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 do I have to file my personal injury accident case?

    The clock is ticking graphicA statute of limitations is a designated period of time that someone has to take legal action against a liable party. Every state has its own filing deadlines for specific kinds of cases. It is important that you know how long you have to file a personal injury claim in Tennessee following a car accident. According to Tennessee Code § 28-3-104, personal tort actions (including injury claims) have a statute of limitations of one year from the date of the initial incident.

    There Are Exceptions

    Exceptions to the one-year statute of limitations can be made based on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of the injuries, as follows:

    • Instances of disability. If the accident in question results in permanent disability or mental incompetence of the claimant, whereupon the victim cannot make legal decisions based on his injuries, next of kin can file a claim on his behalf. However, since determining competency and surrogate rights can take time, Tennessee courts will consider the delay and potentially extend the statute of limitation by 120 days.
    • Wrongful death. In cases where the victim is deceased, whether by cause of the initial accident or by injuries sustained from the accident, the one-year statute of limitations may be extended. Since death may not be immediate, family members cannot be expected to file a claim based on the accident date. Therefore, in these situations, the statute of limitations will either be extended by 120 days, or reconfigured to begin not on the date of the accident, but rather on the date of death.
    • Instances of wrongful concealment. Since the defendant in an injury claim can use the statute of limitations deadline as a defense to have the case dismissed, it stands to reason that prolonging the claim is in his best interest. However, if a defendant willfully or maliciously withholds evidence needed to complete a claim, he’ll be subject to penalties. Therefore, in addition to penalties, the court may also extend the statute of limitations deadline to compensate the claimant for time lost as a result of the defendant’s actions. 

    File Early for a Strong Claim

    Need more information and advice regarding your injury claim? Contact us today for a FREE consultation about whether you're entitled to damages or compensation for your injuries. We can help you build a strong claim. Remember, time is not on your side.

    Share this article via Facebook, Twitter, or email to provide them with the information they need to secure their claim. For additional resources, download your complimentary copy of John Griffith’s free personal injury case guide, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • What steps should I take to protect myself while driving when I am pregnant?

    Pregnant woman behind the wheel of a car looking worriedYou have a lot of things to worry about when you are pregnant, including the risk of being injured in a car accident. Learn more about how to keep yourself safe, what harm can be done in a car crash, and what legal options you have following a crash here.

    Staying Safe Behind the Wheel When You Are Pregnant

    Many health care providers overlook the importance of proper vehicle positioning during pregnancy. However, hundreds of expectant mothers suffer miscarriages as a result of improper belt and steering wheel placements putting too much stress on the baby. To protect yourself and your unborn child, make sure that you know how to safely position yourself and your restraints when driving and riding in a vehicle. The following are suggested belt and seat positions for pregnant women:

    • Never ride in a moving vehicle without a full lap and shoulder belt.
    • Sit as far away from the steering wheel as possible, while still being able to safely reach the pedals.
    • Wear the belt as tightly as possible while remaining comfortable.
    • Position the belt so that the diagonal strap rests on the shoulder (not neck) and lies between the breasts, but over the breastbone. The lap belt should rest on the thighs, above the pelvis, but beneath the abdomen. In no circumstances should the strap rest on or cross the stomach.

    Seek Care After A Car Accident While Pregnant

    A car accident, whether minor or severe, can result in serious pregnancy complications. In addition to external injuries, the trauma of a collision can cause after-effects which can include increased risks for:

    • Premature labor
    • Internal bleeding
    • Birth defects
    • Growth retardation (slowed growth rate)
    • Elevated stress levels and blood pressure
    • Pre-eclampsia
    • Placental damage

    Considering the risks involved, your number-one priority following a car collision should be the protection of your baby. It doesn’t matter if the collision was just a fender bender, if you or your baby suffered the jolting effects of a collision, you need to verify that everything is normal with your pregnancy.

    When you’re examined after a car accident, you should expect your physician to order tests, ultrasounds, and electronic fetal monitoring to check the position and health of the baby. Once the exams and tests are finished, your doctor may suggest bed rest for the remainder of your pregnancy to prevent any further trauma.

    Legal Options

    After seeking medical attention, you can begin to tackle the legal side of liability and damage compensation. A personal injury claim can not only help pay for medical bills and property damage but, depending on the circumstances, may also cover pain and emotional suffering that resulted from the trauma.

    For a more thorough discussion on your options for injury recovery following a collision, contact us directly at 877-959-8847. We’ll be happy to discuss your case in more personal detail and recommend the best options for pursuing a claim.

    Did this information answer your questions? Connect with us on Facebook and let us know. While you wait to schedule your review, feel free to download and read our FREE report, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case for more insights into how to handle your claim.

  • I was injured as a passenger in a car accident. What are my rights to a recovery?

    Three women passengers in the back seat of a carThe more passengers there are in a car, the higher the risk for collision injuries. In fact, the driver’s natural instinct for self-preservation often places passengers in harm’s way. To avoid a collision, a driver will instinctively turn the steering wheel away from the oncoming obstacle and inadvertently move the passengers directly into the obstacle’s path.

    According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 20,000 passengers were killed as a result of car accident injuries, while driver fatalities numbered 15,000. Despite this discrepancy, accident injury information tends to be geared towards drivers, not passengers. In this article, we will help you understand your rights and options for injury claims as a passenger hurt in a car accident.

    Determining Fault

    To pursue a successful injury claim for any accident, the two fundamentals you need to prove are fault and injury severity. Tennessee law does not usually recognize passenger liability in car accidents (unless the passenger purposefully grabbed the wheel). Therefore, there is no need to prove your innocence. However, although you’re clearly not responsible, the insurance company will demand verification as to which party was at fault. In these types of situations, as a passenger, you have several possible avenues through which to seek compensation. These include:

    • Your driver. The driver of the vehicle in which you were the passenger could be held liable by all parties (other driver and other passengers) if his negligence led to the collision. Although you may not want to accuse a friend or loved one of causing your injuries, a claim against him may be your only option for recovery.
    • The other driver. If the driver of the vehicle that crashed into you is determined to be at fault, you are eligible to file a claim against him and his insurance company for damages.
    • Third party negligence. In a case where an outside factor (Construction, road damage) caused or contributed to the collision, you may be able to pursue a claim against a third party. For example, if a company did not install appropriate flashing lights, orange barrels, or other warning signs to indicate a hazard, the road construction company may be considered liable for your resulting injuries.
    • Personal insurance. By default, Tennessee auto insurance policies include coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists. Therefore, if the liable party does not have the insurance to cover his negligent responsibilities, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages due to your injuries.
    • All of the above. Tennessee is a fault state; meaning that those responsible for your injuries are liable for your damages. It also means that liability can be divided among multiple parties, each party being responsible for the percentage of the damages for which he was found liable.

    Filing the Claim

    When pursuing a car accident injury claim, whether you were the driver, passenger, or pedestrian, as a victim, you’ll need help filing your claim, understanding your rights, and convincing the insurance company that your injuries require a fair settlement. At GriffithLaw, we’re here to give you the guidance and support you need to pursue a successful personal injury claim. Call 615-807-7900 to schedule your FREE consultation today!

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

  • 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 877-959-8847. 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 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.

  • 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.