches you in a lie, your credibility will be shot.
    • Concentrate on the question. Listen carefully to the questions that you’re asked. Lawyers are talented in phrasing questions to your confusion and their benefit. Listen for double-negatives and leading phrases. When you don’t understand a question or feel that it was poorly stated, ask the attorney to rephrase it.
    • Stay focused. Try to stay in the moment. Depositions can be long and attorneys can purposefully prolong questions to build tension. Even if you think you may know what his next question will be, don’t get ahead of yourself by answering it before it is asked. You don’t want to give him information that he may not have thought to ask. 
    • Refrain from saying too much. Stick with short answers. Try not to elaborate too much. Only give the information he specifically asked for in the question. If he needs clarification, he’ll ask for it.
    • Don’t force answers. If you don’t know the answer to the question or can’t remember, don’t guess. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer as long as it’s the truth.
    • Relax. Make the best impression you can on the defense attorney. Although he may be on the other side, he’ll report back to the insurance company on how your attitude may influence a jury. If you appear to be nervous, confused, or on-edge he may recommend that the insurance company take its chances that you’ll crack on the stand. If you’re composed, honest, and allow your personality to shine through, he may advise the company to settle out of court as the jury may like you and give you an advantage.

    Be Prepared to Protect Yourself

    Successful defense lawyers are highly skilled in making you doubt yourself. It’s their job to exploit every angle in order to discredit you and keep the insurance companies from paying large settlements. Tactics include:

    • Using your words against you
    • Manipulating you into confessing guilt
    • Encouraging you to give personal information, which can then be used against you
    • Confusing you into saying or admitting something that could discredit your reliability

    Contact my office today to learn more about building a strong injury claim from the bottom up. For your convenience, you can call me at 615-807-7900 or complete our contact form. My experience and knowledge with car accident claims can help prepare you for the stand as well as give you peace of mind. I look forward to hearing from you and helping you and your family get the respect and compensation you need.

  • What should I know before signing documents from an insurance company?

    Man holding out clipboard with paper to signInsurance adjusters are trained to deal with car accident victims in order to avoid having to pay large settlements. The premier tactic they use at the beginning of a collision injury claim is making you believe that you must sign consent forms and give a recorded statement.

    This is not true.

    Consent and Statement Policies

    It’s important to know that after an accident you don’t have to sign anything or give a statement to anyone but the responding police officer, your attorney, and your own insurance adjuster. If you do decide to sign a consent form, you’ll give the defense’s insurance company the following:

    • The permission to acquire your private medical records (both past and present).
    • Evidence of prior injuries that could negate your current injury.
    • The power to question your doctors (both past and present) and gather information that could discredit your claim.
    • The consent to view medical history, including prescribed medications. Some insurance companies will use prescriptions as a way to discredit the validity of a claim. They'll suggest that you may not “remember” exactly what happened if you were on this drug, or you may be “confused” about the incident because you were on that drug.

    Agreeing to give a recorded statement can further damage your claim by giving the adjuster the opportunity to use your words to discredit you.

    Be Wary of These Statements

    You don’t need to, nor should you, commit to signing or recording anything the other driver’s insurance company requests. However, sometimes it can be tough to recognize, let alone avoid, manipulation. When speaking to the insurance company, be wary of statements such as:

    • “It’s our policy.” An adjuster may claim that it is the company’s policy to get a recorded statement or signature of consent before investigating a claim. Although the adjuster was probably trained to say it is policy, this doesn’t mean that you’re required to give in to the request. When an adjuster brings “policy” into the conversation, respond by telling him that you’re uncomfortable providing any such information until you speak with your attorney.
    • “We need it to process your claim.” Again, this is a statement to provoke a reaction. Whether it be fear (they’ll deny the claim unless you do it), hope (if you give them what they want, they’ll give you what you need), or anxiety (what will they do if you don’t do it), the right reaction will work in their favor. However, an insurance company can’t refuse to process your claim—even if they could, you can simply refile after speaking with an attorney.
    • “Otherwise, we’ll close your claim.” This is an empty threat. It’s true that closing a claim is a mere click of a button, but so is opening a new one. Any type of threat from an insurance company should be taken with a grain of salt. No matter the threat, if you have a viable claim, they can’t ignore it—especially when you have an attorney familiar with insurance tactics backing you up.

    Falling Into Their Trap

    Make sure your family and friends are aware of the consequences of signing consent forms and giving recorded statements to insurance companies. Use your social media to share this page with them via Facebook, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident. Remember, they may not know their risks until it’s too late.

    For more information on how you can quickly and reliably secure a dependable attorney, contact us today. I used to be an insurance adjuster, so I know how manipulative they can be—I also know how to fight back. Call today and I’ll be more than happy to discuss your case and provide you with the guidance and support you need to avoid being taken advantage of after an accident.

    Download our free guide to managing a personal injury claim in Tennessee

  • What are some common mistakes people make after a car accident that affect their injury claim?

    The first mistake many accident victims make is failing to call an attorney. Even if you don’t think you’ll need one, or the accident wasn’t that serious, you should always get an experienced attorney’s viewpoint before you take any legal action. It’s common for a client to think the issue is resolved only to discover a week later that she has a torn tendon or that the other driver decided to file against her. Don’t get blindsided by future problems. Secure a knowledgeable lawyer as quickly as possible so you understand your options, know what to do and what not to do, and prepare yourself for what may occur later.

    The Three Worst Mistakes You Can Make

    By securing the guidance of a dependable attorney, the three most common client errors can easily be avoided. These mistakes generally occur within 30 days of the accident and include the following:

    1. Doctor talking to patient at a deskFailing to get treatment. Although you may feel as though you can suffer through the pain of an accident, there is a popular phrase in the legal world: “Heroes get zeros.” When you fail to see a doctor after an accident, your injuries will not be documented. As a result, insurance companies can claim that your injuries were not sustained in the accident in question. In other words, if it’s not in the doctor’s note, it didn’t happen.
    2. Failing to document injuries. In addition to seeking treatment, you must be careful to ensure that every injury (big or small) is documented by the doctor. Although one injury may seem more important than another, your physician needs to know about every bump and bruise to include in his report. Many injuries worsen over time. If there isn’t a record showing that these injuries are associated with the collision, the insurance company may use it to their advantage.
    3. Failing to give a full medical history. Honesty is your best defense against insurance adjusters. When receiving treatment for your accident injuries, be sure to tell your doctor about all prior injuries you may have sustained before the accident. Did you break your ankle in high school? Let him know. Sustain whiplash three years ago? Make sure he puts it in his report. If you fail to mention these injuries, an insurance adjuster can use this omission to attack your credibility and accuse you of dishonesty or fraud. Avoid the implications by being upfront with your doctor.

    Insurance companies can be brutal and won’t hesitate to jump all over a mistake you make concerning your injury claim. Contact us today at 615-807-7900 to get the help you need right off the bat.

  • Why can’t a jury hear about insurance at trial?

    When you sue the driver whose recklessness caused your car accident, you are really suing an insurance company. If the driver is found to be responsible for the accident and he has insurance, it is the insurance policy that will pay the damages. This is true even if the case goes to a jury trial. The defendant will be represented by an attorney appointed by the insurance company and the insurance company will pay the attorney fee. If the jury finds that the defendant was at fault in the accident and awards the plaintiff a sum of money, the insurance company will pay the plaintiff.

    However, under the rules of evidence for the state of Tennessee, none of this can be mentioned during the trial. Any information regarding an insurance company is inadmissible in a Tennessee courtroom.

    What This Means for the Plaintiff

    Two lawyers in front of a judge

    Car accident cases usually go to trial because the at-fault driver’s insurance company won’t settle the claim. This means that the victim has already fought with the insurance company and has either been denied any money or has been offered less than what they are entitled to. The next course of action in this situation is to go to trial. However, the attorney for the plaintiff will not be able to mention the problems his client has had with the insurance company in court, nor will he be able to sway the jury by explaining that the defendant will not have to pay anything out of pocket. This rule makes it much harder for a victim to win compensation and is one reason you should never go to court against an insurance company without an attorney representing you.

    Reasons for the Rule

    Tennessee has this rule primarily to prevent jury bias. If a jury learns that a defendant is covered by insurance, they may be more likely to find fault and award damages. On the other hand, if they learn the defendant does not have insurance, they may relax their standards in determining fault because they sympathize with the defendant. If a jury member were to learn that she is represented by the same insurance company as the defendant, she may worry that her premiums will go up if the company has to pay out on this policy and this could affect her decision. Likewise, if a jury member has had a negative experience with the insurance company on trial, he may find against them out of spite.

    The purpose of a jury trial in a car accident is simply to determine whether the defendant is at fault for the accident and, if so, how much he should be required to pay in damages. Tennessee’s rules of evidence ensure that insurance issues do not play a part in this decision.

    You Need an Experienced Car Accident Trial Lawyer on Your Side

    While this rule doesn’t always work against the plaintiff, it can complicate a case. An experienced car accident attorney will know how to present your case to your best advantage, regardless of the mention of insurance coverage. Call GriffithLaw at 615-807-7900 now to discuss the details of your particular case. We are here to help.

  • What amount should I sue for in my personal injury lawsuit?

    One of the very first questions almost every injury victim asks his lawyer is some variation of “What is my case worth?

    It’s perfectly natural to want to know ahead of time what to expect; after all, an injury lawsuit can be grueling, and it helps to know that there will eventually be something to make it worth your while. Unfortunately, the value of a case is not set in stone. A reasonable settlement amount depends on a variety of factors, including:

    • The cause of the accident. The cause of an accident is important in determining who or what was to blame. If road conditions contributed to the crash, for example, your settlement might be lower as no person can be blamed for that. However, if another driver caused the collision because he was drunk, you can expect a maximum settlement since liability can be easily proven.
    • The number of vehicles and persons involved. The total amount of a settlement may depend on the number of liable parties. The settlement amount will be higher if the negligence of multiple parties can be proven to have caused your injuries.
    • The severity of your injuries. The cost of the medical expenses you have incurred (or will incur) and how your injuries will affect your future quality of life will determine the settlement amount. The more severe the injuries, the more compensation will be required.
    • The ability of your attorney. The best way to ensure that you’ll receive a fair settlement is by securing the help of a resourceful and well-educated attorney who knows how to play the game.

    Demand the Maximum and Don’t Go it Alone

    When pursuing an injury case in Tennessee, it’s essential to start by demanding the maximum settlement. Why? Because, Tennessee law forbids a plaintiff from collecting a higher settlement than what was initially claimed in the lawsuit, even if the jury sees fit to award more for unexpected medical bills or worsening injuries.

    For more information on filing an injury claim, please, contact us today at 615-807-7900 or email us directly by filling out the contact form provided and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We’re eager to talk to you about your case and help you secure the fair compensation your injury expenses require. Remember, insurance companies care more about winning than they do about your future. We think you deserve better than that. You can also download our FREE guide for personal injury cases in Tennessee. Our book is full of helpful tips and information if you have been injured or involved in an accident.

  • 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 our Franklin car accident lawyers today to see how we can help you uncover and explain the complexities of your injuries to get the compensation they deserve.