General Personal Injury FAQs

Here we address common questions our attorneys are asked about personal injury matters in Tennessee that may not apply to a specific type of accident such as a car wreck, slip and fall, or dog bite. 
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  • Can I wait a day or two before going to the doctor after an injury?

    doctor talking to patientSome accident victims suffer significant pain right after an accident, and others are taken immediately from the scene by ambulance. However, those lucky enough to walk away from a crash may be tempted to skip a visit to the emergency room. It’s important for these victims to know that accident injuries cannot always be seen by the naked eye—and injuries that remain untreated could have long-term (or deadly) effects.

    Why It’s Important to Get Prompt Medical Care After an Injury

    As a personal injury trial attorney, I always recommend that accident victims receive medical attention on the same day as the accident. The longer you wait, the worse it could be for your:  

    • Health. Your health is the most important thing you have, and it should be your highest priority after an accident. If you are hurt, no matter how minor your injuries seem, you should not wait to get medical help.
    • Insurance coverage. The bills for your medical treatment are vital proof of your injuries for the insurance company. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will have the necessary evidence to negotiate a settlement of your claim. This includes prompt emergency treatment but also avoiding any gaps in your follow-up doctor visits.
    • Personal injury lawsuit. In order for your personal injury claim to be successful, you will have to show that your injuries were caused by the accident. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more likely it is that that the insurance company will argue that 1) you were not seriously injured or 2) that something else caused your injuries.

    Insurers have a dedicated team of lawyers to fight and defeat injury claims, so it is vital that you have your own attorney by your side. If you suffered a serious injury, the legal team at GriffithLaw would be honored to fight on your behalf. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or give us a call at (615) 823-8233 to learn more.

  • Is there a difference between left brain and right brain injuries?

    sketch of left and right hemispheres of the brainThe brain is your body’s computer, performing all of the functions necessary for human activity. Everything you do—including moving your limbs, understanding social cues, and even breathing—starts as a signal in a specific area of your brain.

    The brain is divided into two halves, known as hemispheres, with each half controlling the movement and sensation for the opposite side of the body. If you were to suffer a brain injury, the location of the impact could play a role in predicting the types of symptoms you may experience.

    What to Expect After a Left-Brain Injury

    The left half of the brain houses your language and communication center. If this area is damaged, you could experience:

    • Difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language
    • Trouble reading and writing
    • Inability to recall certain words
    • Difficulty expressing yourself verbally
    • Depression or anxiety
    • Problems with logic or sequencing
    • Impaired control of the right side of the body

    What to Expect After a Right-Brain Injury

    The right half of the brain governs intuitive functions and helps you put pieces of information together to make a full picture. Trauma to the right side of the brain may result in:

    • Difficulty recognizing or recalling faces
    • Inability to pick up on nonverbal cues
    • Difficulty following spoken or visual patterns (such as interpreting music or art)
    • Trouble expressing or understanding emotions
    • Coordination problems from an impaired sense of distance or spatial arrangement
    • Inability to recognize deficits or judge hazards accurately
    • Changes in creativity or imagination
    • Impaired control of the left side of the body

    There are many symptoms that can arise regardless of where the head trauma occurred. Victims often suffer slowed or impaired cognitive skills, confusion, difficulty concentrating, attention deficits, and other complications that prevent them from earning a living and affect their quality of life. As these accidents can have long-lasting consequences, it is important that you get full payment for your suffering that will last throughout your lifetime.

    At GriffithLaw, we offer brain injury clients a free initial consultation to understand their concerns and explain their legal options. We also represent their interests on a contingent fee basis and do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery. To learn more about your claim, download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Am I liable if I refer a case to you and something goes wrong?

    referrals file folder on computer keyboard

    It can be daunting to refer a client to a fellow attorney. Your reputation is at stake even when everything in the case runs smoothly—but if something goes wrong, your entire law firm could be held accountable.

    How Our Law Firm Protects Against Referral Liability

    The Tennessee Ethics Rule allows division of a reasonable fee between lawyers of different firms only if the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer, or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation. Simply put, you may be held jointly and severally liable if you refer a client to an attorney whose conduct falls below the standard of care. This is exactly why you should refer to your case to GriffithLaw, as we:

    • Have a proven track record. Our attorneys excel in all types of injury cases, getting fair payment for clients throughout Tennessee. We are able to devote adequate staff and financial resources to effectively handle every case we take.
    • Have professional liability insurance. While we stand behind our services, we also have a strong professional liability insurance policy in the unlikely event that any of our clients assert a claim. As some lawyers fail to purchase professional liability insurance (or do not have sufficient insurance to protect themselves from loss), you can rest easy knowing that your role and risk in these actions are mitigated.
    • Stay in constant contact with you. John Griffith believes in every case that comes through the door, regardless of where the client came from. Not only will we tell you upfront whether the case is a good fit for us, but we will also keep you updated throughout the claim to ensure that your client’s wishes are respected and their concerns are addressed.

    No matter what point your personal injury 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) 807-7900 to learn more about partnering with our firm.

  • How can I tell if the case I want to refer is a good fit for GriffithLaw?

    referrals file folderIf you have decided you're not the right lawyer to represent a client, you should consider your next steps very carefully. When it comes to your professional reputation, it's not a question of whether you should refer your cases to other law firms, but which attorney should be entrusted with the client.

    Your Personal Injury Case May Be Perfect for GriffithLaw

    When we accept attorney referrals, we consider it an honor as well as a responsibility and treat your professional standing as if it were our own.

    Your case may be a good fit for us depending on:

    • The strength of the case. Some attorneys may refer out a client simply because they don't believe in their case. This can include clients with difficult personalities or whose motivation for litigation is harassment or unwarranted personal gain. If you aren't willing to take a case on its merits, your colleagues may feel the same.
    • The cause of the accident. Our attorneys excel in all types of injury cases, including traffic accidents, slips and falls, dog bites, aviation accidents, and wrongful death. If a case is outside of the type of work you have done in the past, we may be able to help.
    • The type and extent of the client's injuries. As our case results show, our past clients have been compensated for a wide range of injuries. We have the resources to employ medical experts and create visual aids and exhibits, but we also have the ability to craft arguments that give a full picture of a client's symptoms and the losses they have suffered.
    • The likelihood of going to trial. While some attorneys may shy away from the courtroom, John Griffith has the experience and staff support to take all cases to trial if necessary. He has served in multiple positions within the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association and maintains the highest possible standard of ethics throughout his practice.

    No matter what point your personal injury 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) 807-7900 to learn more about partnering with our firm.

  • Can injured police officers or emergency responders file a lawsuit if they are hurt on the job?

    injured firefighter in firehouse

    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) 807-7900​ to learn more about partnering with our firm.

  • What Do I Have to Do to Earn a Referral Fee?

    scales of justice attorney referralSome 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) 807-7900 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) 807-7900 to learn more about partnering with our firm.

  • Could a traumatic brain injury have long-lasting effects?

    man with headache holding head in handsWhen 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?


    The clock is ticking graphic

    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.

  • Do I need an attorney to negotiate an insurance settlement after an injury?

    two people in suits shaking handsWhile 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.