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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Can injured police officers or emergency responders file a lawsuit if they are hurt on the job?
Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are all entitled to workers' compensation benefits when they are injured on the job. Unfortunately, these injuries are often severe due to the nature of their work, and the financial losses incurred may go beyond the payments provided by workers' compensation. In these cases, it is worth considering a third-party personal injury claim against a negligent party.
On-Duty Injuries That Could Lead to a Third-Party Claim
Emergency responders and police officers may file a claim against members of the public if they have suffered:
- Violence. Police officers may suffer acts of violence as they attempt to keep the peace, including animal attacks, stabbing incidents, shootings, or fatal injuries.
- Falls. A slip, trip, or fall can result in injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to head trauma and spinal cord injuries from falling from a height (such as a collapsing building).
- Car accidents. EMTs may be struck by passing cars while administering to victims at a crash scene. In these cases, responders may sue an at-fault driver to recover the costs of their injuries.
- Overexertion injuries. Long hours and daily stress can take a high physical and mental toll on the body. First responders may be owed compensation for heart problems or damage to tendons, ligaments, or joints sustained in the course of their duties.
- Struck-by injuries. Officers attempting to make an arrest may be struck with weapons or heavy objects, resulting in broken bones, back injuries, crush injuries, or nerve damage.
- Exposure to harmful substances. Exposure to chemicals, toxins, drug components, or radiation can have long-lasting effects on a worker. In addition to lung damage and chemical burns, some hazards can result in the formation of certain cancers or an inability to bear children.
- Fires and explosions. Home and commercial fires place responders at risk of smoke inhalation, burns and scarring, and severe emotional trauma. Firefighters may take action against a property owner if they suffered injuries due to building code violations, arson, or other forms of negligence.
If you have suffered a serious injury in the line of duty, our lawyers can discuss your next steps in your free initial consultation—and we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, please fill out the short contact form on this page or download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Is it ethical for me to refer my case to another attorney?
It speaks highly of our fellow attorneys that they consider the ethics of accepting referral fees. Rest assured, Rule 1.5(e) of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct permits contingent fees to be divided between two (or more) law firms as long as the client has given written consent. In addition to providing you with payment for any legal services you have already provided, a referral may also be better for your client's case.
Referring Your Case Allows You to Keep Your Promise to Your Client
Some attorneys know that a case is not a good fit for them from the first phone call, while others may realize it only after spending a great deal of time and effort on the case. Unfortunately, the decision to refer the case out only gets harder as time goes on, potentially risking your relationship with a client who views you as a trusted advisor.
If your top concern is the best outcome for your client, it is far more ethical to refer a case that needs additional work to us than risk losing in court. Our dedication to your client and your professional reputation is reflected in our:
- Written fee agreement. Our fee agreement details the percentage of each law firm’s fees in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Tennessee. It is signed by you, your client, and a lawyer from our firm, ensuring full compliance with the ethics rules concerning fee division.
- Service to your client. Some lawyers will continue to represent a client even if they cannot afford the increasing costs of going to court. As an experienced trial attorney, John Griffith will not hesitate to put the full force of the firm’s resources into hiring expert witnesses, creating exhibits or demonstrations for evidence, or using focus groups if it will benefit a client’s personal injury case.
- Adherence to contingency laws. Upon successful resolution of the case, we issue a percentage of the contingent fee as payment to referring attorneys. If there is no recovery, no referral fee is paid.
No matter what point your personal injury or wrongful death case has reached, GriffithLaw will accept any referral that we feel will benefit our peers and their clients. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or give us a call at (615) 823-8233 to learn more about partnering with our firm.
What Do I Have to Do to Earn a Referral Fee?
Some lawyers put a great deal of work into attracting a potential client and learning more about their case, only to discover that the case is not a good fit for their firm. Instead of “writing off” all of that time and effort, Tennessee law allows lawyers to earn a fee simply by referring a valid case to a fellow attorney. As a personal injury trial attorney, John Griffith routinely works with other firms to provide accident victims with the quality representation they need.
How Our Referral Process Works
One of the benefits of referring your case to GriffithLaw is that it allows you to be as involved in the case process as you like. Your active participation in the case is not necessary to earn a referral fee. The only thing you have to do is call us at (615) 823-8233 or use our online contact form and tell us a little about the case.
If we decide that the case is a good fit for us, we will:
- Enter into a written fee agreement. We will work out a shared fee agreement at the beginning of the case, outlining our role and responsibilities. It will also state your responsibilities if you wish to act as co-counsel with us.
- Invite you to be a part of proceedings. We will notify you of the date and times of all client meetings, depositions, hearings, and trial, which you are welcome (but not required) to attend.
- Keep you updated on our progress. Unless you prefer otherwise, our firm will copy you on all relevant correspondence and decisions in the case by phone or email.
- Ensure timely payment of fees. Once the case is settled, we will issue a referral fee payment to your firm in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Tennessee.
GriffithLaw is honored to accept referrals from attorneys nationwide, offering our skills and resources to benefit both your client and your professional reputation. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or give us a call at (615) 823-8233 to learn more about partnering with our firm.
Could a traumatic brain injury have long-lasting effects?
When a person suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the brain immediately takes action to repair the damage how ever it can. Some patients will lose consciousness, while others will experience memory lapses or headaches as the brain undergoes the healing process. While many of these symptoms will resolve with time, some patients will be forced to cope with brain injury complications long after the initial accident.
Conditions More Likely to Occur in Patients With Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injury complications can have a profound effect on your life. They can interfere with every aspect of your daily life, preventing you from earning a living, maintaining personal relationships, and doing the things you used to enjoy.
Complications that might be more likely after a brain injury include:
- Vision disturbances. Even if the eyes were not directly damaged in the accident, the patient could suffer vision problems due to the brain’s inability to “read” information taken in by the eyes. TBI patients may suffer eye complications years after the initial injury, including blurry vision, double vision, or problems getting their eyes to focus.
- Seizures. Patients with TBI are at high risk of developing seizures in later life, and a few may develop sustained seizure disorders (such as post-traumatic epilepsy).
- Spasticity. Severe brain injuries can cause a painful tightening of certain muscles in the body, such as a contracture of the arm that forced a victim's hand up to the shoulder. Spasticity not only often prevents the use of the affected body part, but it also makes certain tasks administered by a caregiver (such as dressing or bathing) more difficult.
- Depression or anxiety. The trauma and emotional upheaval of a brain injury can lead to increased depression, anxiety, and mental suffering. Some patients may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that can require cognitive behavioral therapy.
If someone in your family has suffered a severe head injury, our attorneys can listen to the details of your case and discover who may be liable—and we do not collect anything from you until after your case is won. 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.
How long do I have to file my Tennessee personal injury accident case?
Every state has its own filing deadlines for specific kinds of cases, known as the statute of limitations. According to Tennessee Law, all personal injury claims (including car accidents, slip and falls, and medical malpractice claims) have a statute of limitations of one year from the date of the initial incident. If victims do not take legal action against a liable party within this time period, the case may be dismissed, and the victims will not be compensated. However, there are a few exceptions.
Exceptions to the One-Year Filing Deadline in a Personal Injury Case
Although the statute of limitations may vary depending on the details of your case, it is always better to speak with an attorney sooner rather than later. A Tennessee personal injury lawyer can examine the circumstances of your accident, begin investigations on your behalf, and gather evidence before it is lost or destroyed. No matter what type of injury you have suffered, it is generally best to get your claim filed as soon as possible.
That said, victims may have a longer period of time to bring a personal injury lawsuit if the claim involves:
- Minors. If a child has been injured, he or she has the right to reach legal adulthood before pursuing an injury case. All children under the age of 18 have until their 19th birthday to file a lawsuit, regardless of their age when the injury occurred.
- Medical malpractice. Some injuries can take months or even years to fully manifest, and victims should not be penalized if their injuries are not immediately apparent. Tennessee’s discovery rule extended the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases to one year from the date the victim knew (or should have known) that their medical treatment resulted in an injury.
- Criminal charges. If a law enforcement officer or prosecutor filed criminal charges against the negligent person whose conduct directly caused your injury, the statute of limitations for a civil case is extended to two years. For example, if you were in a car accident and the at-fault driver was charged with DUI, you may have two years to bring a personal injury case against the driver. The law also allows the statute of limitations to be extended if the at-fault driver was charged with certain traffic infractions (such as reckless driving or following too closely) in relation to the accident.
- 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, the statute of limitations will either be extended by 120 days or reconfigured to begin on the date of death, rather than the date of the accident.
- 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, the statute of limitations deadline can be extended to make up for this lost time. In addition, the court may assess penalties against a defendant who engages in intentional misrepresentation or concealment, as well as order the defendant to compensate the claimant for losses incurred as a result of the delays.
- Absentee defendants. The person responsible for the victim’s injuries may reside outside the state of Tennessee for a period of time after the underlying accident, but before the lawsuit can be filed. In these cases, the period of absence may not be counted as part of the one-year filing deadline.
Don’t wait for the time limit to expire before learning your legal options! Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to set up a FREE initial consultation, or download a complimentary copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
- The Legal Process of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Paying Taxes on Personal Injury Settlements in Tennessee
- Do I Have to Go to Court For My Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Do I need an attorney to negotiate an insurance settlement after an injury?
While you can legally accept an insurance payout without the help of a lawyer, it is only recommended for those who have minor injuries and losses or who have past experience handling their own legal matters. Negotiating with an insurance company can be a grueling process spanning several months, after which the company may offer a low settlement that you do not want to accept—and you may still need to hire an attorney in order to file a personal injury lawsuit in court.
How to Send a Demand Letter to an Insurance Company
If you choose to negotiate with an insurer yourself, you will have to estimate the full costs of your injury claim and send a demand letter for that amount to the insurance company. The demand letter will need to outline why the insurance carrier is liable for the injuries, the extent of your injuries, the medical treatment you received, and the financial losses linked to the accident for which you are seeking payment.
It is worth noting that insurance agents are extremely skilled at reducing both liability and payments to policyholders, while victims may not have much experience in these matters. Without an attorney on your side, you may not get the full amount you need for your:
- Medical bills. Your settlement should, at the very least, cover any medical expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury. It is vital to keep complete and accurate records of your medical treatment in order to provide the total amount charged by each in your demand letter.
- Lost earnings. Lost earnings include the total amount of income you have lost since the day of the injury, but also the income you will be unable to earn in the future as a result of any disability. For example, if your injury has forced you to work part-time instead of full-time, an insurer may be responsible for making up the difference in your income for the remainder of your work life expectancy (until your date of retirement).
- Pain and suffering. If you have experienced extreme hardship during your recovery or suffered long-term or permanent injury, you will have to show evidence of the negative effects of your injuries in order to get payment for your pain and suffering.
Our personal injury lawyers can review your settlement offer, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and file a lawsuit if an insurer refuses to cover your injury costs—and we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to set up a free initial consultation, or learn more in our free book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What risks do older people face after a brain injury?
Older people are at higher risk of complications after a variety of accidents, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that advanced age is a significant factor in negative outcomes after TBI. Out of approximately 80,000 people over age 65 who visit emergency rooms every year for a head injury, three-quarters of these patients require hospitalization.
Risks for Patients Who Suffer Brain Injuries Later in Life
In 2003, the total cost of treating TBI in patients over age 65 was more than $2.2 billion—a figure that is expected to double as the older population in the U.S. rises to over 70 million by 2030.
Traumatic brain injury is particularly hazardous to older people due to:
- Falls. Falls are the leading cause of TBI in older adults, causing over half of all brain injuries. Older people are more likely to suffer a fall due to mobility problems, impaired vision, medication side effects, and trouble with the feet (such as neuropathy). To make matters worse, seniors are also more likely to suffer a secondary fall if they are admitted to inpatient care, suffering 1.5 falls per bed each year while hospitalized.
- Advanced age risks. The rate of TBI-related hospitalization for adults aged 65 and older is double that of the general population. After age 75, the risk of TBI-related hospitalization and death is four times that of the general population.
- Medical complications. Older people are more likely to have permanent brain injury complications than their younger counterparts, including poor health, balance disorders, depression, and memory problems—any of which may cause them to lose the ability to live independently.
- Higher mortality rates. Many older adult patients are unable to recover from TBI due to the use of blood thinners, aspirin, or other anti-inflammatory medications that cause hematoma or brain bleeds. As a result, adults over age 65 are more likely to die in the first five years after TBI than people in younger age groups.
If someone in your family has suffered a severe head injury, our attorneys can listen to the details of your case and advise you on your rights—and we do not collect anything from you until after your case is won. 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.
How much does an injury attorney charge if we lose the case?
Under our contingency fee agreement, clients are only required to reimburse our law firm for any upfront costs we have paid to pursue the claim (such as court filing fees) if the case isn't successful. However, we offer free consultations specifically to avoid this outcome, advising you as quickly as possible on the strength of your case.
Our Fee System Is Built for the Benefit of Injury Victims
Many injury victims are struggling financially when they come to us, having been forced to bear the burden of unforeseen medical bills and lost income due to an accident. Our contingent fee arrangement allows us to best serve our injury clients because it allows us to:
- Start work immediately. No two injury cases are alike, and it is vital that accident victims contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to preserve valuable evidence and determine negligence. As we do not collect any payment up front, victims do not have to wait until they have saved up considerable financial resources in order to get a fair chance at justice.
- Offer a settlement. In most cases, our attorneys are able to negotiate a settlement with an insurer to avoid losing a case outright. Even if your case settles for less than you originally sought, you may be better off than if you had risked losing your case in court.
- Give you peace of mind. No matter what the outcome of your case, you will have had the opportunity to take legal action against a negligent party or insurer with an experienced injury attorney. This simple fact can be invaluable to victims and families years down the road—long after the statute of limitations has expired—who may wonder if they could have gotten compensation if they had sought the help of an attorney.
For more information on your rights after an accident, 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.
Can I get in trouble for lying on interrogatories?
In the initial stages of a lawsuit, attorneys in the case will send interrogatories to the opposing party to get more information on the relevant issues. Interrogatories are simply a series of written questions used to understand the details of the case. However, each party responding to interrogatories must sign a statement to swear that his or her responses are true—and failure to tell the truth can have serious consequences.
The Dangers of Lying on Interrogatories
The most damaging thing that can happen if someone lies on interrogatories is that they can be punished by the judge at trial. When the truth is discovered, the judge may impose a fine, assign additional litigation costs, or dismiss the case entirely if it was brought by the party who provided false information. If the party lies repeatedly or has been deliberately dishonest about material facts in the case, the judge may initiate a perjury charge.
Even if a party escapes punishment for lying on an interrogatory, the untruth can still hurt the party if it is discovered during trial. Any amount of misinformation has the potential to bring the party’s character and actions into question, and attorneys are well-trained to spot any discrepancies or potential falsehoods during depositions.
The amount of harm a lie can do to a case will depend on the circumstances, such as:
- Whether the untruth was intentional. People may give a false response by mistake, such as when he or she is tired or simply filled in the wrong line on a form.
- What the untruth was about. False information about a relatively minor factor in the case may not have as much of an impact as a lie about a crucial point.
- Whether there were multiple untruths. If an attorney detects one lie, he or she may scrutinize everything you say in an attempt to uncover further dishonesty.
- How the party reacted when confronted with the untruth. Attorneys will typically ask the same question multiple times, giving the responder several attempts to correct misinformation.
Even if you know the importance of always telling the truth in your injury case, you cannot control how the opposing party in your case will answer questions on his or her interrogatories. If you suspect that the person you are suing has made false statements, you should share your suspicions with your lawyer so that he or she can investigate the claim and provide evidence of the truth in court.
For more information on your rights after an accident, 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.
Should I hire a lawyer back home or in the state where I was injured?
When you are injured on vacation in Tennessee, you might be tempted to return home before seeking the advice of an attorney. You may be waiting because you are not sure how serious the effects of the injury are, have used a particular an attorney in your home state in the past, or simply want to enjoy what little is left of your trip. However, one of the best things you can do to protect your injury case is see an attorney before leaving the state.
Jurisdiction Laws Can Affect Your Vacation Accident Claim
Most courts require injury cases to be filed in the state where the accident occurred. Known as jurisdiction, these laws dictate where the case will be heard and who will have the ability to argue the claim. Each state has its own rules about where the case can be filed—and these laws can also dictate which lawyers can pursue the claim.
While a lawyer from your home state may be able to represent you, he or she may face complications due to:
- Licensing. Attorneys are granted the ability to practice law on a state-by-state basis. In most cases, lawyers must pass the bar exam in each state in which he or she wishes to practice. For example, an attorney in Oregon may not have a license to practice in Tennessee. If you retain this attorney, he or she may be granted a limited law license to represent a client in the Tennessee court system for one case only. However, this may require the Oregon attorney to work with an in-house counsel—in other words, a local lawyer who can represent the client’s interests. If you may need to work with a Tennessee injury attorney regardless of whether you have a lawyer at home, meeting with one before you leave the state could strengthen your case.
- Local laws. Even if your at-home attorney has the ability to represent you in a Tennessee court case, it does not mean that he or she is familiar with local and state laws. State statutes and penalties can vary widely depending on where the accident occurs, and a local attorney has a better chance of knowing which laws apply and what complications are likely to arise in your case.
- Time constraints. Tennessee has an extremely short statute of limitations to bring an injury claim, and victims need to take action quickly to ensure that their cases will be heard. An out-of-state attorney may not have the same familiarity with Tennessee filing deadlines and state judicial requirements as a local lawyer, running the risk that your case will become invalid.
Our Tennessee injury attorneys fight tenaciously to get the maximum amount of compensation you need to recover—and we do not collect anything from you until after your case is won. 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.