Common Questions About Car Accident Cases in Tennessee

It isn’t uncommon to feel confused about your rights or your options after you or a family member has been hurt in a wreck. Find the answers to your questions here, or simply browse our answers to other common questions from Tennessee car accident victims. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to call our Franklin car accident lawyers directly at (615) 807-7900.

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  • 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 wreck 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 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

  • Which doctor should I go to after a car accident?

    Victims should get medical care as soon as possible after a car accident, whether by visiting the emergency room or seeing their regular doctor in the hours after a crash. However, patients will need someone to provide continuing care related to the crash after this initial treatment—and that often means choosing someone other than a primary care doctor to treat crash injuries.

    Choosing the Right Doctor to Treat Your Car Accident Injuries

    Insurance companies will only provide payment if you have proper medical evidence of your injuries. For this reason, you will need an injury doctor who will thoroughly document the cause, treatment, and long-term effects of your injuries in your medical records. The best choice for your ongoing treatment is someone who has experience treating car accident victims and who specializes in your specific type of injury.

    A specialist can be invaluable to your health and your case by:

    • Documenting what happened to you in the accident. A specialist who has treated car accident victims before can give a medical opinion on how your injuries were sustained in the accident (such as a head striking a steering wheel), making it more difficult for insurers to deny the claim.
    • Addressing any pre-existing conditions. Your specialist can identify whether the accident aggravated a previous injury or condition you had suffered in the past, allowing you to claim an additional amount to treat these conditions.
    • Ordering tests, referrals, and specialized treatments. In addition to performing blood tests and ordering imaging studies (such as MRIs or X-rays), specialists may refer you to physical therapists, occupational therapists, and vocational rehabilitation experts who can fully evaluate you to determine the full range of your suffering and losses.
    • Giving a prognosis on future medical care. Although every accident is different, a specialist who routinely treats crash victims has the ability to predict how these injuries will affect patients later in life. Some common complications that may be noted in your medical record include permanent impairment ratings, an estimation of future medical needs, and your ability to work, perform self-care, and enjoy life.

    If you are struggling to recover payment after a car accident, we can take over the fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you are owed. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Is it OK to Post Details of My Car Accident on Social Media?

    Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are popular forums for sharing the details of one’s life with friends, family, and strangers. Consequently, it’s not surprising that social media has become an outlet for frustrations—venting to the public can be a satisfying release. However, some things should never be discussed on a public media forum for the simple reason that anyone could see it.

    Car accidents and collision injuries are two such cases where the less said, the better.

    How Social Media Can Wreck Your Claim

    popular social media platform icons

    Handling a car accident claim can be a scary and confusing experience for anyone. However, to protect yourself and secure a strong argument for an injury claim, you must know what to do after a car wreck and you should avoid doing in the aftermath of the collision.

    It is important to realize that insurance companies will exploit every opportunity they can find to deny or lessen an injury claim—this includes details that you give them via public forums. Therefore, an essential rule to follow is to refrain from posting evidence that can be used against you. In other words, do not post any details of your accident on any form of social media, because the defense attorney and insurance company will:

    • Demand access to your account. A defense attorney has the right to access your public accounts to gather evidence that may pertain to his case.
       
    • Gather evidence. Relevant information can include photos (both of the accident as well as any personal photos of you after the accident), timeline posts, conversations between friends, and location check-ins. 
       
    • Use your posts against you. Any information relating to your accident that you have publicly shared can be used to cast doubt on your claim. If you shared a photo of you dancing at a club, the defense could argue that your injuries are obviously not severe. If you posted a Tweet seconds before the collision, the defense might argue that you may have been at-fault for the accident…and so on.

    To ensure that you don’t sabotage or jeopardize your injury claim, be sure to keep all details of your accident off public forums. Keep in mind that once you have posted something, it’s unethical for an attorney to advise you to delete it as that would constitute destruction of evidence. Therefore, before uploading anything or discussing any aspect of your accident publicly, make sure you speak to an attorney first. He will advise you on what you can and cannot post.

    For more information on pursuing a car accident injury claim, contact our office today at 615-807-7900 or get your our FREE guide for personal injury cases in Tennessee. We are eager to help you build a strong case. Call today to see how we can help.

  • When should I settle my car accident case?

    In Tennessee, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance pays for any lost income and medical costs arising from an accident, and insurers may offer a fast settlement in order to close the case quickly. However, it is important for victims to realize that they will give up their rights to any additional claims stemming from the same accident once they accept a settlement, so they should weigh their options carefully before agreeing to a deal.

    Factors to Consider Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement

    If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, it is likely that the insurance company responsible for covering your crash costs will offer you a settlement to resolve your case. Insurers and injury victims can negotiate settlement amounts throughout the claims process and even during a trial, and the vast majority of cases will be settled before ever proceeding to court. It may even be to your advantage to settle, as it allows you to end the dispute without taking the risk of losing at trial.

    That said, before you accept or refuse a settlement offer, you should take into account:

    • Whether your injuries are likely to improve. You should never accept a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries. An initial settlement may be offered just a few weeks after the crash, and it may be months before you know whether you will be able to return to work or live with permanent limitations. If you feel that an insurance company is rushing you to accept an offer, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
    • The sum total of your accident costs. The amount of losses in an accident can quickly spiral into the thousands, especially if the victim has been unable to work. Victims will need to gather many different documents to calculate the amount of lost time from work, lost bonuses and sick days, property damage, hospital and outpatient appointments, mileage to medical appointments, rehabilitation, psychological treatment, and out-of-pocket costs.
    • The amount of your future losses. Your injuries may require ongoing medical care, affect your future health, and severely hinder your ability to earn a living. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for victims to estimate the amount of potential financial losses, and they will need to consult with an attorney to properly value their cases.
    • Your pain and suffering. Juries have the ability to award pain and suffering (called non-economic damages) of tens of thousands of dollars for emotional, physical, and psychiatric distress caused by the accident. However, most insurers will not offer an amount to cover pain and suffering unless they think the victim has a good chance of winning at trial.
    • The strength of your case. Insurers’ offers are based not just on the sum total of your losses, but on the likelihood each side has of winning at trial. If the at-fault driver was intoxicated, has a poor driving record, or has a history of negligent driving, the insurer may be more likely to settle because the jury may side with the victim. Similarly, if your medical records show extensive injuries or permanent disability, the jury may be more willing to award higher pain and suffering damages.
    • What your goals are. It is important to determine what the best outcome would be, as well as the minimum amount you would be willing to accept. Some victims may be concerned with their ability to support their families after an injury, while others are looking for closure after losing a loved one in the crash. Settlements often give victims more control over the terms in the outcome of their case, such as requiring a formal apology or other non-monetary compensation.

    If an insurance company has offered you a settlement, we can evaluate whether the amount will meet your needs and gather the necessary documents to enter into negotiation. Whether we are able to secure you a settlement or your case proceeds to trial, our experienced car accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • What is a focus group and why is it important?

    One of the biggest challenges for a victim in a personal injury case is deciding whether to accept a settlement or take a case to trial. It can be tempting to accept a lower settlement rather than risk receiving nothing at all by going to trial—and many victims make this decision based solely on an attorney’s advice. However, our attorneys offer an additional strategy to get our clients the best possible resolution to their case. By convening focus groups, we get an idea of what to expect in court, strengthening both our client’s case and bargaining position.

    Our Focus Groups Give Us Additional Insight Into Each Accident Case

    At GriffithLaw, we will often gather members of the community together in a focus group to conduct a mock-trial of a case. We may present evidence, visual aids, and testimonies in exactly the same way we would in court, encouraging members of the group to ask questions and offer their opinions. The “jury” will deliberate, offer its decision, and tell us the amount of damages they would award our client if they were assigned to hear the case. This is not something all attorneys do.

    It should be noted that a focus group is not a foolproof prediction of what will happen at trial. There are too many variables (including the judge, defense attorney, and jury pool) to predict exactly what will happen in court. That said, focus groups can be invaluable when it comes to testing different presentation strategies, knowing how we should present the information that matters most to jurors, and applying the information we gather to negotiate a better settlement.

    For us, a focus group is an opportunity to:

    • Get inside the mind of the jury. No matter how much preparation attorneys do, they can never be certain how a jury will feel about any particular case. Focus groups get opinions from a mixed group of people with no relation to anyone in the case, giving attorneys insight on how others might approach and interpret the facts.
    • Listen to deliberation. While people involved in a case are not allowed to listen to a real jury deliberate, attorneys may watch focus group deliberations via recording session. By listening to the conversation, attorneys can identify which evidence is most important, which jury members are likely to side with the victim, and major factors that lead the jury to make its final ruling.
    • Identify potential weaknesses and biases. Most attorneys will be able to identify the weaknesses in their own cases. However, watching the focus group allows them to see how much weight is given to weaker elements of the case. Attorneys may also notice that some individuals are more likely to be biased against their clients, giving them an insight into jury selection.
    • Hone our arguments. An attorney’s presentation of the case can vary greatly before and after a focus group. The focus group’s questions can add depth to the original preparation, or it can inspire us to take a completely different approach to presenting the case.
    • Estimate damages. Attorneys can meticulously detail the costs of an injury, but in the end, the amount of damages in a car accident case is up to the jury. It is not uncommon for juries, victims, and attorneys to have varying opinions on what the amount of damages should be, and convening a focus group is an opportunity to get all parties on the same page. For example, if a victim refuses to settle for anything less than $500,000, but is awarded only $200,000 by a focus group, he or she may be more likely to accept a $300,000 settlement when it is offered by an insurer.
    • Save time. A focus group offers both attorneys and victims an opportunity to resolve a case more quickly. First, they will know exactly which parts of the case are most relevant to the jury. Second, they will be able to judge with confidence whether a settlement offer is fair. Finally, they will be able to gauge the likelihood of winning the case in court, taking some of the risk out of proceeding to trial.

    The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • What do I need to prove to win my car accident case?

    No matter how straightforward the details of your case may seem, you will still have to make a clear case of negligence in order to get compensation after a crash. It all comes down to what you can prove and what you use to prove it, making the quality of your evidence vital to winning your case.

    How to Prove Negligence in an Injury Claim

    Most state laws provide a framework of what must be proved in order to recover compensation in an injury case. In order to prevail in a Tennessee car accident claim, you will have to prove the following:

    • You were owed a duty of care. The other party who is named in your lawsuit must have owed you consideration for your safety, called a “duty of care.” A driver who struck you owes you a duty of care, since all road users have a duty to obey local traffic ordinances and drive as safely as possible. If you are suing someone other than a driver, you must establish that he or she owed you a duty of care.
    • The negligent party breached the duty of care. Once you have shown that someone owed you a degree of safety, you must show that his or her actions were in violation of that duty. This proof hinges on showing that a reasonable person would not have acted as the negligent party did. Common breaches of care can include distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, tailgating, or road rage.
    • The breach of care resulted in your injury. It is not enough to show that a driver was negligent, or even that a driver’s negligence caused an accident. You must also prove that the negligent party’s actions directly caused your injuries and property losses. This may be difficult for a victim who suffered aggravation to a previous injury, as they will have to show that the accident was the primary cause of the injury becoming worse.
    • The breach of care resulted in financial losses. In order to recover the costs of an accident, you must prove that all of the losses you are claiming are directly related to the crash. This can include property damage (such as the cost for repairs to a vehicle), costs related to your injuries (such as medical bills and rehabilitation), and income losses (including the wages you were unable to earn while you were out of work).
    • You were less than 50% to blame for the accident. Tennessee injury cases rely on a system of modified comparative negligence. Simply put, this means that a victim can recover damages even if he or she shared some of the fault for the accident; however, damages will be reduced by each party’s percentage of blame. In addition, state law requires that accident victims can only collect damages if they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. If you are more than 50% to blame, you will not be eligible to receive any payment in your injury claim.

    Evidence That Can Help You Win Your Car Accident Case

    All of the evidence you gather should have one goal: proving one (or more) of the factors above. Pictures and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and road conditions are an effective way to demonstrate the extent of injury and financial loss. Physical evidence, such as the clothes you were wearing at the time of the crash, can show the extent of physical and emotional trauma. Police reports are inadmissible as evidence in the state of Tennessee. On the other hand, the reports can be used to track down witnesses, recreate the scene, and serve as leads for gathering other forms of evidence (such as a police officer’s or eyewitness’s testimony). Finally, statements from repair shops and medical providers are necessary to provide an accurate estimate of your accident costs.

    If you have been injured in a car accident, we can help you collect evidence of your injury costs, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have the attorneys at GriffithLaw explain your rights in your free case evaluation, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case

  • Why are teen drivers more likely to cause car crashes than other age groups?

    All parents want to keep children safe in car accidents, even if the child is the one who is driving. Unfortunately, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S., and teenage drivers have some of the highest accident ratings of any age group.

    Teen Driver Behaviors That Put All Road Users at Risk

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,333 teenagers in the United States between the ages of 16 and 19 died in 2015, and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for car accident injuries the previous year. On average, six teenagers die every day as a result of crashes, whether they are behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.

    Research from the CDC points to a few key reasons teen drivers are likely to be involved in car accidents:

    • Lack of experience. Teen drivers have triple the fatal crash risk of older drivers, in part because they do not have the skills to recognize and avoid road hazards. Teens often spot hazardous situations (such as wet roads or cars stopped on the shoulder) later than more experienced drivers, and they are also more likely to underestimate the dangers of a potentially harmful situation and make a critical error that leads to a crash. The risk of an accident is highest during the first few months after the teen has gotten his or her license, and decreases as the driver gains experience on the road.
       
    • Distractions. Drivers under age 20 have the highest rates of distraction-related fatalities in the nation, especially those who text and use cellphones while driving. In 2015, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) found that 42% of high school students who had driven in the past 30 days admitted to sending a text or email while driving. Students who admitted to frequent texting were also more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as drinking.
       
    • Driving with friends. Researchers have discovered a link between the number of teen passengers and increased crash risk when an unsupervised teenager is driving. Fortunately, Tennessee’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program has rules in place to prevent teenagers who are still learning from carrying too many passengers. Those driving with a learner’s permit may only drive with a licensed driver over 21 in the front seat, and those with an intermediate license (Level II) may only have one passenger in the car.
       
    • Speeding. Teens are likelier to engage in activities that make it difficult to stop suddenly, including speeding and following too closely behind another vehicle. Risk-taking behavior increases with male teen drivers, especially if there are male passengers.
       
    • Weekend and night driving. Teenagers whose licenses no longer have night-driving restrictions are at significant risk of suffering fatal accidents. In 2014, half of all teenage deaths from car crashes took place between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight. Weekends were also particularly deadly, with 53% of fatalities occurring on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
       
    • Drinking and drug use. Over a million high school teens drink alcohol and get behind the wheel every year. One survey from 2015 found that 20% of teenagers admitted to riding with a driver in the previous month who had been drinking alcohol. In 2014, 17% of drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 who were involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher.
       
    • Lax seat belt use. Teenagers have some of the lowest rates of seat belt use when compared with other age groups. A 2015 survey discovered that only 61% of high school students always wear seat belts when riding with another person. Teen drivers with involved parents were twice as likely to wear seat belts regularly.

    If you have questions after being injured in an accident, the attorneys at GriffithLaw will listen to your story and explain your rights in your free case evaluation. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to get started, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • What 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?

    car accident medical specialistMany 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 injured in a wreck in Tennessee, our car accident lawyers 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.

  • I was seriously injured in a rear-end collision. How can I tell who was responsible for the accident?

    Man holding neck after rear-end collisionThe most common car accident types can be broken down into three categories: head-on collisions, side impact or T-bone collisions, and rear-end collisions. Head-on and T-bone accidents are the most life-threatening types of collisions as the points of impact are located near the driver and passengers. However, rear-end collisions can also cause serious injury and it may be difficult to determine liability in these kinds of crashes.

    Liability in Rear-end Collisions

    Tennessee is a “modified-fault” state. This means that if a driver’s actions are found to be completely responsible for the accident, he will be held accountable for all damages. However, if he or his insurance company can prove that your actions contributed to the collision, you may be held partially liable for your own injuries.

    In rear-end collision investigations, liability usually falls on the driver of the rear vehicle. The basic notion is that the rear driver failed in his duties as a responsible driver by:

    • Paying attention to traffic ahead. If he were paying attention, he would have been able to stop before crashing into the car ahead of him.
    • Driving at a controllable speed. If he was in control of his vehicle, he should have been able to stop in plenty of time to avoid a collision.
    • Maintaining an adequate braking distance. If he was driving normally, paying attention and allowing a safe two-car stopping distance between his bumper and the car in front of him, he should have had enough time and distance to stop completely before a collision occurred.

    Although these assumptions are reasonable explanations for liability, there are a few exceptions. In other words, there are instances where you could be held accountable even though you were hit from behind. These instances include slamming on your brakes with no warning, cutting in front of another driver when there wasn’t enough room, or committing any other negligent action that deliberately put you and other drivers at risk for a collision.

    Types of Injuries Suffered in Rear-End Collisions

    Injuries suffered when your car is hit from behind are often less severe than those resulting from head-on collisions or even side-impact crashes. However, rear-end collisions can cause injuries resulting in chronic pain and suffering. Often these injuries involve soft-tissue damage, which can be difficult to prove to an insurance adjuster. You will need to seek medical treatment and keep careful record of your doctor visits, diagnosis, treatments, and physical therapy appointments. The most common injuries caused by rear-end collisions include the following:

    • Whiplash. Whiplash occurs when a tremendous force causes the neck to over-extend. This over-extension causes muscles and ligaments to stretch or even tear. Even though it’s not a life-threatening injury, it can cause prolonged periods of pain, discomfort, and the inability to move the neck. 
    • Back trauma. Depending on the severity of the collision, occupants’ backs can be injured, causing severe bruising or even spinal damage. If the force was great enough to cause spinal trauma, the consequences of the injury can range from pain and numbness to partial or complete paralysis.
    • Facial damage. In addition to causing whiplash, the force of a rear-end collision can cause the driver or passenger to smash his face into the steering wheel or console. This impact can lead to broken orbital (bones around the eye) or cheek bones, collapsed nasal passages, and fractured jaws.

    Precautionary Steps to Protect Your Rights

    You never know when you may need a helping hand. Don’t allow an insurance company to lay the fault at your feet or take advantage of your confusion. An experienced car accident attorney will help you strengthen your case by documenting your injuries. Allow attorney John L. Griffith to protect you and your rights. You can also download our FREE guide on handling personal injury cases for additional insights and guidance into car accident injury claims.