Funeral Processions and Car Accidents: Who Has The Right of Way?

A Tennessee statute provides that a funeral procession has the right-of-way when the lead vehicle properly identifies the funeral procession by using a flashing amber light or is identified as a police escort or other “properly identified” escort.  A funeral escort may also use a siren and flags to identify the funeral procession. The lead car must comply with stop signs and traffic-control signals such as red lights but the remainder of the funeral procession can proceed without stopping or obeying the traffic signal if each vehicle has its headlights on.  

As with anything else, there are exceptions to the right-of-way rule.  A funeral procession must yield the right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance) with its siren on.  A funeral procession must also yield the right-of-way when directed to do so by any law enforcement officer.

So as to minimize the effect on traffic flow, the funeral procession must maintain minimum speeds.  On a highway, the procession should go no slower than 45.  On other roadways, the procession should not go any slower than 5 mph below the posted speed limit.  A motorist who is following a funeral procession on a two-lane highway must not pass the funeral procession.  Likewise, a motorist confronted with a proper funeral procession must yield the right of way and must not drive or attempt to drive in between the vehicles.

I find that folks in the Tennessee are generally very respectful of funeral processions. But accidents do happen and every motorist should know their responsibilities when proceeding in or confronted with a funeral procession.  If you would like to know your rights with respect to any type of car accident, give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 to talk to one of our award-winning lawyers.  The consultation is free and without obligation and we handle all injury cases on a contingency basis.   

For Kids, the Drunk Driver That Is Likely To Injure or Kill Them Is In Their Own Car

From 2000 to 2010, 2,344 children under the age of 15 were killed in drunk driving accidents. In a whopping two-thirds of those fatal accidents, the children were actually riding with the drunk driver as opposed to the drunk driver being a stranger in another vehicle. Unfortunately, drunk driving was not the only risky behavior found in these accidents. Researchers also found that the children were often not wearing seatbelts or, if appropriate, properly secured in a car seat. 

In Tennessee, since 2004, there have been a total of 74,390 alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. Notably, this figure does not include parking lot and private property crashes or crashes in which the property damage was less than $400.00. 

At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning lawyers are experienced in handling drunk driving accidents. To ensure you receive a complete recovery, we will evaluate all potentially liable parties and all potential claims including liquor liability claims and uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. Click here for more information on drunk driving claims. And, click here for more information on liquor liability or dram shop liability claims. Then, give us a call for a free, no-obligation consultation on your potential case. Call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787. We handle all drunk driving claims on a contingency basis.

Tennessee's Drunk Driving Laws under Scrutiny

Under Tennessee law, a first time DUI offender must spend 48 hours in jail. But a drunk driver convicted of vehicular homicide may receive probation and avoid jail time. Memphis’ Commercial Appeal newspaper has reported three such incidents in which someone under the influence of alcohol who caused a fatal accident spent less time in jail than a first time DUI offender. Under the current law, a judge has wide discretion in sentencing based on a list of 24 factors. Not surprisingly, many find this to be convoluted and are calling for the legislature to fix the apparent loophole. 

Regardless of what the drunk driver is charged with, drunk driving accidents continue to be a problem on Tennessee roadways. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security publishes crash-statistics for alcohol-impaired driver crashes, and the counties with the top 5 crash rankings for 2008-2013 are:

1.       Trousdale County

2.       Decatur County

3.       Bedford County

4.      Perry County

5.      Lincoln County

And during the same time period, the big four counties performed as follows:

1.      Davidson County: 25

2.      Hamilton County: 44

3.      Knox County: 45

4.      Shelby County: 70

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver and would like to discuss your incident with one of our award-winning lawyers in a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787. Click these links for more information on drunk driving accidents and dram shop cases. We handle all drunk driving cases on a contingency basis.

Another Cause of Impaired Driving: Hypothyroidism

We all know that drinking and driving is dangerous. The same is true about driving while under the influence of certain drugs including prescription medications. But, most people are not aware that certain medical conditions can impair driving ability. For instance, individuals diagnosed with epilepsy need to have their seizures well-controlled and meet certain criteria before they can be medically cleared for driving. Likewise, diabetics must carefully monitor their blood sugar or they can present a serious risk on the roadways. (In fact, one of our lawyers has successfully secured a seven-figure settlement in a car accident caused by a diabetic blackout.)   And now, we are learning that individuals with significant hypothyroidism can experience impaired driving similar to that of a driver under the influence of alcohol.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which an individual produces insufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone. The condition is fairly common and it can impair a number of bodily functions including brain function. According to a study recently released by the International Society of Endocrinology, untreated hypothyroid patients placed in a driving simulator performed similar to drivers with blood alcohol concentrations above the legal limits. Like any other medical condition, hypothyroid patients should talk to their doctor and ensure they are receiving appropriate medicine to combat the deficient levels of thyroid hormone so they do not present a risk on the roadways.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and would like to discuss your case for free and without obligation, contact one of our award-winning lawyers at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this online form and we will be happy to call you. We handle all Tennessee car accident cases on a contingency basis which means we only get paid if we win. And unlike some lawyers, we advance all case expenses so you are never out of pocket any money to pursue your rights.

Defective Air Bags Affect Millions of Vehicles

If you have an airbag system in your vehicle, you likely take comfort in this additional piece of safety equipment. But because of a defect, your airbag may now present a serious risk of injury. Takata Corporation, a Japanese company, is the second largest manufacturer of vehicle safety equipment including airbags. But in the past several years, Takata has experienced problems with its airbags. The defective airbags can explode causing injury and even death. The explosions are different from an intended deployment in a crash. Instead, the defective airbags actually detonate and shoot shrapnel at drivers and passengers. In fact, in at least one incident, the metal ejected during the airbag explosion was so hot it set fire to the instrument panel and glove compartment of the vehicle. 

As a result, in recent days, Nissan and Honda have recalled more than 3 million vehicles because of defective Takata airbags, and Mazda has recalled a smaller number of vehicles. More recalls may be looming as Chrysler, Ford and BMW are investigating the issue in their vehicles. And, it is important to note that these recent recalls are in addition to earlier recalls involving millions of vehicles affected with the same airbag problem.

The cause of the explosions appears to be related to inadequate pressure and excess moisture during production of the airbags. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) is, of course, investigating the problem and is also studying whether driving in high humidity presents an increased risk factor for the explosions, which is troubling news for Tennessee drivers as we enter the hot and humid summer months.  You can visit the NTHSA’s website to determine if you vehicle is affected by the recall and the steps to take to address the problem.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective airbag, you may have a product liability claim. If you would like to discuss your case with one of our award-winning lawyers, we would be happy to talk to you during a free, no-obligation consultation. Simply give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this form and we will call you. We handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.

New iPhone App Prevents Texting and Driving

Yesterday, we told you about the alarming increase in texting while driving amongst teens. Today, we want to share with you some new technology to help combat this dangerous and deadly behavior. Earlier this week, a new app was released in the Apple store. The app completely disables an iPhone while driving. The app is called No Text and Drive and it uses GPS to sense when a vehicle is traveling in excess of 10 mph. At that speed, the app disables the iPhone and prevents a user from texting or making phone calls. (And for those of you who are wondering, you can still listen to music.) The app also has an override feature for when the user is a passenger and a parental feature that alerts parents when the app has been turned off. This is the first app of its kind in the app store, and since a whopping 61% of American teens own an iPhone, it could be an important weapon in the campaign to end texting and driving. 

Texting While Driving Now a Greater Risk to Teens than Smoking

The good news: teen smoking is down. In fact, it is at a 22 year low. The bad news: texting while driving is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently released a new report which shows that 41.4% of students admit to texting and emailing while driving a car. Two years ago, the number was 32%. 

Car crashes remain the number one cause of death for teenagers. Texting or emailing while driving and inexperience can make a deadly combination. According to research, drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a driver who is undistracted. 

Through education, as a society, we have made some headway on the risks of smoking. And now, we must turn our focus on distracted driving. Here are some tips to help avoid this dangerous behavior:

1.       Put your phone where you can no reach it while you are driving;

2.      Turn notifications off so you are not tempted to respond to an incoming message;

3.      If you must respond to a text, ask a passenger to do it for you or pull over to a spot of safety;

4.      Talk to your teens about the risks and set a good example by not using your phone while driving;

5.      Use an app to auto-respond for you or to disable your phone while driving.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an car accident and would like to discuss your case with one of our award-winning lawyers, give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We handle all car accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.

By the way, smoking is still a bad idea.

On-Call Chauffeurs and Things You Should Consider Before Letting Them Drive Your Little Deuce Coupe, Little Red Corvette or your Hot Rod Lincoln

OK, I will admit it. I am a card-carrying member of AARP and I am proud of it – mostly because of the discounts I have enjoyed since qualifying for membership at age 51.   Earlier this week, while reading the AARP monthly magazine, I was alerted to the growing trend of on-call chauffeurs. Rather than using a taxi, the bus or Uber, etc., these on-call chauffeurs will drive you in your car.   While many of these companies are clearly trying to minimize drunk driving, they are certainly not limited to those situations. Over 600 such companies exist in over 46 states. In Nashville, our research revealed three on-call chauffeur companies: Guardian Angel Drivers, noDUIride and Scooter Squad.   Additional companies are located in Knoxville and Memphis. 

These on-call chauffeurs are fantastic to the extent that they prevent even one drunk driving accident. However, there are some things consumers should consider when using these services:

·       How are the drivers screened? Clearly, they should have a clean driving and criminal history?

·       Are the on-call chauffeurs insured and, if so, the amount of the insurance?

·       How does your insurance policy treat anyone driving your car with permission?

·       Do the chauffeurs actually have a chauffeurs’ license?

If you have been involved in a car accident and would like to talk to one of our award-winning lawyers in a free, no-obligation consultation, please call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787

More Uber News

It is not just U.S. taxi drivers who are upset over Uber. In some European cities yesterday, taxi drivers took to the streets without passengers yesterday to clog traffic in protest over the unregulated Uber.   The protests in Europe focus on the same issues raging in the United States: licensure, training, insurance, fare regulation and safety.   Uber is now valued in the $17 to $18 billion range, so this start-up is quickly turning into a giant.   Uber’s liability to injury victims is an issue we are following closely as this type of service becomes more popular. 

Views...News...And Reviews is keeping on close eye on Uber and similar companies.

Troubling News About Uber

For the reasons outlined in this prior post on the subject, we have been interested in  the tort implications associated with Uber and similar ride-sharing services.   Recently, we read some troubling comments from Uber’s CEO regarding an alleged assault perpetrated by an Uber driver. Apparently, an Uber driver allegedly choked a woman who was kissing her bi-racial husband in the back seat of the Uber car. The Uber driver denies this account and claims the woman was drunk and belligerent. To be sure, we do not know what happened and who is telling the truth about the incident. But, we do know this: following the incident Uber’s CEO emailed his press team telling them that “we need to make sure these writers (press) don’t come away thinking we are responsible even when things do go bad. . . these writers are starting to think we are somehow liable for these incidents that aren’t even real in the first place.“   

To be sure, Uber’s CEO may have been correct: this alleged assault may have been contrived. But since his email was sent the same day as the attack, it is unlikely that he had the benefit of a full investigation into the matter to know one way or the other. Instead, his approach appears to be: deny, deny, deny. The fact that Uber’s CEO thinks he has no responsibility to his customers “when things do go bad” is alarming. However, it is unfortunately not unique. As injury lawyers, we see this approach taken time and time again, which is why we do what we do. 

If you or a loved on has been injured and need to hold the at-fault party accountable and recover the damages you deserve, call our award-winning lawyers at either our Nashville or Murfreesboro office.   Nashville 615-742-4880 . Murfreesboro: 867-9900. Toll-free 866-812-8787.   We will review your case at no charge an we handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win.

Mom and Dad Are Just Distracted As Everyone Else

Distracted driving is an epidemic and apparently no one is immune. According to a recent study, 90 percent of parent drivers have engaged in distracted driving with their child in the car with them. The distractions range from talking on the phone, texting while driving, handing a child food or a toy, interacting with the vehicle’s navigation system, etc.

The dangers of this type of behavior are two-fold: First, as any parent can attest, children tend to mirror their parent’s behavior. If parents engage in distracted driving, children are more likely to model that type of behavior when they begin driving. Second, distracted driving is dangerous and the cause of many avoidable accidents. In 2012, 421,000 people were injured in car wrecks involving distracted drivers, an increase of nine percent from the previous year. And each year, more than 130,000 children under the age of 13 seek emergency room treatment for injuries sustained in a car accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact us for a free, no obligation evaluation of your case. Call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.   We handle all accident cases on a contingency basis.

New Hope for Patients with Paralysis

In the United States, over 6 million Americans suffer with paralysis. Some of the injuries were induced by traumatic spinal cord injuries. Others were the result of medical conditions such as stroke or medical malpractice in the form of birth injuries and otherwise. 

But, there is new hope in the form of implanted electrical devices. The devices are implanted under the skin of the abdomen and electrodes are then placed at the patient’s spinal cord. Then, the device sends electrical impulses to the spinal cord which basically reboots the neurons and retrains the nerves.  

In a recent study, four patients who were all left paralyzed from car accidents and motorcycle accidents have been able to retrain their damaged nerves allowing them to voluntarily move their affected limbs. While none of the patients have learned to walk again, one of them has been able to stand for as long as 27 minutes. 

Researchers are excited about this breakthrough and the promise it holds for paralysis patients. Of course, we are excited too. We have been fortunate to help clients who have sustained catastrophic spinal cord injuries, and we know the toll these types of injuries can take on not only the patient but also the entire family.  To have cause for hope is a beautiful thing.

If you would like to discuss a spinal cord injury case with one of our award-winning attorneys, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. But, do not delay. The law only allows you a limited time to pursue your rights. Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this form and we will contact you. For information on our fees and costs, click here.

New Hope for Patients with Paralysis

In the United States, over 6 million Americans suffer with paralysis. Some of the injuries were induced by traumatic spinal cord injuries. Others were the result of medical conditions such as stroke or medical malpractice in the form of birth injuries and otherwise. 

But, there is new hope in the form of implanted electrical devices. The devices are implanted under the skin of the abdomen and electrodes are then placed at the patient’s spinal cord. Then, the device sends electrical impulses to the spinal cord which basically reboots the neurons and retrains the nerves.  

In a recent study, four patients who were all left paralyzed from car accidents and motorcycle accidents have been able to retrain their damaged nerves allowing them to voluntarily move their affected limbs. While none of the patients have learned to walk again, one of them has been able to stand for as long as 27 minutes. 

Researchers are excited about this breakthrough and the promise it holds for paralysis patients. Of course, we are excited too. We have been fortunate to help clients who have sustained catastrophic spinal cord injuries, and we know the toll these types of injuries can take on not only the patient but also the entire family.  To have cause for hope is a beautiful thing.

If you would like to discuss a spinal cord injury case with one of our award-winning attorneys, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. But, do not delay. The law only allows you a limited time to pursue your rights. Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this form and we will contact you. For information on our fees and costs, click here.

Lyft, Sidecar and Uber: Great Service But Lots of Legal Issues

Have you seen cars driving around Nashville decked out with a fuzzy pink mustache? The pink mustache is the logo, if you will, for Lyft, a ride-sharing service. Lyft, Ubert and Sidecar all operate in much the same manner.  For Lyft, individuals who need transportation can summon a driver by using their phones -- the companies have apps for their services. A pre-screened driver then picks up the individuals and takes them to their destination. The driver does not charge a fare but instead takes a "donation." The cost associated with these types of ride-sharing services has been estimated to be 30% less than a traditional taxi, which is wonderful for the consumer.

But there are some questions related to these services. While these ride-sharing services are quasi-taxis, they are not currently subject to a number of regulations applicable to taxis and limousines. For instance, the drivers do not have to have chauffeur licenses. While the vehicles must be a 2000 model year or later, the vehicles are not subject to inspections. Unlike Nashville taxis, there is not presently a requirement that they be licensed by the city's Transportation Licensing Commission.

And then there is the issue of liability and insurance. Lyft's website indicates that it does criminal background checks and Department of Motor Vehicle checks for all of its drivers. These checks are designed to weed out drivers who have been convicted of a DUI, a violent crime, etc. Lyft also requires its drivers to have the state minimum in insurance coverage and then Lyft has its own, additional $1,000,000 liability coverage. 

But, what is not clear from Lyft's website is how the coverage applies. For instance, does the coverage apply only if the Lyft driver is transporting passengers? Or does it also apply while the driver is driving around in between jobs? If the Lyft driver hits a pedestrian, does the insurance coverage apply? Are the drivers independent contractors or does Lyft bear vicarious liability for the driver's actions? If Lyft fails to properly screen a driver, is Lyft independently liable? Are Lyft drivers common carriers which means they are held to higher level of responsibility when transporting passengers?

Some of these questions will be controlled by the terms of Lyft's insurance policy. And others will have to make their way through the court system to get solid answers. For now, some states are beginning to exercise greater scrutiny over these ride-sharing companies. For instance, California has already begun to regulate ride-sharing companies with vehicle inspections, insurance requirements, licensing and more. Arizona and Illinois currently have legislation pending.

As Nashville continues to grow, so does the need for better transportation options and these ride-sharing programs may be a great solution. But, as a consumer, you should be aware of these liability and safety issues. And you should also know how your own insurance policy applies to these situations. 

If you are involved in an accident with Lyft or some other ride-sharing company, one of our award-winning lawyers would be happy to discuss your case with you in a no-fee, no-obligation consultation. For more information on our fees and costs, click here. Then, call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this online form to schedule an appointment.

Lyft, Sidecar and Uber: Great Service But Lots of Legal Issues

Have you seen cars driving around Nashville decked out with a fuzzy pink mustache? The pink mustache is the logo, if you will, for Lyft, a ride-sharing service. Lyft, Ubert and Sidecar all operate in much the same manner.  For Lyft, individuals who need transportation can summon a driver by using their phones -- the companies have apps for their services. A pre-screened driver then picks up the individuals and takes them to their destination. The driver does not charge a fare but instead takes a "donation." The cost associated with these types of ride-sharing services has been estimated to be 30% less than a traditional taxi, which is wonderful for the consumer.

But there are some questions related to these services. While these ride-sharing services are quasi-taxis, they are not currently subject to a number of regulations applicable to taxis and limousines. For instance, the drivers do not have to have chauffeur licenses. While the vehicles must be a 2000 model year or later, the vehicles are not subject to inspections. Unlike Nashville taxis, there is not presently a requirement that they be licensed by the city's Transportation Licensing Commission.

And then there is the issue of liability and insurance. Lyft's website indicates that it does criminal background checks and Department of Motor Vehicle checks for all of its drivers. These checks are designed to weed out drivers who have been convicted of a DUI, a violent crime, etc. Lyft also requires its drivers to have the state minimum in insurance coverage and then Lyft has its own, additional $1,000,000 liability coverage. 

But, what is not clear from Lyft's website is how the coverage applies. For instance, does the coverage apply only if the Lyft driver is transporting passengers? Or does it also apply while the driver is driving around in between jobs? If the Lyft driver hits a pedestrian, does the insurance coverage apply? Are the drivers independent contractors or does Lyft bear vicarious liability for the driver's actions? If Lyft fails to properly screen a driver, is Lyft independently liable? Are Lyft drivers common carriers which means they are held to higher level of responsibility when transporting passengers?

Some of these questions will be controlled by the terms of Lyft's insurance policy. And others will have to make their way through the court system to get solid answers. For now, some states are beginning to exercise greater scrutiny over these ride-sharing companies. For instance, California has already begun to regulate ride-sharing companies with vehicle inspections, insurance requirements, licensing and more. Arizona and Illinois currently have legislation pending.

As Nashville continues to grow, so does the need for better transportation options and these ride-sharing programs may be a great solution. But, as a consumer, you should be aware of these liability and safety issues. And you should also know how your own insurance policy applies to these situations. 

If you are involved in an accident with Lyft or some other ride-sharing company, one of our award-winning lawyers would be happy to discuss your case with you in a no-fee, no-obligation consultation. For more information on our fees and costs, click here. Then, call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this online form to schedule an appointment.

Tennesseee Teen Drivers: New (and Scary) Information about Texting and Drinking While Driving

While knowledge may be power, it does not necessarily translate into positive action as evidenced by a recent study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). According to the study, most teens understand the dangers associated with drinking and driving and texting and driving, but they continue to engage in these behaviors. The study also shows teenagers have an alarming definition of what constitutes a designated driver.

The report showed almost all teenagers (96%) understand the distraction associated with texting and driving or talking on the phone and driving. In fact, 62% of teenagers agreed that it is very or extremely distracting. Yet, 86% of teens still do it. The same applies to drinking and driving. While 86% of teenage drivers think drinking and driving is very or extremely distracting, more than two-thirds of the teenagers who admit to doing it also admit to doing it after consuming more than three alcoholic beverages.

As for the concept of a designated driver, 21% of teens think that means the driver is "basically sober," i.e., the driver can have some alcohol as long as they do not become too impaired. 4% of teens think a designated driver means selecting the most sober person in the group to drive. These numbers show us just how much more needs to be done to get teenager drivers to comprehend just how lethal these behaviors can be. Talk to your kids, model good behavior (i.e., don't text and drive yourself), use an app that will auto-respond to incoming texts to let the sender know the receiver is driving or consider using a device like CellControl

If you or a loved one has been injured in an car wreck and would like to discuss your case, call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this form for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers. We only get paid if we win so you are not out of pocket any money to pursue your rights.

Tennesseee Teen Drivers: New (and Scary) Information about Texting and Drinking While Driving

While knowledge may be power, it does not necessarily translate into positive action as evidenced by a recent study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). According to the study, most teens understand the dangers associated with drinking and driving and texting and driving, but they continue to engage in these behaviors. The study also shows teenagers have an alarming definition of what constitutes a designated driver.

The report showed almost all teenagers (96%) understand the distraction associated with texting and driving or talking on the phone and driving. In fact, 62% of teenagers agreed that it is very or extremely distracting. Yet, 86% of teens still do it. The same applies to drinking and driving. While 86% of teenage drivers think drinking and driving is very or extremely distracting, more than two-thirds of the teenagers who admit to doing it also admit to doing it after consuming more than three alcoholic beverages.

As for the concept of a designated driver, 21% of teens think that means the driver is "basically sober," i.e., the driver can have some alcohol as long as they do not become too impaired. 4% of teens think a designated driver means selecting the most sober person in the group to drive. These numbers show us just how much more needs to be done to get teenager drivers to comprehend just how lethal these behaviors can be. Talk to your kids, model good behavior (i.e., don't text and drive yourself), use an app that will auto-respond to incoming texts to let the sender know the receiver is driving or consider using a device like CellControl

If you or a loved one has been injured in an car wreck and would like to discuss your case, call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this form for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers. We only get paid if we win so you are not out of pocket any money to pursue your rights.

Liability of Parents for Teenage Drivers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenage drivers (age 16 to 19) are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers over the age of 20.  In the face of these statistics, the Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill which would limit the amount of money a person could recover from a negligent teenage driver's parents.    

Currently, in Wisconsin, parents are responsible for any harm caused by their child who is under age 18. In fact, the teen driver must be sponsored by a parent who actually signs for the teen to be allowed to obtain a license and agrees to be responsible for the harm caused by the teenager.  Under the proposed legislation, parents would only be responsible for up to $300,000.00 for the harm caused by their teenage child. 

So let's assume, the teenage driver was texting and crosses the center line and kills another driver and renders the passenger a quadriplegic.  The damages would be capped at $300,000 even though the medical bills and future care for the passenger would be in the millions of dollars and someone lost their life due to the teenage driver's negligence.  

This discussion may have you wondering what the law is in Tennessee.  Tennessee has a statute similar to Wisconsin and imposes liability on the parent who signs a form that permits the teenager to obtain a driver's license.  There is also a law that permits recovery of damages from the parents if the teenager was operating the vehicle for a family purpose.  While there are general rules capping damages on Tennessee personal injury and wrongful death cases of all types, there is not a separate, lower cap on the liability of parents. 

This is not as scary as it might seem for Tennessee parents.  True, the parents face responsibility for the acts of the teenage driver, but the solution is simple and straight-forward:  parents need to purchase adequate insurance to protect themselves and other folks on the roadways from the harm that may be inflicted by their teenage driver.  

Having represents many people  injured in car and truck wreck cases,  our firm routinely has clients who are injured by teens (and adults) who do not have adequate liability insurance to pay for the damages  that were caused  (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, etc.).  In those situations, unless the at-fault party has substantial assets (which is next to never otherwise they would have plenty of insurance), the only other avenue of compensation for their injuries is underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.  By purchasing uninsured/undersinsured motorist coverage, you can protect yourself against a driver who does not have an adequate amount of liability insurance coverage.  Click on the link to learn more about Tennessee uninsured /underinsured motorist insurance.

I have two children who have driver's licenses - one 22 and one 19.  I know how much car insurance costs for teenagers.  I know how those rates are impacted by fender-benders and speeding tickets.  I also know that the right thing to do is to purchase an adequate amount of liability insurance to be available for anyone injured by their driving mistakes.  The proposed Wisconsin law is just plain wrong, and as is all too typical these days as special interest groups seek to protect select groups of  people and corporations at the expense of those injured and killed by the negligence of others. 

Punitive Damages for Texting and Driving

 In California, an appellate court is being asked to consider whether a texting driver can be held liable for punitive damages.  Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and, hopefully, deter others from engaging in the same harmful conduct.  In the texting while driving context, the argument is that by texting while operating a vehicle, the driver “consciously disregarded” the safety of others on the roadway.  The same argument is used in drunk driving cases.

While texting and driving is definitely illegal in Tennessee, this issue of whether a driver who was texting and driving can be held liable for punitive damages has not yet been decided by Tennessee courts.  Of course, proving the driver was texting will often be an issue.  In the California case, a witness testified the driver had been testing for a while and had swerved in and out of lanes before finally losing control and injuring someone.  And of course, if there is reason to suspect the driver was texting, a subpoena can be issued for the drivers’ phone records. 

Please do not text and drive.  It could cost a life – maybe your own.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact one of our award-winning lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation.  Call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787For information about fees, click here

Could Your Car Help You Avoid An Accident?

If you are of a certain age, you probably remember the Jetsons, a Saturday morning cartoon about the future, in which George Jetson drove a vehicle that flew, basically drove itself and avoided crashes with other vehicles and things. Well, according to the United States Department of Transportation, we may soon have cars and trucks that are one step closer to the Jetsons' vision.

Yesterday, the Transportation Secretary announced it will move forward with vehicle-to-vehicle crash avoidance systems in cars and trucks. The systems use short distance radio networks that can send signals up to 300 yards. Cars and trucks equipped with the crash avoidance systems would essentially talk to one another and provide information about speeds, position and direction. If the crash avoidance system detected an imminent collision, an alarm would sound. In some cases, the warning alarm would sound even before the other vehicle was in view. In terms of timing, the Department of Transportation hopes to have a proposal in place before 2017.

Of course, the system's effectiveness will be diminished until most vehicles on the road are equipped with the technology.  But, this could be a significant step forward in crash protection. And, it comes at a good time. After several years of decline, fatal car accidents increased to 33,561 in 2012. (2013 numbers are not available yet).

Let's hope this important technology gets traction. Until then, be a safe driver. Slow down. Don't text and drive. Don't drink and drive. And, wear your seatbelt.    And if you have been injured in a car accident, contact one of our award-winning lawyers by filling out this online form or call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation.    

Driving While Drowsy - Dangerous and Deadly

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 100,000 police-reported accidents each year are directly attributable to driver fatigue. And this figure is almost certainly low because some states do not have coding for fatigue or driver fell asleep and if fatigue is combined with another factor, such as alcohol use, it does not get coded at all, etc.   Unbelievably, 41% of drivers have reported actually falling asleep at the wheel, and one in every six fatal car crashes is related to a drowsy driver. 

While anyone who is sleep-deprived is at risk for a crash, certain groups are at higher risk. Those groups include: (1) drivers who suffer with untreated sleep apnea syndrome; (2) shift workers who work at night or irregular hours; (3) young drivers (ages 16 to 29) especially males.   And, as this trucker will tell you, truck drivers definitely work at night and keep irregular hours. So it is not surprising that the Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 13 percent of Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers were fatigued at the time of a crash. 

Some drivers will try to combat fatigue by drinking caffeine, rolling the window down, turning up the radio or other tricks. But, the U.S. Department of Transportation warns that such tricks are not an alternative for rest and can actually produce a false sense of security. 

If you are drowsy, take a nap before getting behind the wheel or let someone else drive for a while so you can rest. If you don't, you might wake up in the emergency room or you might hurt or kill someone else. 

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy driver, contact one of our award-winning attorneys for a free consultation. Simply fill out this online form or call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.

Two Reasons Why There Were Fewer Crash-Related Deaths on Tennessee Roadways in 2013

While the numbers are only preliminary, the Tennessee Department of Safety has released the statistics on crash fatalities for Tennessee in 2013. The news is wonderful: traffic fatalities dropped from 1015 in 2012 to 988 in 2013. That is 27 families who did not suffer the pain and turmoil of losing a family member in a car accident.

The Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Safety believes the improvement is related to stronger enforcement of seatbelt violations and DUI laws.  State troopers issued 74,277 seat belt and child restraint citations in 2013, which is a 135.1 percent increase since 2010.    Seatbelt enforcement is critical as unbelted occupants were 48.9 percent of the fatalities in 2013. 

Similarly, Tennessee state troopers arrested 6,428 motorists for DUI in 2013, which is 90.4 per cent  increase since 2010. In 2013, preliminary numbers reveal 211 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Tennessee. 

Over the last 50 years, the number of crash-related deaths has only fallen below 1,000 on four occasions. So, 2013 was a good year.   But the statistics make it clear: if we want to keep saving lives then we need to buckle up and, if you are going to drink, let a taxi or a designated driver get you home. 

The Roads Were Icy; A Deer Jumped Into My Path; I Had A Diabetic Reaction -- The Defense Of Sudden Emergency In A Car Accident Case

Let's start this discussion with how the law handles sudden emergencies. Tennessee law recognizes that a driver faced with an unexpected or sudden emergency which calls for immediate action is unlikely to exercise the same good judgment as a driver who is operating his vehicle under normal circumstances.   In the past, a sudden emergency could constitute a complete defense to an injury claim. However, under current Tennessee law, a sudden emergency is just another factor for the judge or jury to consider when determining if the defendant was at-fault for the car accident. 

So with that in mind, let's look at some of the examples above. Icy roads might constitute a sudden emergency, but a judge or jury is less likely to excuse the defendant if he or she was driving too fast for the road conditions. Or, if the defendant driver was texting and driving and failed to brake until the last minute and then slid on ice, the defense is  not going to be of much help to the defendant.   Many of the same considerations apply to the situation where a deer suddenly appears in your path. 

In the diabetic reaction example, to decide whether the sudden emergency defense might apply, we would want to know how long the defendant had been diagnosed with diabetes and therefore how experienced he or she was in managing his blood sugar. We would also want to know what the defendant ate and drank that day, what physical activity the defendant had engaged in, did the defendant take their insulin, what the defendant's blood sugar readings had been in the days leading up to the accident, etc. If the evidence demonstrates the defendant had failed to properly manage his diabetes, then the defense of sudden emergency is less likely to be successful.

In short, if the sudden emergency is of the defendant's making, either in whole or in part, the doctrine is less likely to excuse the defendant's conduct.   At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning attorneys are experienced in handling cases in which the defendant attempts to use the doctrine of sudden emergency, and we know how to successfully combat that defense.  In fact, John  confronted a sudden emergency defense in his first jury trial in June of 1982 and countered the defense with the testimony of a witness from Kentucky who happened to observe the wreck.  We have recovered in excess of $100 million dollars for our satisfied clients and we would like to help you too. Contact us online or call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation. 

Teenagers Continue To Be At High Risk of Fatal Car Accident

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published some staggering statistics on teenage drivers. Here are just a few of them:

1. In 2010, seven teenagers were killed every single day as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident.

2. Compared to drivers who are 20 years and older, teenage drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

3. Car accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers.

Some teenage drivers are at greater risk than others. Males are two times more likely to be killed in a car crash than females.   Teens who are in their first month of driving are more likely to die in a car accident. Finally, teens who are driving with other teenage passengers in the car are more likely to be involved in a fatal wreck. 

If you have a teenage son or daughter, these sobering statistics will keep you awake at night. To help reduce the likelihood that your teenager will be involved in a car accident, teach and continually nag them about the following:

1. Wear your seatbelt.   If your teen is involved in a crash, the use of this vital piece of safety equipment can mean the difference between life and death.

2. Put your phone down. Texting while driving, talking on the phone while driving, using a phone to look up directions are all dangerous. Teach your teen to pull over and stop if they need to use their phone.

3. Do not drink and drive. Do not wait to talk to your kids about alcohol use. The average age for a boy to first try alcohol is 11 and for teen girls it is 13. Start the discussion early so that they have heard it for years before they begin driving.

4. Practice safe driving techniques. Do not exceed the speed limit. Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Do not eat and drive. Do not put on make-up while driving. 

In addition to nagging your kids about safe driving, remember to practice them yourself. You may think your teenage no longer pays any attention to what you do, but you are wrong. If you are applying make-up, texting while driving, speeding, engaging in aggressive driving, etc., your teenager will likely think you are a hypocrite and blow-off your warnings. So, be a good role model.

Drunk Driving Continues To Be Leading Cause of Wrong-Way Accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board describes wrong-way accidents as the most serious type of accident on the highway with fatality rates higher than any other types of accidents. More than half and possibly as high as three-quarters of all wrong-way accidents are alcohol-related. In fact, 9% of wrong-way drivers had been convicted of a DUI or DWI within 3 years of the wrong-way accident. 

On average, 360 lives are lost each year due to wrong-way driving. Most wrong way accidents happen at night and on weekends. The most typical origin of the wrong-way driver is entering an exit ramp, but U-turns are also a common originating factor. And the most dangerous lane to be in for wrong-way accidents? The lane closest to the median.  

If you or a loved one was injured in a wrong-way accident, one of our award-winning lawyers can help. While the wrong-way driver is almost certainly at fault, others may share in responsibility for the accident. For instance, did a restaurant or bar over serve the driver such that a liquor liability claim is appropriate? Or did a construction company fail to install appropriate signage to help drivers ascertain the proper traffic route? 

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this form and we will call you.   We will review your case with you, answer your questions and clearly explain your rights. We have helped thousands of satisfied clients and we would like to help you too. 

Unrestrained Passengers and Loose Objects Can Be Deadly in a Car Crash

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Each year millions of people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents, and injuries and deaths from car and truck accidents have a tremendous economic impact of roughly 70 billion dollars in a single year. 

Thanks to public safety campaigns and better education efforts, most drivers know they should wear their seatbelt, obey the speed limit, never text and drive, etc  But many drivers are unaware about the hazards of unrestrained passengers and loose objects in their vehicles and yet both of these can cause serious injury or death in an accident.

Strategic Safety estimates a driver's risk of dying in a car accident increases by 25% if there are unrestrained passengers in the vehicle. Likewise, a dog or a fully-loaded cooler, etc. can become a deadly projectile especially in a high-speed collision. One of our lawyers, Joy Day, who is a former defense lawyer for automobile manufacturers, has handled a case in which a driver was killed because of blunt force trauma created by an unrestrained passenger in the back seat.  John was involved in a car where a unrestrained cooler crashed into the vehicle passenger and there was a claim of injuries as a result of that "second impact."

Bottom line: as the driver, you should insist  that every passenger wear their seatbelt not only for their own safety but yours as well. And, be sure to secure dogs and other loose items so they do not become a deadly object in the event of a crash. Our 85 pound Labrador Retriever wears his seatbelt harness when he is in the car -- for $20.00 it was easy and inexpensive protection for both him and us. 

The Law Offices of John Day offers free consultations for injury victims and their families. If you would like to sit down with one of our award-winning lawyers to review your case, call our office at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this form and we will call you. We accept all  of our injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win. 

Halloween Safety: Slow Down and Be Alert

Halloween is a wonderful holiday for kids: costumes, trick-or-treating with friends, candy. But, it can also be a very dangerous holiday. A child is twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween. Here are some steps to help avoid a tragic accident that will affect the lives of everyone involved forever:

Motorists:

1. Slow down and be vigilant in residential areas especially between the hours of 5:30 to 9:30.

2. Proceed slowly and cautiously when entering and exiting driveways or backing up.

3. Pay particular attention at intersections.

4. Turn your headlights on early -- before dusk. 

5. Put down your phone. It is important to eliminate distractions while driving.

Parents of trick-or treaters:

1. Make sure your child is visible -- use reflective tape and carry a glow stick or flashlight. 

2. Avoid masks which obscure a child's vision.

3. Choose costumes that fit properly to avoid trips and falls.

4. Teach children to remain on sidewalks and cross at intersections.

5. Teach children how to properly check before crossing the street,  including making eye contact with a driver. 

6. Put down the phone. As a pedestrian, it is also important to eliminate distractions, and talking or texting will impact your ability to observe your surroundings.

To learn more about pedestrian accidents, click on the link. And, if you would like to talk to one of our award-winning lawyers about a pedestrian accident, you can contact us online or call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.   We charge no fee for an initial consultation about personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Motorists Beware: Deer Are On The Make and On The Move

Deer are on the move due to migration and mating season. Typically, deer are most active in the mornings and early evenings, which unfortunately just happens to coincide with the rush-hours. And, October through December are the most dangerous months for deer-related collisions. 

Deer can be very dangerous to motorists. The Institute for Highway Safety estimates 1.5 million deer-related collisions occur each year with 150 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries.   In 2012, there were 5,911 deer-related crashes, three of which resulted in deaths and 307 resulted in injuries.

While conventional wisdom is to slow and hold your line when suddenly confronted with a deer in your path, some drivers will swerve in an attempt to miss the animal. Even if there is no contact between your vehicle and the deer, a sudden swerve can result in a loss of control causing an accident with another vehicle, a tree or other object. Of course, holding your line is not without risk as a deer can crash through the windshield seriously injuring or killing occupants. 

If you have been involved in an accident caused by a deer, you may be able to recover compensatory damages for your injuries. Obviously, there is no claim against the deer, but you may have a claim against a driver who swerved into your lane while trying to avoid a deer. Or, you may have a uninsured motorist claim against your own insurance company if the careless driver did not have liability insurance or had insufficient insurance. Whether you have a claim depends on the facts of your accident. 

At this time of year, slow down and be particularly vigilant for deer near wooded areas and during morning and evening hours. If you see a deer cross the road, assume others are nearby and may dart into your path. If you or a loved one has been injured in a deer-car accident, one of the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of John Day can help you determine if you have a claim for your losses. Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787. Or, you can simply fill out this form and we will be happy to call you. 

Mob Violence, Herd Behavior, Pack Mentality: Whatever You Call It, It Is Ugly.

A few weeks ago, a mob of motorcyclists and the Lien family, who were in a black Ranger Rover SUV, were involved in a violent incident. In recent days, more information has came out about the incident and it raises some interesting legal implications. Based on a video of the incident and news reports, the following appears to have occurred:

* The motorcycle riders had organized for a Hollywood Stuntz event. This event had a history in that the year before the motorcyclists had effectively shut down traffic in Times Square.

* Earlier that day but prior to the incident involving the Liens, New York police had received hundreds of complaints about the motorcyclists and their behavior.

* The LIen incident began when one of the motorcycle riders appeard to "brake-check" the Liens i.e, the motorcyclist purposefully slammed on his brakes in an attempt to cause contact. 

* After the Lien vehicle bumped the motorcycle, the other riders became angry and began attacking the Lien vehicle which was occupied by Mr. Lien, his wife and their 2 year old daughter.   The attack included slashing of tires, beating on windows with helmets, etc.

*Allegedly fearing for his safety and the safety of his family, Mr. Lien fleed from the mob. In the process, he ran over several motorcycles and one of the motorcyclists, Edwin Mieses, who was apparently only watching the melee.

* Mieses suffered two broken legs and paralysis.

* Because the tires on the SUV had been slashed, the Lien family was unable to make get away from the scene. When the SUV stopped again, Mr. Lien's window was smashed and some of the mob pulled him from the vehicle where he was beaten and slashed with a knife until two brave Good Samaritans intervened. 

* During the ensuing police investigation, it was revealed that several undercover and off-duty officers, one a ten year veteran, were part of the motorcycle mob. 

* Mieses is now being represented by family lawyer Gloria Allred who is threatening legal action against Mr. Lien for Mieses' injuries.

* Mieses reportedly has been ticketed by police 16 times and adjudicated a habitual traffic offender. He apparently did not have a valid driver's license on the day of the incident and had never applied for a motorcycle license.

There are lots of things to reflect on as a result of this incident: 

1. Mob violence is real. The fact that veteran police officers were allegedly  involved in this incident shows it is not just young, immature thugs who can behave in such a fashion. To be clear, most motorcycle riders are responsible citizens and this type of mob conduct is not typical of most motorcycle riders. But our experience tells us that some people do things in groups that they would never consider doing if they were alone.  

2. Mieses can certainly bring suit against Mr. Lien but winning that suit is the real issue. If this case were in Tennessee, a jury would be asked to decide if Mr. Mieses was comparatively at fault in his actions that day. Even if he was not a part of the physical altercation, did his presence and participation in the mob's overall conduct constitute negligence on his part? If so, Mr. Mieses' recovery will be reduced by his percentage of fault assessed against him.  If suit is brought, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Lien brings a counter-claim against Mr. Mieses for his conduct that day.

3. If the civil case between Mr. Mieses and Mr. LIen had occurred in Tennessee, additional legal issues would have to be addressed such as the fault of the other members of the mob including the rider who stopped short and those who engaged in the physical attack on Mr. Lien. 

4. One final issue bears discussion: the retention of attorney Gloria Allred by the family of Mr. Mieses. While Ms. Allred is often seen in high-profile cases, she promotes herself as primarily a family law, discrimination and feminist-cause attorney. So the Mieses family hiring her for a personal injury case is interesting. Certainly, the selection of the right attorney can be difficult, but there are questions that can be asked to help you make the right choice of lawyer.   My guess is that Ms. Allred will get the help of a lawyer experienced in personal injury law to assist her in this case.

There is lots of missing information about this case, but the discovery process will help the litigants and those of us who are causal observers learn the real facts.  We will come back to this case from time to time and give you an update.

Share the Road: Part 2

In Nashville and other cities across Tennessee, pedestrian traffic has increased as more and more people have chosen to live in an urban environment that allows for easy walks to work, restaurants, bars, museums, and retail centers. Tennessee is also blessed with many beautiful roadways which walkers, joggers and runners use for exercise. 

Now that the lovely fall weather is here and more people are getting out and about, let's familiarize ourself with our basic rights and responsibilities as motorists and pedestrians:

1. Pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and driveways.

2. However, where present, pedestrians should obey all pedestrian signals.

3. If crossing at any point other than an intersection, the pedestrian must yield to vehicles. 

4. While crossing the street, the pedestrian must use reasonable care for his or her safety.

5. When walking, jogging or running on a street, the pedestrian must use sidewalks if they are provided. 

6. When walking, jogging or running on a street without sidewalks, the pedestrian should face traffic.

6. Notwithstanding any of the above, drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid pedestrians. 

When cars or trucks and pedestrians collide, the pedestrian will rarely avoid injury or death - you simply cannot take 2000 or more pounds of steel moving through traffic, collide it with a human body, and not have horrible things happen.  Thus, it is essential that all of us, motorists and pedestrians, understand the rules applicable to us and follow them.  Sixty-four pedestrians lost their lives on Tennessee roadways in the first 285 days of this year - please be careful not to add to the count.

For more information on accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles, please follow the link. If you or a loved one has been hit by a car or other motor vehicle and would like to discuss your case in a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact us online or call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787. We will be happy to sit down with you, review your case, answer your questions and explain your rights and options in clear terms. 

Share the Road: Part One

With summer's sweltering temperatures coming to an end, more Tennessee bicyclists and runners will take to the streets. So, it is a good time for all of us to remember our respective rights and responsibilities on the roadway. In Part One, we will start with bicyclists and Part Two will cover pedestrians.

Under Tennessee law, every person riding a bicycle is granted the same rights as operators of motor vehicles. Of course, bicyclists also owe certain duties. For instance, bicycle operators and passengers under age 16 must wear a helmet.  All bicyclists  must obey traffic signs and signals and the bike must be equipped with a head lamp and rear reflectors if riding at night. In addition, if a bicyclist is traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic, the bicyclists should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway.

Conversely, motorists must respect the bicyclists right to be on the roadway and treat the bicyclist in the same manner it would another motor vehicle. This means using proper signals, passing only where it is permitted and when it can be done safely, not tailgating or following too closely, etc. 

Impacts between motor vehicles and bicyclists rarely end well for the bicyclist.  Obviously, there is no physical protection around the bicyclist to prevent injury except a helmet, and the bicyclist will be lucky is he or she escapes such an event with road rash or bumps and bruises.   

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle fatalities have been on the rise since 2010. As of October 16, 2013, 8 bicycle operators have lost their life on Tennessee roads in 2013. To reverse this trend and loss of life and physical well-being, motorists and bicyclists alike need to respect each other on the roadway and be alert for one another.

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Football, Felonies, and Sports Bars Who Serve Alcohol to Drunks

Sports bars can be a great place to watch a football game: huge televisions, multiple games on at one time, wings, pizza and beer. In the fall, it is easy to see how an entire Saturday or Sunday afternoon can be spent at the bar watching college or professional football. Of course, if you have spent the day drinking, you have no business driving yourself home. Unfortunately, people do so, and innocent people become victims of drunk drivers and the bars that over-serve them.

In our last blog post, we discussed the criminal penalties for first time DUI, which is a misdemeanor.   But if a drunk driver harms someone, in many circumstances, the conduct can rise to a felony. If a drunk driver is found guilty of vehicular assault (serious injury to another person by a DUI driver), then the offender has committed a Class D Felony which can result in license revocation from 1 to 5 years (a restricted license is not available), jail time of 2 to 12 years, a $5,000.00 fine and other costs such as attorney fees, bail, etc.   Vehicular Homicide (a fatal crash caused by a DUI with a .08 BAC or more) is a Class B felony and is punishable by 8 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.00. Aggravated Vehicular Assault While Driving Intoxicated is a Class A Felony (requires proof of prior DUI offenses) and is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.00.

In addition to criminal penalties for the drunk driver, the bar or restaurant faces misdemeanor charges if it serves alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated.  The bar or restaurant that serves who over-served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who gives into a car and hurts others may be responsible for any harm caused by the drunk driver such as the victim's medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. This area of the law is called dram shop or liquor liability law. To learn more about the legal liability of bars and restaurants   , follow the link. 

By discussing the liability of the restaurant or bar, we in no way excuse the conduct of the drunk driver - he or she should know better than to drink to excess and drive.  But bars and restaurants also owe a responsibility to the public not to serve visibly intoxicated people and responsibility to train their personnel to identify those who have had too much too drink and to cut off the flow of alcohol to such persons.  The failure to do so should give rise to financial consequences for the harm caused.

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Tailgating, DUI, and Drunk Driving Victims

It's football time in Tennessee: the Titans, Vols, Commodores, and Blue Raiders are all well into their seasons. Saturdays and Sunday game day rituals often begin with a bloody mary and sausage balls during tailgate set-up and progress to hotdogs, chili and beer before game time. Once inside the stadium, many fans continue to imbibe. After the game, fans routinely tailgate some more while traffic congestion clears. The result is a long day of drinking. And unfortunately, too many intoxicated or buzzed fans will pack up their tailgate and drive home. 

In Tennessee, first time drunk driver offenders will serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail and a maximum of 11 months, 29 days. With a BAC of .20 or higher, the minimum jail time is 7 consecutive days. In addition, the offender will lose his or her driver's license for 1 year. The offender must participate in alcohol and drug program, pay fines, pay higher insurance rates, pay towing expenses, pay bail and for an attorney. The offender might also be ordered to install an Ignition Interlock at cost of roughly $1,000.00. Without question, even if you are not involved in an accident, DUI is a costly mistake. 

But, if a drunk driver causes a crash and injures someone, the real cost is paid by the victim in the form of medical bills, lost wages, permanent impairments, scarring and disfigurement, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and injuries that could change a the life of the victim and his or her family forever.  So enjoy the tailgating and the game, but remember a cab fare is down right cheap compared to the cost of drinking and driving.  You do not want to live the rest of your life knowing that you harmed another human being in a drunk driving accident.

To read more about the rights of victims of drunk drivers and our representation of those victims click on the link.

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Risk of Fatal Car Wrecks Increase for Teenagers Drivers With Similar Aged Passengers

Teenagers who are riding with friends of a similar age are at increased risk of being in fatal accidents.

A recent study by  the Texas A & M Transportation Institute finds that  15-to-17-year-old drivers are almost eight times as likely to get into a fatal accident when they are carrying two or more teen passengers.   The study is based on an analysis  of te n years of national traffic data notes that the 30 percent increase in deaths when other teens.

According to the study, from 2002 to 2011 the number of novice teenage drivers in fatal accidents dropped by 60 percent, but the percentage of fatalities that occurred when other teens were in the vehicle increased each year.

Like many states, Tennessee has a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that  allows young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges.  Click on the link to review the Tennessee Graduated Driver License Program.

This study demonstrates that driver inexperience is only part of the problem  Teens simply fail to recognize that the presence of passengers can present a hazard to the driver because they present an increased opportunity for distraction.  Teens are also much more likely to engage in reckless behavior when other teens are in the car.

Read the full report about the dangers of teen passengers with teen drivers by clicking on the link.

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How Do I Pay For Medical Bills After A Car or Motorcycle Accident If I Don't Have Health Insurance?

We receive calls almost every day from people who have been in a Tennessee car, motorcycle or truck accident and are unable to get medical treatment because they do not have health insurance.  Many doctors refuse to see accident victims unless they have health insurance or are willing to pay cash for the service.  There are lots of people - about 48 million in the country - who have no health insurance and many of those people cannot pay cash for medical treatment.

There are only four options left for these people.  One, borrow money from family or friends to see a doctor.  Two, attempt to ignore the medical problem and hope that it will solve itself.  Three, use the medical payments (also called "med pay") provision of the insurance on your vehicle to help pay for treatment.  Fourth, ask your lawyer if he or she can make arrangements for a doctor to treat you - a doctor who will forgo seeking payment until after you case resolves.

It is a mistake to assume that the at-fault driver's insurance company will pay for treatment.  They may accept responsibility for the accident, but the at-fault driver's insurance company will almost never pay medical bills for you as they are incurred.  It is possible this insurance company will reimburse you for the bills at the time your treatment is complete and you are ready to settle the entire claim, but they will not give you money in advance of treatment or let your doctor bill them for treatment.

So, if you do not have health insurance having "medical payments" coverage on your vehicles is important.  To see if you have this type of insurance coverage look on the insurance policy's "declaration page" - the sheet where all of the insurance coverage is listed for each vehicle you insure.

The failure to seek medical treatment and follow-up on treatment as ordered by your doctor will not only affect your health but will also affect the value of your personal injury claim.  Simply put, the at-fault driver's insurance company will assume that you were not hurt or that your injuries were not serious if you do not seek prompt medical attention.  I am not suggesting that you go to a doctor if you are not hurt, or that you should go to a doctor and try to claim that other medical problems were caused by the wreck.  I am suggesting that you seek medical treatment for problems you have and that if you are unable to pay for treatment that you talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer about what options you have to get treatment.   Prompt medical treatment important, not only for your health and well-being, but also to allow your lawyer to prove the nature, extent and cause of your injuries.

"Shut Up and Drive" - Voice Activitated Text Message Devices in Vehicles

While on opposite ends of the music spectrum, Chely Wright and Rihanna were in tune on some good advice: shut up and drive. While the dangers of texting and driving are well known, drivers still do it. So, the automakers are now rolling out vehicles that allow a driver to use their voice, rather than their fingers, to send text messages. The system is similar to Siri on a i-Phone, but it is actually part of the vehicle's electronic system. Ford and Toyota already have such systems in some vehicles. And while intuitively the idea seems like a good one for reducing distracted driving, studies show it is not an improvement at all. According to the AAA, hand-free voice messaging causes a "large" amount of mental distraction. In addition, Texas A & M Transportation Institute has found hands-free texting was just as distracting as a driver who actually uses his hands to text. Both methods slowed driver's reaction times to almost two times that of a non-distracted driver. Without question, distracted driving is dangerous. And so, the best and safest advice remains to simply shut up and drive. Coming from someone who remembers the days of finding a pay phone if you wanted to talk to someone while out on the roads, pull over if your text message can't wait until you reach your destination. You might just save your life or someone else's.

Do I Have to Give A Statement to The Insurance Adjuster?

You have no legal obligation to give a statement about the events giving rise to a Tennessee automobile, truck or motorcycle accident to the adjuster to the at-fault driver's insurance company.  We typically recommend that our clients do not give such a statement, especially before they are prepared by one of our lawyers on how to give a proper statement.

We are not suggesting that we ever permit a client (or a witness) to change his or her testimony.  Nor to encourage a client (or witness) to do so.  But preparation for a recorded statement (and they are almost always recorded) greatly reduces the chance of an error that can harm the case.

On the other hand, you probably do have a contractual obligation to give a statement to your own insurance company.  Your insurance policy probably requires you to do so.  Once again, it is best that you seek the advice and help of a lawyer before giving the statement.  

Why should you be concerned about giving a statement to your own insurance company?  Because if you assert a claim arising out of your accident and the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance to compensate you for your injuries and losses your insurance company's Tennessee uninsured / under-insured insurance coverage may be available to you.  Which means that your insurance company is potentially adverse to you.  That is, your insurance company may actually be working against you as you attempt to collect money for your injuries and losses.

Once again, it would be inappropriate for any lawyer to encourage you to change your testimony and we would never do that.  What we can do is prepare you to give an accurate account of what happened in the accident and how those injuries have impacted your life.  Appropriate preparation can make a significant difference in the value of your case.

Traffic Deaths in Tennessee Are Way Below That of 2012

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that deaths in traffic accidents are significant'y lower in 2013 than they were at this point in the year in 2012.

By this date last year, 458 people in Tennessee had died from traffic related accidents.  This year, 388 people have died, a drop of 70 people.

Motorcycle deaths are down 25%, from 60 to 45.  Bicyclist deaths are down almost 50%, from 7 to 4.

One troubling fact is that pedestrian deaths have increased by over 30%, from  20 to 38.

Please use care on the roadway this summer.  Wear your seat belt, drive at a speed safe for the conditions, and carefully limit your alcohol consumption if you are going to operate a vehicle.

Will the At-Fault Driver's Insurance Company Have to Pay My Future Medical Bills?

Under Tennessee injury law, a person who causes harm to another is responsible for the reasonable medical costs incurred by the injured party to diagnosis and treat injuries that were caused in the incident and to pay the present day value of future medical expenses likely to be incurred in the future as a result of injuries caused in the incident.

However, the at-fault driver's insurance company is only responsible for future medical expenses that are more likely than not to occur in the future, not those that might occur.  Thus, your ability to recover future medical expenses for injuries that arise out of car or truck accident is dependent on medical testimony that, more likely than not, an injury that happened in the accident will require medical treatment in the future.

The following example will help in understanding the law.  Assume you are hurt in a Tennessee truck  accident and suffer a fractured hip.  You undergo hip surgery and physical therapy.  Your total medical bills are $60,000.  The insurance company wants to settle your case, but you and your lawyer are concerned about the risk of future surgery because your doctor has told you that you might have to have hip replacement surgery in the future.  Hip replacement surgery is expensive, and you want to have the at-fault driver's insurance company pay for the surgery if it occurs.  How can you make that happen?

You cannot.  The at-fault driver's insurance company will never agree to cover medical bills that are incurred after your settlement or trial.  And your lawyer can not ask the judge or jury for a court order that requires the the at-fault driver or that driver's insurance company to pay your future medical bills as they occur in the future.  

If you want to recover the value of the future surgery, you will have to present medical proof that, (a) your hip was fractured in the accident; (b) your hip had to be surgically repaired; (c) as a result it is likely that you will need hip replacement surgery in the future.  Here is a short-hand version of the testimony you would like to have:

In my opinion as an orthopedic surgeon, it is very likely Ms. Jones will require hip replacement surgery in 12 - 15 years.  The cost of that surgery today would be $75,000.  After that surgery, it is my opinion that Ms. Jones will require 18 - 24 physical therapy sessions to recover full mobility.  Today, those sessions cost $110 each.    In my experience, a hip replacement typically provides relief to the patient for only 15 years.  Thus, give the fact that Mrs. Jones was only 48 years old when her hip was fractured in the truck accident, she will need at least one more hip replacement in the lifetime.  After this surgery, the same number of physical therapy sessions will be necessary.  I hold these opinions to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

With this type of evidence, a lawyer will then use an appropriate expert to estimate the costs of two hip replacement surgeries  and the future physical therapy (adjusting for inflation ) and the same (or another) expert to reduce the cost of the future treatment to current day dollars (the "present value" of the future expenses).  This number is then taken into account in determining the total settlement or, if there is no settlement, the total damages awarded by the jury.

As indicated earlier, however, medical evidence is required to prove these expenses and the need for the surgery, and the medical evidence must meet the "more likely than not" threshold.  If a doctor says that future medical expenses are only "possible," that they "could" happen, or that they "might" occur, Tennessee law will not permit those expenses to be recovered in a personal injury case.  Insurance companies are well-aware of this law, so it is important to have documentation of the this medical evidence at the time of settlement negotiations.  If there is a trial, testimony of the appropriate experts will be required to establish the need and cost of future medical expenses.

The entire issue of future medical expenses is another reason why it is important to employ an experienced person injury lawyer to assist you in Tennessee automobile and truck wreck cases and in all other types of personal injury cases.  A good lawyer not only understands the law but can work with medical expenses to present your case in the best possible light.  Of course, a lawyer cannot or will not force a doctor to give anything other than the doctor's honest opinion, but a very good lawyer will work with your doctor to make sure he or she understands that the law does not require absolute certainty on this issue but instead only requires that an opinion on future medical expenses be held at the "more likely than not" level of certainty.

 

 

I Need a Tennessee Car Accident Lawyer. Do I Need to Pay You A Fee to Meet With Me?

 No.  At the Law Offices of John Day, P.C. we do not charge a fee to meet with any potential client who wants to discuss a potential car accident, truck accident or other personal injury claim with us.  We will meet with you or a member of your family in our office, your home or even the hospital, depending on the circumstances.  

Why do we not charge for an initial meeting?  There are two reasons.  First, we understand that most people who meet with us about a potential injury claim are already facing a bunch of bills arising from the event that requires them to see a lawyer.  Our potential clients are facing medical bills, time lost from work, and other financial stresses, and the last thing they need to spend money on is an hour meeting with a lawyer.

Second, when you meet with us to see if we are the right lawyer for you we are meeting with you and making sure that you are a client that we believe we can help.  From time to time, people come to us with cases that we believe simply lack merit and we simply cannot help those people other than to tell them the problems we see with their case.  Other people come to us with legal problems that do not justify the cost of litigation.  So, we feel it is only fair that we do not impose any sort of a charge for an initial meeting with a personal injury client because both of us are trying to figure out whether there is a good "fit" between us.

Call us at 866-812-8787 to set up a meeting to discuss your potential case.  

Does The At-Fault Driver's Insurance Company Have to Pay for A Rental Car While My Car Is Being Fixed?

Technically speaking, the automobile insurance company for the driver who caused your accident and damaged your car or truck does not have the responsibility to pay for a rental vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired.  However, as a practical matter, many insurance companies will pay for the cost of a rental car for a reasonable period of time while a vehicle is being repaired.

Why do these insurance companies pay for a rental car when the law doesn't require them to do so?  Because the law requires the insurance company to pay damages for "loss of use" while the vehicle is out of service.  The time that the vehicle is being evaluated for repairs and being repaired must be a reasonable period of time.  

It is difficult to determine the value of "loss of use" but one good way to avoid future litigation over the meaning the phrase and the damages that must be paid is to supply a replacement vehicle for the use of the person whose vehicle was damaged in the wreck.  Thus, insurance companies who believe that their insured driver was at fault will frequently give the claimant the right to rent a replacement vehicle.

As indicated, this right is limited by the rule of reasonableness.  The length that the rental car will be made available is dependent on the circumstances and is dependent on the circumstances.

Does the fact that the insurance company for the at-fault driver has given you the right to get a rental car mean that they are going to treat you fairly in your personal injury claim?  No.  The fact that the insurance company got you a rental car cannot be used against the insurance company in court and does not mean that they will properly and fairly evaluate your claim for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  Unless your injury is very minor, you will still benefit from the assistance of lawyer in evaluating your case and negotiating with the at-fault driver's insurance company.  

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Hit and Run Accidents in Tennessee

If you are involved in a Tennessee hit and run accident you may still be able to recover damages for the injuries you sustained in the accident.  How?  Your uninsured motorist insurance coverage on your vehicle protects you from hit and run drivers.

To prove an uninsured motorist claim in a hit and run case, you have to prove that t(a) here was actual physical contact between your vehicle and the hit and run driver; (b) the driver that hit you was negligent; (c) you reported the accident to a law enforcement agency within a reasonable period of time; (d) you were not negligent in failing to learn the identity of the hit and run driver or the owner of that driver's vehicle; and (e) the nature and extent of your injuries caused in the accident.

Different rules apply if the there was no physical contact between your vehicle and the other vehicle that you say caused the accident.  

In this type of case, your insurance company will be adverse to your personal interests.  Why? Because you will be asking them to pay you damages because of the negligence of another driver. You paid for this type of insurance coverage, and you have a right to collect it if you can prove the case as set forth above, but of course the insurance company will not be eager to pay the claim. They will hire a lawyer to defend their interests, and it is recommended that you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you in your negotiations with the company.  In fact, we recommend that you hire a lawyer promptly after the accident and before you give a statement about the accident to your own insurance company. 

The amount of recovery that you will be able to make will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries and the amount of uninsured motorist insurance coverage that you purchased.  In Tennessee the minimum amount of uninsured motorist insurance coverage the is available for purchase to protect any one person is $25,000.  Unfortunately, some people signed a document which waives uninsured motorist and thus they have no insurance coverage whatsoever for hit and run accidents.

Finally, remember that the fact that at-fault driver fled the scene of an accident does not mean that he or she cannot be identified.  There may be an eyewitness to the wreck or surveillance cameras belonging to a local business may have captured important evidence concerning the accident.  This is yet another reason to promptly get the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer - the lawyer can help investigate the incident before the evidence is lost.

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Why Can't I Sue the Insurance Company of the Person Who Caused My Car Accident?

If you are injured in a Tennessee car accident, truck accident or any other type of event, you do not have the right to file suit against the insurance company of the person or company that caused the injury.  Instead, if you want to recover damages for what happened you must file suit against the person or company that caused the injury.

Why?  Because, like most states, Tennessee does not permit what is called a "direct action" against the insurance company for the person or company that caused the accident.  In fact, under Tennessee law, the judge and jury are never even told that the person or company that you filed a lawsuit against has insurance.

What the Legislature is afraid of is that if a jury knows that the person who is being sued has insurance to pay for some or all of the loss the jury might award damages regardless of fault.  This is clearly a myth - most jurors rightly assume that the person being sued has insurance and there are plenty of court cases that result in no money or a very low amount being awarded to the injured party.  Nevertheless, we continue to hide the fact of insurance coverage from jurors.

So, if you have a Tennessee personal injury claim that is not settled and you still want to seek the damages you are entitled to receive under Tennessee law you will have to file suit against the individual or company that caused the accident that caused your injury.  

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Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Tennessee

Tennessee law requires that a personal injury lawsuit be filed within one year of the date causing an accident.  Failure to file a lawsuit on time against the person or company responsible for your injuries will result in a loss of your rights.

There are certain exceptions to the one year deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits, but you should not assume that any exception applies to you unless a competent lawyer familiar with all of the facts advises you that you have more than one year to file a lawsuit.  

Do not wait until the last few days before the one-year deadline to file a lawsuit expires to hire a lawyer. Delay in seeking a lawyer means that valuable evidence may be lost and it is likely that mistakes have been made that effect the value of the case.   

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What Is A Summary Judgment in a Tennessee Auto or Truck Accident Case?

A "summary judgment" is a decision by a judge that an automobile accident, truck accident, or other type of case should not go to a full trial before a jury.  A judge can make a decision not to let a jury decide a case only if the judge determines that there is no dispute about the important facts of the case and that a reasonable jury could arrive at only one result in the case.  If that is true, the judge will grant summary judgment (that is, a judgment before trial) to the person who he or she thinks should win the case before permitting a full trial on the case before a jury.

Sometimes a judge will grant a "partial summary judgment."  Thus, the judge will determine that a car accident or truck accident was the sole fault of the defendant (the person or company sued in the case) but a jury must determine what damages were caused in the wreck and the monetary value  of the damages.

Summary judgments are very rare in auto accident and truck accident cases.  They are much more common in medical malpractice cases and in cases where people have been injured by defective or unreasonably dangerous products.

 

Obtaining Medical Records in Tennessee Car and Truck Accident Cases - Why Does It Take So Long?

It is almost always necessary for an experienced Tennessee injury attorney to obtain an injured person's medical records before a personal injury claim for a car or truck accident can be fully evaluated,  Also, the at-fault driver's insurance company will also want to see the records before authorizing a settlement of the claim.

Many personal injury clients get frustrated at the delay in obtaining medical records.  It can often take a month or more to obtain medical records from doctors, hospitals, and physical therapists, and even more time from certain health care providers.  There is no good excuse for these delays - virtually every provider charges for this service and the delays are extremely frustrating, both for the lawyer and the lawyer's client.

The delays are caused because the health care providers don't have enough staff on hand to meet the demand for records, and put record requests by attorneys for clients at the bottom of the stack.  In other words, these health care providers give a higher preference for record-copying to other health care providers and insurance companies than they do lawyers.

Many health care providers out-source record requests to for-profit copy centers.

At the Law Offices of John Day, P.C. we have recently hired a company that specializes in obtaining medical records and bills to help us get records for our clients.  This company performs this service for health care providers and insurers and obtains all records in a digital format.  This service allows us to obtain records quicker because the time for the record request and the records themselves to travel by mail is eliminated.  The company also follows-up on record requests by mail and, because it frequently has multiple requests outstanding to the same provider, is more likely to have a good relationship with the provider  and can improve the response time.

Our firm understands that the delay caused by obtaining medical records is very frustrating and we continue to work to find a way to keep those delays to a minimum.

 

Deadline for Filing Automobile Accident Lawsuits in Tennessee

Tennessee law requires that lawsuits concerning injury claims that arise from automobile accidents must be filed in court no later than one year after the date of the accident.  Thus, the case must be settled, or a lawsuit filed, or the injured person's rights will be lost.

There are a couple of exceptions to this general rule, but you should not assume that any claim survives the one-year deadline unless a Tennessee automobile accident lawyer familiar with all of the facts tells you that you have more than one year to file suit.

You should not wait one year to seek the advice of a lawyer.  Not only does a lawyer need some amount of time to file suit, but he or she must investigate the merits of the case.  In addition, a delay in hiring lawyer means important evidence can be lost, memories can fade, and thus your case can be adversely affected.  It is recommended that you seek an experienced accident attorney promptly after the accident so that you can fully understand your rights and begin to take the steps to protect those rights.

 

The At-Fault Driver Has No Insurance - Now What?

As a Nashville and Tennessee automobile accident attorney, one question that I am frequently asked is what happens when the person who causes the motor vehicle does not have any liability insurance. Here is the answer?

1.  First, don't assume that there is no liability insurance just because the driver did not have proof of insurance in his or her vehicle at the time of the accident.  In Tennessee you are supposed to have proof of insurance present when you drive (most of us keep a card mailed to us by our insurer in the glove compartment of the vehicle) but some people forget to do so or do not replace an expired card with a new card.  So, even if the police officer investigating the crash reports that the at-fault driver did not have proof of insurance, it is possible that the driver had liability insurance in place at the time of the crash.

2.  It is possible that some other person (other than the driver of the car or the owner of the car) is responsible for the crash.  For example, on several occasions we have discovered that an uninsured driver was running an errand for his employer at the time of the crash.  Under Tennessee law, the employer is responsible for the crash if the employee was engaged in an activity that was furthering the employer's business interest at the time of the crash.  This is true even if the employee was using the employee's personal vehicle.   From time to time there are others who contributed to cause the crash, such as  the bar who served too much alcohol to the at-fault driver, a defect in the roadway; an unsafe or defective vehicle, and in appropriate cases those options need to be investigated as well.

3. The insurance on your vehicle may be available to you.  Your "uninsured" or "underinsured" motorist coverage helps to protect you from loss if the driver who hit you is either uninsured or lacks sufficient liability insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries.

4.  The assets of the at-fault driver.  A person's financial responsibility for an accident does not stop at the limits of their insurance.  Each person is responsible for the harm he or she causes, and liability insurance exists to help limit the direct financial impact of that financial responsibility.  (In essence, you pay premiums for liability insurance to minimize the financial impact of a mistake you might make in the future.)  For example, we recently resolved a case against the estate of a driver who severely hurt our client.  The at-fault driver (who tragically died in the crash) had only $50,000 in liability insurance on her vehicle but had an estate worth several hundred thousand dollars, and we made a claim and recovery against it.  

5.  The income of the at-fault driver.  Some at-fault drivers have a future income stream that can help satisfy their financial responsibility to a person that they hurt or killed in a car or truck accident.

Does this mean that we are always able to collect 100% of the damages that are suffered by a person who is injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident?  No.  Unfortunately, many at-fault drivers have inadequate insurance, many drivers who are injured do not have an appropriate level of uninsured / underinsured motorist insurance, and at-fault drivers were not on the business of another at the time of an accident.  There are many people who cause accidents who have no assets and little income.  

However, we believe it makes sense to hire us to examine all of these options for you and give you advice about the right course of action under your circumstances.  If you have been involved in a Tennessee car, truck or motorcycle accident call us for a free consultation at 615.742.4880 or 866-812-8787,  Or, fill out  this Contact Form and we will call you.  As I said above, I cannot guarantee that we will be able to help you recover 100% of the losses you incurred because of someone else's carelessness, but  I can guarantee that we will give you our honest opinion about what avenues need to be explored.

Distracted Driving Kills

Distracted driving is taking lives on our highways, and this study takes a look at what is taking the attenion of drivers away from the road.

According to police report data analyzed by Erie Insurance, a automobility liability insurer, of the more than 65,000 people killed in car crashes over the past two years, one in 10 were in crashes where at least one of the drivers was distracted. the data comes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)  maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Rank Distraction Type Percentage of
Distracted Drivers
1 Generally distracted or “lost in thought” (daydreaming) 62%
2 Cell phone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting) 12%
3 Outside person, object or event, such as rubbernecking 7%
4 Other occupants (talking with or looking at other people in car) 5%
5 Using or reaching for device brought into vehicle, such as navigational device, headphones 2%
6 Eating or drinking 2%
7 Adjusting audio or climate controls 2%
8 Using other device/controls integral to vehicle, such as adjusting rear view mirrors, seats, or using OEM navigation system 1%
9 Moving object in vehicle, such as pet or insect 1%
10 Smoking related (includes smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in ashtray) 1%

 

The numbers are probably conservative (that is, under-reported) because many people are reluctant to admit that they were distracted immediately before the crash.

The study did not look at the number of injuried caused by distracted driving, but instead looked only at deaths.

 

Can I Still Bring A Lawsuit If I Was Hurt in A Car Accident That Wasn't My Fault But I Was Driving Without A Valid License?

From time to time we are asked to represent people who are injured in a car accident but were driving illegally at the time of the wreck, that is, they did not have a valid license to operate a car or truck on Tennessee roads.  These people are obviously concerned that their failure to have a driver's license will affect their ability to recover damages for the personal injury car accident that was not their fault.

Tennessee law provides that the failure to have a driver's license does not affect a person's right to recover compensation in a car or truck accident that was not the driver's fault.  I am not saying that you should drive without a valid license, or if you have a restricted license that you should drive outside the proper scope of the restrictions.  It is important to follow the law.  My only point is that if you make a mistake and drive without a valid license or outside the scope of a restricted license and end up in an car or truck accident that is not your fault current law says that your mistake cannot be used against you.

Despite this law, I can envision several circumstances in which the failure to have a valid license at the time of the wreck might become relevant in a car, so I encourage you to tell your lawyer the truth about the status of your license during your initial meeting with the lawyer.

Do you have additional questions about Tennessee personal injury law or Tennessee wrongful death law?  Call me at 866-812-8787 for a free consultation. Or, fill out the Contact Form and we will call you.

Laws Limiting Driving By the Elderly in Tennessee

Many states have laws that place some restrictions on elderly drivers, but Tennessee does not.  Here is  a list of the limitations that other states have placed on elderly drivers.

Texting While Driving Injuries Increase

As a Tennessee automobile accident attorney for over three decades, I have seen lots of incidents where cell phone use (either for calls or texting) causes car wrecks.  This study from the West Virginia School of Public Health puts numbers to our experience.

The study finds that in 2003, cell phone use by vehicle operators was estimated to cause more than 300,000 total injuries annually, 2,600 of which resulted in fatalities. The numbers increased 22 percent between 2005 and 2009. The authors of the study believe that the problem is expected to worsen in coming years, despite efforts to curtail distracted driving.

The bottom line is this:  don't text and drive.  And, if you must use a cell phone while driving (and a teenager never should) make sure you use a hands-free option and then only when traffic conditions permit you to do so safely.

 

 

 

Texting While Driving Injuries Increase

As a Tennessee automobile accident attorney for over three decades, I have seen lots of incidents where cell phone use (either for calls or texting) causes car wrecks.  This study from the West Virginia School of Public Health puts numbers to our experience.

The study finds that in 2003, cell phone use by vehicle operators was estimated to cause more than 300,000 total injuries annually, 2,600 of which resulted in fatalities. The numbers increased 22 percent between 2005 and 2009. The authors of the study believe that the problem is expected to worsen in coming years, despite efforts to curtail distracted driving.

The bottom line is this:  don't text and drive.  And, if you must use a cell phone while driving (and a teenager never should) make sure you use a hands-free option and then only when traffic conditions permit you to do so safely.

 

 

 

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Statistics for Clarksville and Montgomery County, Tennessee

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts  has released information about Tennessee personal injury and Tennessee wrongful death cases filed and tried  in Clarksville and Montgomery County, Tennessee for the year ended June 30, 2012:

Here is the data;

  • Total personal injury and wrongful death cases filed in court: - 281
  • Total personal injury and wrongful death cases resolved in court - 283
  • Total number of cases going to trial - 12
  • Total number of jury trials - 4
  • Total number of non-jury trials - 8
  • Total number of cases in which damages were awarded 2 (17%)
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded was between $1 and $99,999 - 1
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded was between $100,000 and $999,99 - 1
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded exceeded $1,000,000 - 0
  • Total damages awarded in all cases - $126,126
  • Average damages awarded - $63,063

The average success rate for plaintiffs at trial in Tennessee was 38.49% for 2011-12. Thus, the win rate for plaintiffs in Montgomery County was much lower than the statewide-average.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate your way through the complicated court system and can prepare your case so that it can be resolved for an amount you deserve.
If you need a Clarksville or Montgomery County,Tennessee personal injury attorney call me for a free consultation. My toll-free number is 866-812-8787. You may also complete our Contact Form and we will call you back promptly. 

I Just Got Sued in an Automobile Accident Case. Now What?

If you received a summons and complaint (the documents which initiate a civil lawsuit in Tennessee) you need to immediately notify your insurance company that you have been sued.  If you have already reported the claim, the insurance company will already have told you to whom  you should send the papers.  If you have not reported the claim, call your insurance agent and tell them that you have been sued.  The agent will tell you what to do with the papers.

Your insurance company will hire you a lawyer who will defend you.  If you don't hear from the lawyer within 20 days of the time you contact the insurance company, call the insurance company (or agent) again and let them know you have not heard from the lawyer.

 To understand more about the litigation process, read our Legal Guide called "Understanding the Steps in the Civil Litigation Process."

Fatalities on Tennessee Roads in 2012

Deaths on Tennessee roads increased in 2012 over a year earlier.  Here is some of the key statistics as gathered by the Tennessee Department of Safety:

  • Total fatalities - 1022, up 85 from 2011
  • Teen driver involved in death - 115
  • Senior driver involved in death - 190
  • Rural deaths - 542
  • Urban deaths - 480
  • Pedestrians - 67
  • Large Truck Involved - 102
  • Bus Involved - 8
  • Motorcyclists - 139
  • ATV rider - 10 

Is this number of deaths an anomaly?  Unfortunately, it appears that they are not.  The death rate for January 2013 is 6 people higher than it was in January 2012.

Don't become a statistic.  Wear a seat belt.  Don't drink and drive.  Don't text and drive.  Drive defensively.  Stay within the speed limit, reducing your speed in when required by traffic or weather.

Tennessee Highway Deaths Increase by 8% in 2012

Seventy-nine (79) more people died on Tennessee highways in 2012 than the total deaths reported in 2011, according to figures released by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Some 1016 people died on Tennessee highways in 2012, compared with 937 deaths in 2011.

Here are more statistics from the Tennessee Highway Patrol's report:

  • The most deaths were reported in March (107).
  • The fewest deaths were reported in April (67).
  • 542 of the deaths occurred in rural areas, and 474 of the deaths were in urban areas.
  • A large truck was involved in 97 of the deaths.
  • A bus was involved in 7 of the deaths.
  • 138 motorcyclists were killed.
  • 8 bicyclists were killed, as were 67 pedestrians
  • A teen driver was involved in 114 of the deaths.

Another report by the Tennessee Highway Patrol breaks down the motor vehicle death data by county:

  • The county with the most motor vehicle deaths was Shelby County, with 90 deaths.
  • Davidson County (Nashville) had 65 deaths.
  • Van Buren County had no motor vehicle deaths.

The 2012 death rate is still below that of 2010, when 1031 deaths were reported by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Each highway death frequently impacts at least two families, one tragedy for the family of the decedent and another for the person who negligently caused the death of another human being.  The impact of these events ripples through the lives of all involved, and ha significant emotional and financial consequences.

As Tennessee wrongful death lawyers we have been honored to represent many families who have lost loved ones, sometimes as a result of car and truck accidents and other times as a result of Tennessee medical errors or other negligent acts.  If you have lost a loved one as a result of a carelessness of another, call us for a free consultation.  Our toll-free number is 866-812-8787.  If you wish you may complete the Contact Form and we will call you.

Drowsy Drivers Cause Injuries and Deaths on Tennessee Highways

Sleepy drivers pose a hazard on Tennessee roadways, not only to themselves put also to others using the roadway.  Drowsy drivers pose a risk to drivers of cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and even pedestrians on Tennessee roads.

Drowsy drivers cause 2.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes and 2.0% of all crashes, according to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Techniques to stay awake while driving, such as turning up the radio, opening the window, and turning up the air conditioner, have not been found to be an effective way of preventing crashes.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) included a survey of drivers in 19 states and the District of Columbia.  In this study, 4.2% of drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving in the last 30 days.   Sleepy driving decreased with age.  The participating state with the highest percentage of people who admitted to falling asleep while driving was Texas (6.1%). Persons who reported snoring or usually sleeping ≤6 hours per day were more likely to report falling asleep while driving.

Tennessee was not included in the study, but there is no reason to believe that the numbers in Tennessee would be much different than those from other states.  A total of 1016 people died on Tennessee highways in 2012 (an increase of 79 death from number reported in 2011).  if the NHTSA numbers hold true in Tennessee, 25 of those deaths were caused as a result of drowsy drivers.

Warning signs of drowsy driving include frequent yawning or blinking, difficulty remembering the past few miles driven, missing exits, drifting from traffic lane, or hitting a rumble strip.  What should you do if you are having difficulty sleeping while driving?  Pull off the road in a safe place and rest until you are no longer drowsy.  The life you save may be your own.

 

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New Rules For Where Individuals Can Be Sued in Auto Accident Cases in Tennessee

A high percentage of Tennessee car accident cases are settled before a lawsuit is filed. However, if a lawsuit is necessary, there are new rules about where a lawsuit against an individual sued in a Tennessee automobile accident case be filed.

Under the new rules, an individual can only be sued in the county where  the car accident occurred or in the county where the person who caused the car accident resides.  (Note:  different rules apply for claims against corporations and other legal entities.)

So, if a person is injured in a Williamson County, Tennessee car accident and the wreck was caused by a Davidson County, Tennessee driver,  a lawsuit could be filed in either county.

It makes no difference where the injured person lives.  The injured person could live in Knox County, Tennessee - the lawsuit would still have to be filed in either Davidson or Williamson County.

An experienced Tennessee personal injury lawsuit will be able to select the best place -  Davidson or Williamson County - to file a lawsuit if it becomes necessary.

Do you have a question about your car accident claim?  Call me at 866-812-8787 for a free consultation or fill out the Contact Form and we will call you.  We represent those injured in car accidents anywhere in Tennessee.  If you have been injured in another state, we have relationships with lawyers in virtually every state and will be happy to assist you find a lawyer in that state.

1 out of 4 Drivers on Tennessee Highways Have No Insurance

Recent data suggests that 24% of Tennessee drivers do not have liability insurance on their vehicle.

Liability insurance exists to make monetary payments to those who are injured as a result of a negligent error by a person who has the insurance.  Tennessee state law requires every driver to have liability insurance, but it appears that almost 1 out of 4 drivers is violating this law.

What does this mean?  It means that if you are in an automobile accident that is not your fault you will have to bear financial responsibility for your medical bills and loss of income unless the at-fault party happens to have personal financial resources.  You will also receive no payment for any pain, suffering, disfigurement or loss of enjoyment of life you experience in the accident.

How do you protect yourself?  Purchase uninsured / underinsured motorist insurance coverage on your vehicle.  This type of insurance is quite inexpensive and it protects you from (a) at-fault drivers who have no liability insurance and (b) at-fault drivers who have some liability insurance but not enough to pay for your medical bills, lost income and other damages arising from a car wreck.

Under Tennessee law, you automatically purchase uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to your liability insurance coverage unless you sign a document indicating that you want reduced or no uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage.  As Nashville and Middle Tennessee car accident lawyer I would never recommend reducing or waiving uninsured / underinsured motorist insurance coverage.

Look at the "declarations page" of your automobile insurance policy to determine whether you have uninsured / underinsured motorist insurance coverage and how much coverage you have.  It is often described as "UM / UIM" insurance.  Then, call your agent and find out how much it costs to increase your UM / UIM insurance coverage - you will be surprised how little it will cost to protect yourself from uninsured, at-fault drivers.  

I have represented those injured in car and truck accidents and the families of those who have lost their lives in such accidents for over 30 years.  Call me at 866-812-8787 for a free consultation about your Tennessee car accident or any other type of Tennessee personal injury case.  Or, feel free to complete our Contact Form and our office will call you.

 

 

Texting and Use of Cell Phones Are Killing People on Our Highways

The federal government has determined that  3,092 people died last year in "distraction-affected" crashes, a newly refined measurement meant to tally the effect of texting, phoning or simply answering a call while driving.

The report did not break down the data by state, but Tennessee has about 2% of the country's population and therefore it is reasonable to assume that about 60 people in Tennessee died in such accidents.

Click on the link to learn more about the perils of distracted driving in Tennessee.

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Alcohol Impaired Automobile Accidents Decline in United States

The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration has found that alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities declined by 2.5 percent in 2011 (Table 3), accounting for 31 percent of overall fatalities.  The number of Tennessee deaths caused by drunk drivers is not yet available.

An alcohol-impaired-driving fatality is defined as a fatality in a crash involving a driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or greater. The number of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes declined for most vehicle types with the largest decline among drivers of large trucks (16%) and vans (9.8%). Fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired motorcycle operators increased by 8.6 percent—the only category of drivers by vehicle type with an increase in alcohol impaired crash involvement.

The total death on our nation's highways were 32,367, and 9878 of those deaths were found to be related to people impaired with alcohol. 

Use your head - don't drink and drive.  If you plan on drinking, select a designated driver.  The life you save may be your own.

Do you need the assistance of a lawyer to represent you in your car or truck accident claim? Please call John Day for a free consultation. My number is 866-812-8787 or fill out this Contact Form.

Tennessee Automobile Crash Deaths Decline in 2011 But Are Back Up in 2012

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finished a review of 2011 motor vehicle accidents and concluded that the death rate in Tennessee automobile accidents decreased by 8.3% for that year.

In 2010, 1032 people died on Tennessee roads.  In 2011, the number dropped to 946.  This means that 86  lives were spared in 2011.

However, 2012 is not looking good.  As of December 12, 2012, 957 people had already died on our state's roads, more than in all of 2011.  It appears that our death rate will come close to what it was in 2010.

Please don't add to these statistics.  Wear your seat belt, avoid the excessive use of alcohol when driving, and drive defensively. 

 

"The Insurance Adjuster Was So Nice In The Beginning"

We have a significant number of people who contact us several months after a Tennessee automobile wreck, after most of the physical evidence is gone and poor decisions have been made about pursing appropriate health care.  When we ask why the person waited so long to contact us, the response is usually something like "the insurance adjuster was just so nice in the beginning."

Well, sure.

The job of the insurance adjuster is to resolve an insurance claim as quickly and inexpensively as possible.  It just makes good sense - and good business - for the adjuster to be polite and indeed downright friendly.  Why?  Because you as the claimant are more likely to cooperate with the adjuster and give the adjuster the information he or she needs if the adjuster is friendly.  The insurance company doesn't want you to cut off communication and seek a lawyer, and the best way keep you from doing so is to be nice.

Does that mean that the insurance adjuster is being dishonest?  Well, that would depend on the exact words that he or she used, but ordinarily they are not being dishonest.  For example, the adjuster may say, "get medical treatment and as soon as you are feeling better we will work with you to settle this claim."  That is not a lie - if the claim is valid, they will try to settle the claim with you.  But what amount will they pay?  They will pay an amount they are willing to pay, not necessarily an amount that is fair.

Remember, insurance adjusters are trained professionals who are obligated to serve the best interests of their employer, not your best interest.  It is not their job to be "fair" to you - it is their job to pay as little as possible to resolve claims.

So, while the insurance adjuster is being friendly and telling you how you can avoid the expense of a lawyer, evidence is disappearing and decisions are being made that can adversely impact the value of your case.

That is why the Law Offices of John Day, P.C. recommends that Tennessee personal injury claimants call us promptly after a car or truck accident or any other incident that causes injuries.  It just makes sense to know your legal rights as promptly as possible and, if appropriate, get help securing evidence you will need to evaluate and win your case. We do not charge for an initial consultation, and thus it costs you nothing to take this step.  

Call us at 866-812-8787 if we can help you.  Or fill out the Contact form and we will contact you and help you if we can.

 

Why Should I Seek Medical Treatment Promptly if I Am Hurt in A Tennessee Automobile or Truck Accident?

As lawyers who have represented people in Tennessee truck and car accidents for over thirty years, we cannot over-emphasize the need to seek prompt medical attention for injuries received in auto and truck accidents.

Here is the problem:  if you delay seeking medical attention, the at-fault driver's insurance company will argue that you were not hurt, that your injuries were not serious, or that your complaints are related to something other than the motor vehicle accident.  

There is a tendency for good people NOT to seek medical attention promptly, out of fear that they will be deemed whiners.  This thought process, while admirable, actually works against a person when they later try to resolve a personal injury claim.

Thus, we recommend that if a person who has been involved in an accident is having a medical problem to see a doctor.  The injured person should accurately report the problems he or she is having, being careful not to magnify or minimize any problem.  Follow the doctor's advice, including going to a follow-up appointment if necessary.  If medication is prescribed, take it according to the doctor's order.  If physical therapy is prescribed, attend the physical therapy sessions without fail and work hard to reach a full recovery.  

Do you need the assistance of a lawyer to represent you in your car or truck accident claim?  Please call John Day for a free consultation.  My number is 866-812-8787 or fill out this Contact Form.

Damages Recoverable for Personal Injuries from in Tennessee Car Accidents

A person who suffers an injury in Tennessee automobile accident as a result of the negligence of another person has a right to recover damages for their injuries.  As a Tennessee car accident attorney i am fortunate to have represented many people who have been injured in car and truck accidents.

Tennessee law provides that a car or truck accident  injury victim can recover damages for the following:

  • medical expenses
  • lost wages
  • pain 
  • suffering 
  • disfigurement 
  • disability
  • loss of enjoyment of life.

If the injury received in the car or truck accident results in future or permanent physical or emotional problems, additional damages may be recovered for 

  • future medical bills related to the injury
  • future lost wages or lost earning capacity 
  • pain
  • suffering
  • disfigurement
  • disability 
  • loss of enjoyment of life.

The jury evaluates each of these elements of the damage claim and makes a decision as to the fair value of the claim.  Of course, these same factors are considered in reaching a settlement of the claim.

There is no artificial limit on damages to automobile or truck injury victims if  they were injured before October 1, 2011.  For those injured on or after October 1, 2012, Governor Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly have placed an arbitrary limit on the damages that can be recovered.  Although there is no limit on the recovery of medical expenses and lost wages, there is an government-created cap of $750,000 for claims for pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.  I believe the damage cap to be unfair, and hopefully the Tennessee Supreme Court will declare the damage caps unconstitutional.

There are a couple of exceptions to the $750,000 cap.  An experienced Nashville car accident attorney will know the law of damages and be able to tell you whether you fall within any exceptions to the arbitrary cap on damages.  

Injuries To Children From Riding in the Back of Pick-Up Trucks

Tennessee law provides that it is illegal for children under the age of 6 to ride in the bed of 3/4 quarter ton or less pick-up trucks while the trucks are being operated on any local, county or state road.

Exceptions are made for parades and similar events if the speed of the truck is less than twenty miles per hour and when the child is in the truck bed in connection with agricultural activities.

Tennessee counties are given the express right to enact ordinances to raise the age limit from 6 years of age to 12.  

If your child was injured while riding in the bed of a pick-up truck, feel free to contact us to determine his or her legal rights.  We do not charge any fee for an initial consultation and, if we are able to help, we accept representation on a contingent fee basis (no recovery, no fee).

To reach us, call me (John Day) 615-244-2582 or 866-812-8787 or fill out the Contact Form.

Safest Drivers in Tennessee

The 2012 Allstate America's Best Drivers Report says that Chattanooga and Knoxville have better drivers than Nashville and Memphis.

Drivers in Chattanooga ranked 26th on the Best Drivers List, with drivers having an average of 11.4 years between accidents.  This means that drivers in Chattanooga were 12% less likely to have an accident than the national average.

Knoxville beat out Chattanooga, ranking 9th on the national list.  Drivers there had an accident on the average of every 12.2 years.  Knoxville's relative accident likelihood was 18.1% less than the national average.

Nashville limped in at 51st,  with an average of 10.2 years between accidents.  Nashville drivers were only 2.1% less likely to have an accident than the national average.

Memphis brought up the rear.  It ranked 75th, with 9.8 years between accidents, 2.2% worse than the national average.

The worst major city in America?  Philadelphia, with the average driver having an accident every 6.1 years.  The best city?  Souix Falls, S.D., where the average driver will go 13.8 years between accidents.

We have helped Tennessee auto and truck accident clients receive compensation for their injuries for over 30 years.  Please call at 615.742.4880 or 866.812.8787 if we can assist you.

Tennessee Auto and Truck Accidents Caused By Drivers Leaving Parking Lots

As car and truck accident attorneys serving people in Nashville and across Tennessee, we receive many calls every year from people who were injured when another driver pulled out of a parking lot and collided with the caller's car on a public street.

Tennessee law has very strict rules concerning the responsibilities of a person who leaves a private parking lot and pulls into a public street.  The law provides that the driver leaving a parking lot must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and all vehicles approaching on the roadway.  The failure to do so means that the driver is negligent as a matter of law and is legally responsible for harm caused by the error.  This Legal Guide discusses the  damages that may be recovered in Tennessee auto and truck accident cases.

If you or a loved one is injured in any type of motor vehicle accident, we would be honored if you would give us a call and allow us to help you.  We have over 30 years of experience in this type of litigation, and will have an initial consultation with you at no charge (and no obligation) whatsoever.  Call me, John Day, at 615.742.4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 to discuss your case or, if you wish, complete this Contact Form and we will promptly call you.

Blind Pedestrians Extended Protections Under Tennessee Law

Blind or visually-impaired pedestrians using a white cane or stick (or white cane or stick tipped in red) or guided by a guide dog or a dog with a blaze orange lease has the right-of-way while crossing any public street in Tennessee

Vehicles who seek such persons must bring their vehicle to a complete stop and take all reasonable precautions before moving the vehicle to avoid injury to the visually-impaired person.

Violation of this law is a Class C misdemeanor. 

John Day has represented pedestrians struck by motor vehicles  for almost 30 years.  Call 1-866-813-8787 (615-742-4880 on Middle Tennessee) for a free consultation in any type of Tennessee  personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Pedestrians Injured in Crosswalks on Nashville, Tennessee Streets and Highways

Tennessee law offers special protections to  pedestrians who are injured while crossing a Nashville street or highway within a crosswalk.  

Ordinarily, people within the crosswalk have the right-of-way, and  the operator of an automobile, truck, or other vehicle must yield the right-of-way.  Of course, a pedestrian cannot suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.  

Tennessee law also provides that whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.  This law also protects pedestrians from injury.

John Day has handled cases involving pedestrian / motor vehicle collisions for almost 30 years.  Indeed, one of John's early trials involved a pedestrian / truck collision on West End Avenue in Nashville.  Call John at 866-812-8787 (615-742-4880 in Middle Tennessee) for a free consultation about your Tennessee personal injury case.  Or, fill out this Contact Form and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Why Has Some Lawyer Written About My Car Accident on His Blog?

Why do lawyers write blog posts that discuss someone else's car wreck?

This lawyer is doing two things.  First, he is hoping that the person who was injured in the wreck  will Google the accident, find his post, and then hire him to help  with all any potential lawsuit.  This is direct marketing, pure and simple.  There is no legal ethics rule that prohibits this conduct.

Second, this attorney  is trying to put something on his blog to keep it current in the hope that it will rank higher in search engines like Google.  Google likes new content.  So, rather than write something substantive that actually will do readers some good, these lawyers write about accidents in an effort to inject the key words used in searches onto the Internet..  

In fact, some of these posts are not written by the lawyer at all.  Some lawyers hire ghost-writers to write blog posts to create "content" in an effort to make Google think that their blog or website has some substance.

If this wreck was not your fault and you need a lawyer to help you  I would suggest that  the factors you should consider are set forth our Legal Guide titled "Understanding How to Hire A Lawyer in a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case."

After you review the factors outlined in our Legal Guide, I think you will agree with me that a blog post about your wreck is certainly not a factor in your decision of who to hire as your lawyer.  Instead, view it as what it is: a marketing effort directed at you because of your wreck.

Tennessee Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Insurance Coverage

If the driver that causes a Tennessee car accident  or truck accident does not have liability  insurance, your own automobile insurance coverage may also apply in provide a source for monetary recovery to pay your medical bills and compensate you for your injuries.  This type of insurance coverage is also available (and very important) for motorcycle owners because it will provide protection for the riders in the event of a Tennessee motorcycle accident with an car or truck that does not have sufficient liability insurance.

This type of insurance coverage is called uninsured motorist coverage - it provides you protection when you are hurt by an uninsured driver. This type of insurance also protects you when the driver that causes a wreck has inadequate insurance coverage to pay for the harm caused to you. This is called "under-insured motorist coverage."

Both types of insurance  must be offered to each person who buys liability insurance in Tennessee.  Thus, if you purchased liability insurance on your vehicle,  you have uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage unless you waived your right to have it in writing. 

An experienced Tennessee car accident attorney or Tennessee truck accident attorney can examine your insurance policy and tell you whether you have this insurance coverage, the amount of the coverage, and whether any limitations in the law or the insurance policy limit your rights.  If you do not appear to have uninsured motorist coverage this attorney can also help you determine whether you waived your right to purchase the coverage in the manner required by Tennessee law. 

Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Cases in Tennessee

As a Tennessee personal injury lawyer, I receive at least one call every week from a potential personal injury client who has waiting too long to hire a lawyer to get help with filing a lawsuit.  Recently, I had calls from three people in one week who called me too late for help.

There are lots of reasons you should call a lawyer quickly after a Tennessee auto accident or other event in which the negligence of another resulted in a serious injury, but one reason for prompt action is the delay can make it impossible to hire a lawyer who can help you.  

Why do people wait to hire a lawyer?   Some people think that they can resolve the personal injury case on their own, without any legal advice.  Of course, sometimes that is true:  a lay person may be able to settle a personal injury case without the assistance of a lawyer.  For instance, car accident cases that involve only property damage, or that involve one trip to the emergency room and no other medical treatment frequently can be resolved without the help of a lawyer.

But if you call an experienced Tennessee injury lawyer and take advantage of a free consultation he or she will tell you whether you need a lawyer in your case.  At the Law Offices of John Day, P.C. we are happy to listen to the facts underlying  your legal problem and let you know if we think we can help you - all at no charge to you.

Some folks think that they can resolve their personal injury case on their own even though they would benefit from legal advice.  Insurance adjusters for the at-fault party often lead people to assume that a fair settlement will be made - and thus people think that they will wait and see what amount is offered.  In the meantime, evidence is lost,  the course of medical treatment is not consistent, and time slips by.  The at-fault party's insurance adjuster gets permission to speak to health care providers and employers, and is building a case before you know it.  Eventually, some sort of offer is made - and is usually totally inadequate.  Then, the  one-year deadline for taking legal action in Tennessee creeps up, and makes it impossible to hire a lawyer or, if you can find one, that lawyer will be forced to file suit to get the case resolved - which results in even more expense.  

So, here is the bottom line:   The law setting forth deadlines for filing personal injury cases in Tennessee is very complicated.  Generally, you will act on time if suit is filed against the responsible parties within one year of the date you were injured.  However, there are certain circumstances under which you can have less time and certain circumstances under which you can have more time.  Only when a lawyer is aware of all of the facts can he or she advise you of the actual deadline for filing a lawsuit.  Under most circumstances a lawyer will do this for you at no charge whatsoever.  Thus, I strongly recommend that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer shortly after you or a loved one is injured and seek advice about your legal rights and what deadline for taking action applies to you.

Are  you unsure what what you should look for as you attempt to hire a personal injury lawyer?  Read our legal guide, "Understanding How To Hire a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawyer."

Some final words of caution:  The one-year deadline is never applicable to slander cases - the deadline there is generally six months from the date the slanderous words are spoken.  

Second, the deadlines for taking legal action are more complicated when dealing with defective or dangerous products,  injuries that occur because of problems with buildings and other improvements to real property, injuries that occur because of negligent health care, and certain other areas.  When a injury or death arises under these conditions it is essential the legal attention be sought immediately.

Damages in Car Accident Cases in Tennessee

A person who suffers an injury in Tennessee automobile or truck accident as a result of the negligence of another person has a right to recover damages for their injuries.  As a Tennessee car accident attorney i am fortunate to have represented many people who have been injured in car and truck accidents.

Tennessee law provides that a car or truck accident  injury victim can recover damages for the following:

  • medical expenses
  • lost wages
  • pain 
  • suffering 
  • disfigurement 
  • disability
  • loss of enjoyment of life.

If the injury received in the car or truck accident results in future or permanent physical or emotional problems, additional damages may be recovered for 

  • future medical bills related to the injury
  • future lost wages or lost earning capacity 
  • pain
  • suffering
  • disfigurement
  • disability 
  • loss of enjoyment of life.

The jury evaluates each of these elements of the damage claim and makes a decision as to the fair value of the claim.  Of course, these same factors are considered in reaching a settlement of the claim.

There is no artificial limit on damages to automobile or truck injury victims if  they were injured before October 1, 2011.  For those injured on or after October 1, 2012, Governor Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly have placed an arbitrary limit on the damages that can be recovered.  Although there is no limit on the recovery of medical expenses and lost wages, there is an government-created cap of $750,000 for claims for pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.  I believe the damage cap to be unfair, and hopefully the Tennessee Supreme Court will declare the damage caps unconstitutional.

There are a couple of exceptions to the $750,000 cap.  An experienced Nashville car accident attorney will know the law of damages and be able to tell you whether you fall within any exceptions to the arbitrary cap on damages.  

How Does Liability Insurance Work in Tennessee Automobile Accident Cases?

As Tennessee automobile accident lawyers the Law Offices of John Day, P.C. deals with automobile liability insurance policies on a daily basis.

Auto liability insurance (a) provides you will a lawyer in the event you are claimed to have caused a auto accident  and (b) provides you some dollar of insurance protection in the even that you are determined to have caused the accident and someone else is injured or killed .   Conversely, if you are injured in a wreck because of the fault of another driver.  the liability insurance he or she has purchased will be the typical source of any financial recovery you can make for your medical bills, loss of income, and other damages recognized under Tennessee law.

 In Tennessee, all drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of automobile liability  insurance, specifically $25,000 per person with a cap of $50,000 for each wreck.  This is usually expressed as a "25/50" policy.

If two people are injured in a wreck, and the at-fault driver has minimum insurance policy limits, generally speaking the most the insurance company could ever have to pay on behalf of the at-fault driver is $25,000 to each person. If three people are injured in a wreck and the person at fault has minimum limits of 25/50, the insurance company generally will not have to pay more than $50,000 to all three people combined, and each person cannot recover any more than $25,000.

Many people purchase more insurance than the Tennessee statutory minimum. There are "50/100."  "100 / 300," and "250 / 500" auto liability insurance policies in Tennessee.  There are also "single limit" insurance policies, which provide a single 'amount  of coverage, regardless of the number of people injured.  Common single limit polices are issued for $100,000, $300,000, and $500,000.  We have also seen single limit insurance policies for as much as $1,000,000.

Once again, the existence of insurance coverage does not mean that the injured person can automatically recover money.  The injured person still has to prove the fault of the other driver and  the amount of damages he or she is entitled to under Tennessee law.  Only then will  the at-fault driver's insurance company will pay those damages up to the limit of insurance coverage available.  

The lawyers at the Law Offices of John Day have represented persons injured in auto and truck accidents for over three decades.  We work to gather all of the information necessary to prove the fault of the person causing the accident and document the nature of extent of the injuries and damages.  We then work with the at fault driver's insurance company to attempt to resolve the case without filing a lawsuit and, if that is not possible, will file a lawsuit to protect and advance our client's rights.

Contact us by phone at 866-812-8787 or fill out the Contact form if you would like us to discuss your potential case.

 

 

 

10 Things To Do If You Are Involved in a Tennessee Car Accident

There are hundreds of car accidents in Tennessee every day, and any case involving personal injuries may result in litigation.  Thus, it is important to take certain steps immediately to protect your rights.  

At the Law Offices of John Day, P.C., we recommend the following:

1. If you can move, determine the well-being of all others involved in the accident.  If anyone is injured, call 911 and seek help.

2. When the police officer arrives, tell him or her the truth about how the accident occurred.  Do not speculate on what happened.  Be polite to the officer.

3.  Be polite to the other driver.  Exchange insurance company contact information with the other driver.  Do not worry about sharing your insurance company contact information - doing so does not admit that the fault is your fault.

4.  Write down the other driver's name and contact information.

5.  Seek out any witnesses to the wreck and write down their contact information.

6.  If you can do so safely, take photos from several different angles of the vehicles and any gouge marks, yaw marks, or skid marks.  

7.  Seek medical attention as appropriate if you are injured or are in pain.

8.  Report the accident to your insurance company.  Make sure to write down the claim number that your insurance company gives you. 

9.  Photograph any injuries you have.

10.  Contact an experienced auto accident lawyer to gain an understanding of your rights.  Do so before giving a statement to an insurance company or before filing out insurance documents.

We would be honored if you would consult with us about your potential auto accident claim.  We do not charge for an initial consultation and will be happy to meet with you at your home or other place that is convenient for you.  Call us at 866-812-8787 or complete the Case Evaluation form at the right to set up an appointment.

You may find the following to be helpful to you:

Understanding How To Hire a Lawyer in a Personal Injury Case

Understanding Automobile Wreck Cases

 

Help! I Was In A Car Wreck and Doctors Keep Calling Me!

As Nashville automobile accident lawyers, more and more people are telling us that after they are in a wreck they are getting calls from doctors offering their services.  Most of these doctors are not medical doctors but rather chiropractors.  And, some of these chiropractors tell the accident victim that they will refer them to a lawyer to help them get their medical bills paid and make a financial recovery from the accident.

How do the chiropractors know about the accident?  They obtain accident reports and make telephone calls to the person they believe was not at fault.

I recommend that you stay away from these "services."   I believe you are much better served - both medically and legally - seeing your regular physician or a specialist he or she recommends (or the emergency room recommends) than seeing a chiropractor who calls you after a wreck.  If you do not have a regular physician, ask a friend or family member for a recommendation.

But do not just see a medical doctor, chiropractor or lawyer based on an unsolicited telephone call after a wreck.  

Why is My Past Medical History Important in My Personal Injury Lawsuit?

As Tennessee personal injury lawyers, we spend of time listening to our clients explain about injuries they received in car wrecks, truck accidents, and lots of other situations.  One frequent question we are asked is whether the insurance company defending the case will be able to explore the client's medical history.

A person's medical history is important in any case in which he or she is claiming to have suffered a physical or psychological injury as a result of someone else’s negligent or intentional act.  The medical history establishes the baseline of the person's physical or psychological well being before the injury. Tennessee law requires medical evidence to show that a negligent act caused an injury, so a medical history can establish the lack of any prior problem that our client complains was caused in a car wreck or other event.

Tennessee law provides that you may not recover damages for physical and mental suffering from prior medical problems or medical care to treat those pre-existing problems.  However, when a preexisting condition is made worse y the wrongful act of another person byou can recover damages for the worsening of the condition. Your medical history will be important to proving this claim - your lawyer will have to show what the condition was before you were injured and, with the assistance of testimony from a doctor, how the injury made that condition worse.

It is essential to the tell your lawyer the truth about your medical history.  There are various tools available to insurance companies to discover your medical history, and a failure to be completely candid will severely affect your case. 

Under-Insured Drivers

I remain amazed at people of means who do not maintain sufficient liability insurance on their vehicles and homes.

The most frequent problem we see is with middle-income people who are driving around with "25 / 50" or "50 / 100" liability insurance policies on their cars.  A "25 / 50" policy is one which provides a negligent driver with insurance protection of $25,000 for any one person they hurt or kill in an accident, up to a total of $50,000 for all persons hurt or killed in an accident.  A "50/100" policy, provides a negligent driver with up to  $50,000 worth of insurance protection for any one person they hurt or kill in an accident, up to a total of $100,000 for all persons hurt or killed.

If there is insufficient insurance to pay the damages caused, the driver is personally responsible for the balance of the damages.  Thus, if a negligent driver with a "25 / 50" liability insurance policy on his car causes injuries to another person worth $50,000, the negligent driver is responsible for the $25,000 his insurance company does not pay.

So why are people under-insured? Greed, ignorance or both.  Some people simply accept the amount of insurance recommended by their insurance agent.  This approach fails to take into account that the agent may be competing on price, not product, and by offering an inferior product (lower limits) he or she can offer a lower price.  Like many things in life, the lower priced product is often not the best choice.

Other people think that even though they have a good income they have relatively little in the way of assets or net worth, and thus it makes no sense to buy more insurance coverage to protect themselves.  This approach is wrong for two reasons.  Number one, it assumes that the person you have injured will not force you into bankruptcy to get the assets you do have.  Number two, it reflects a very self-centered attitude, one which basically says "I am not worried about the harm I caused to another person.  I will by just enough insurance to protect my assets and let the injured person bear the financial brunt of my mistake."  This is wrong.

Still others think that they will never be involved in an accident and thus spending money on insurance is a waste of money.  

I understand why a person making minimum wage or even twice that amount will have difficult purchasing more liability insurance than the state required minimum ($25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident).   But quite frankly I have little sympathy for those who make $75,000 per year or more and are driving around with insurance policies that provide less than $100,000 person, $300,000 per accident in insurance coverage.  And those who make $100,000 or more per year in family income should have more coverage.  The extra insurance coverage is very inexpensive, and it just makes sense to have it, not only to protect your own assets, but to be there to help the person you hurt.

I encourage you to look at your liability insurance package and make sure you understand how much coverage you actually have.  Then, ask your agent how much it would cost you to increase that coverage to the next level.  My guess is that you will be surprised at how little it will cost.  As you do so, remember that one night in the ICU at Vanderbilt costs over $10,000 and the helicopter ride there can exceed that amount if the flight originates 30 miles or more away.  The fact of the matter is that $50,000 doesn't go very far in a trauma unit.

 

Drunk Driving Arrests Increase in Tennessee

The good news is that the overall crime rate in Tennessee has decreased. The bad news is that the report reveals that a total of 26,340 people were arrested for DUI in 2011, an increase from the 24,154 arrests made in 2010.
 

Here is some more data about those arrested from driving under the influence in Tennessee in 2011:

  • 19,845 of those arrested were male and 6495 were female
  • 22, 415 of arrestees were White and 3201 were African American
  • the age group with the most arrests was age 25-34 (both males and females)

Driving under the influence takes the lives of hundreds of people every year and injures many more. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, be sure to limit your alcohol consumption to an amount that will not impact your ability to drive safely.

Holding a Negligent Car Driver Responsible For Payments in Excess of the Insurance Limits

The guy that hit me in my Lebanon, Tennessee car accident has limited insurance but I know he has assets. Can I get insurance money and then go after him individually for the difference?

In Tennessee most insurance companies will continue to defend their insured driver even if they have offered insurance policy limits but the injured party refuses to accept them because the value of the case is far more than the insurance available.

So, ordinarily you will have to determine whether you want or need the insurance money (if it is offered to you) or if you are willing to press for more money from the insured at-fault driver individually and thus wait to collect the insurance money.

Whether it makes sense to seek additional money from the insured depends on various factors. Our office recently advised a client to go after the individual assets of a man who caused a wreck. We did an investigation that revealed that the man had several rental properties that had equity in them and that after the wreck the man added his wife's name to the properties in an effort to protect them from a lawsuit by us. He also rebuffed our initial efforts to discover his financial information. We thought it was important to hold him responsible for the harm he caused, and thus pressed forward with the lawsuit even though his insurance company was willing to pay the liability insurance policy limits. After lots of effort, we persuaded the at-fault driver to pay $100,000 over and above the insurance policy limits. This payment not only benefited our client but also made it possible for the man we sued to avoid bankruptcy - which is probably  what would have happened to him if we had a trial and obtained the judgment against him that our client was entitled to receive.

We did the same thing to an underinsured trucking company several years ago. The company only had $1,000,000 in insurance, and we refused to settle the case unless the company paid additional money out of its own account.

Unfortunately, we are not always able to get this type of wonderful result for our clients. Some of the at-fault drivers we sue or file claims against simply have no ability to pay any money out of their pockets and many of our clients do not want to force another person into bankruptcy.   But, when circumstances make it appropriate to do so, we will recommend to our clients that they refuse to settle for insurance policy limits and press the wrongdoer (either an individual or a company) for additional monies.

The possibility of personal contribution from the at-fault driver is yet another reason you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you through the litigation process.

Injuries and Deaths of Tennessee Bicyclists

 

This is the season when our streets and highways begin to be filled with bicycles.

Bicycles are treated like vehicles on our roadways and, in general, those operating bicycles have the same duties and responsibilities as those driving cars and trucks.

By the same token, bicyclists enjoy the same rights as other drivers.  Thus, all drivers have a duty to exercise a proper lookout for bicyclists and to operate with due care when in the vicinity of a bicyclist.  

When passing a bicyclist, leaves lots of room.  When making a right turn, look over your right shoulder to determine whether a bicyclist is approaching from your rear and make sure you give an appropriate signal.

If you have been injured while riding a bicycle because of the conduct of the driver of a car or truck, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you.

Suing Local Governments in Car Accident Cases

I was in a car accident caused a guy driving a dump truck for Springfield (Robertson County), Tennessee public works department.  Can I sue the city and recover damages for the injuries I received?

Yes.  In Tennessee, local governments cannot be sued under many circumstances but they can be sued if an employee driving a vehicle on the business of the city (or county) causes an accident and there is property damage or personal injury as a result.

However, the damages in such a lawsuit are limited to no more than $300,000 for any one person injured or killed in the accident and no more than $700,000 total if multiple people are injured or killed.  Property damage claims are limited to $100,000.

Any such lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of the accident.  Failure to file a lawsuit on time will result in a loss of your rights.

 

What happens if I am partially at fault for the injuries I received in a car accident?

I was in a car accident in Dickson, Dickson County, Tennessee.   A witness said the accident is partially my fault and partially the fault of the other driver.   What happens if I am determined to be partially at fault?

Under Tennessee law, if a person who is injured negligently contributed to his or her own injuries the damages that can be recovered are reduced proportionately. This principle is part of our "comparative fault" law.   The law "compares" the negligent conduct of each person or entity that contributes to cause an accident.

This is best explained by an example. Assume that Sally was hurt in an automobile accident that occurred at an intersection when Bill ran a red light and his vehicle hit the side of her car. Assume that the the case is not settled and a jury later determines that Bill is mostly at fault, but that Sally is also at fault because she was speeding. The judge will tell the jury to assign a percentage of fault to Bill and Sally, and the jury determines that the accident was 90% Bill's fault and 10% Sally's fault. (The fault percentages must always total 100%). Also assume that the jury determines that Sally's total damages (medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, etc.) entitle her to compensation in the amount of $100,000. 

Under these facts, Sally would be able recover only $90,000 from Bill, because her 10% fault would reduce the damages she could recover from Bill by 10% ($10,000). 

If Sally had been found 20% at fault, her damages would have been reduced by $20,000. Sally's recoverable  damages would continue to be reduced as her percentage of fault increases. If Sally's fault is determined to be 50%, under Tennessee law she would lose her right to any recovery from Bill.

So, Tennessee's comparative fault system allocates financial responsibility for accidents. A person who is free from fault recovers 100% of his or her losses (assuming that the person who caused the accident has the ability to pay for the harm caused) and recovers a lower percentage of his or her damages if he or she negligently contributed to cause the injuries. 

Deaths from Tennessee Car and Truck Accidents Increase in 2012

Deaths from car and truck accidents in Tennessee have increased in the first three months of 2012, an unusual result given the general decline in accidents, injuries and deaths in the past few years.

238 people lost their lives on Tennessee highways in the first three months of 2012.  In the same period last year, only 186 deaths were reported.  The 52 additional deaths represents about a 30 percent increase.

The increase in the number of deaths is largely from automobile accidents.  Death rates for accidents involving trucks are down slightly.  Pedestrian deaths are also down from the same period in 2011. 

What is causing the increase?  It certainly cannot be weather-related - we have had the mildest winter I can remember.  And one would think that high gasoline prices would have reduced the amount of time people are spending on the road, thus decreasing the risk of an accident.

I have no explanation for what is happening, and hopefully the last three months are just an unfortunate circumstance and not the beginning of some sort of trend.  A combination of safer autos, safer roads, seat belt usage, and enforcement of drunk driving laws has increased highway safety over the last thirty years and we need to get back to a downward-trend of accidents, injuries and deaths.

 

What Happens If I Miss Physical Therapy Appointments After My Car Wreck?

I got hurt in an accident and my doctor said I should go to physical therapy. The therapist is 20 miles away and it is very inconvenient to go to therapy.  Plus, it doesn’t seem to do any good. Will it hurt my case if I just stop going?

First, let me suggest you set the thoughts about your legal case aside for a moment. Your doctor prescribed physical therapy because he or she thought it would help you. It might not. But it might. And the progress you see might be small. But you still need to go to physical therapy because you want to do what you can to reach a full recovery.

Going to physical therapy may not help your case, but not going as the doctor asked you to do could hurt your case. Insurance adjusters and jurors may conclude that you may not have been having the problems you say you were having (or are having) if you failed to follow your doctor’s advice. If you have to go before a jury in your case the jury will be told that it is your responsibility to minimize your damages.

So, follow your doctor’s orders because you want to do what you can to get better – and because you don’t want to hurt your case by not following those orders.

Dividing Up Limited Insurance in Automobile Accident Cases

I was in a car wreck. My wife was also hurt in the wreck, as was a gentleman (Smith) in another car. The guy that caused the wreck only has $100,000 in liability insurance and he has no other assets. How will the $100,000 be divided?

First, the $100,000 will be paid only if all of the claims equal or exceed a total value of $100,000. Those who are injured in a wreck are not entitled to all of the insurance the at-fault driver has - they are only entitled to the amount demonstrated to be the value of their case. If the amount of the claim or claims is less than the amount of insurance, the insurance company gets to keep the difference. If the amount of the claims exceed the amount of the insurance, the insurance company need only pay the amount of the insurance and the injured persons have to pursue the excess funds from the individual who caused the wreck.

Let's assume that your claim is worth $50,000, your wife's claim is worth $50,000, and Smith's claim is worth $100,000. Under these assumed facts, you would get $25,000, your wife would get $25,000, and Smith would get $50,000. In other words, each of would get a pro rata share of the total.

You can see that this can get a little tricky because people can disagree about the value of each other's claims. Experienced lawyers will work this out through negotiation, mediation or even arbitration. Rarely is a trial required under these circumstances.

So, under these circumstances, it is still important to be able to prove the value of your claim so that you can get your fair share of the monies available.  The larger the claim, the bigger share of the insurance policy you will be entitled to receive.

Wrong - Way Crashes on Interstate Highways

In 2010 over 100 wrecks occurred on Tennessee interstates because a driver was operating down the wrong side of the roadway. 

There are several reasons this can occur.  First, the driver of the vehicle going down the interstate the wrong way can be intoxicated by alcohol or operating under the influence of another drug. Liability may be imposed on the driver and, if the excessive consumption of alcohol contributed to the problem, those who illegally served an obviously intoxicated person may bear some responsibility.

Second, the signage at the entry point of interstate can be absent or misleading.  It is not uncommon for people in road construction areas to be lead astray by poor signage or signs that are just plain wrong.  Under these circumstances, those involved in the road construction project may have some responsibility for what occurred.

Third, the wrong-way driver may have been distracted for some other reason.

In each of these circumstances, it is important to promptly do an investigation to determine what caused the at-fault driver to end up on the wrong side of the highway and document the results of that investigation.

 

Can I Borrow Money From My Tennessee Car Accident Attorney?

I have a car accident case but am in desperate need of money right now.   Can I borrow money from  my attorney and pay her back out of the settlement I know I am going to receive?

It is not uncommon for people who have been injured to have financial difficulties, but in Tennessee it is unethical for an attorney to loan you money while he or she is representing you in a case.   This is true even if the attorney does not  charge interest.  (It is appropriate for the attorney to advance money for case-related expenses to help prepare your case.)

Rumor has it that some attorneys will promise potential clients that they will help them with living expenses and that some attorneys actually do it.    However, this is  wrong, and an attorney who promises to do so or actually does so should be reported to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility at 800.486.5714.    Loaning or giving money to clients or potential clients can result in discipline against the attorney, including the loss of his or her law license.

There are certain things that an experienced Tennessee automobile accident attorney can ethically do to help you when you are experiencing financial difficulties.  For instance, some health care providers will stop bill collection efforts if you will promise (in writing) that they will get paid out of any settlement.  

Deaths from Tennessee Car and Truck Accidents Decline

Tennessee has seen a decline in the number of deaths from car and truck accidents.

Recently released statistics reveal that the number of people killed on Tennessee roads decreased from 1032 in 2010 to 946 in 2011, a drop of almost 9%.

Traffic fatalities were down in most counties in Middle Tennessee.  In fact, the only counties that saw in an increase in the number of deaths in traffic accidents were Williamson County (up 3 from 6  deaths to 9), Wilson County (up 6 deaths from 15 to 21), Rutherford County (an increase in one fatality from 20 to 21), Houston County (a significance increase - from 1 to 3); and Coffee County (deaths doubled from 8 to 16).  Lawrence County reported the biggest increase in traffic deaths in terms of raw numbers, from 4 to 14.   Giles County County increased from 7 deaths to 10 and Maury County increased from 10 to 14 fatalities. 

One reason for the decline in deaths may be a decrease in the number of miles given, a combination of a weak economy and lots of unemployment coupled with relatively high gas prices. Statistics indicating the number of miles driven in 2011 will not be available until a later date.

In any event, we can and should enjoy the good news:  traffic deaths in Tennessee are down and thus the tragedy that comes from each death has been avoided.

Where Must A Car Accident Lawsuit Be Filed?

I live in Knoxville and I was in a car wreck in Nashville.  The driver of the other car lives in Murfreesboro.  If my case doesn't get settled can I file a lawsuit in Knoxville? 

No.  Under a new Tennessee law that was effective for all lawsuits arising from injuries arising on or after October 1, 2011, this type of case must be filed where the wreck occurred or where the individual defendant resides.  

Therefore, if you must file a lawsuit, you will have to file it in Nashville or in Rutherford County. 

An experienced automobile accident attorney can tell you which place you should file suit if it becomes necessary. 

Jury Trials in Nashville, Tennessee in 2011

The Clerk of the Circuit Courts for Davidson County, Tennessee has released the following statistics for jury trials for 2011:

  • There were 10 health care liability (medical malpractice) jury trials.  The health care providers won six of those cases, the patient won two, and the other two cases resulted in a hung jury.
  • There were 36 auto liability cases tried, 22 of those to a jury.  The plaintiff won 25 of those cases.  Note, however, that the word "won" means that the plaintiff recovered some amount of money - not that the amount beat the defendant's last offer or was otherwise a reasonable amount.
  • There were only two jury trials in December, 2011 one of which was a health care liability case (defense verdict) and one of which was an auto case (case dismissed by judge).

Despite what one reads in the papers or hears on the news, there are relatively few jury trials.  This number has steadily decreased across the entire state for many years.

14 Things to Do After A Car Accident

Here is a list of 14 things you can do after a car accident:

1. Do your best to remain calm.

2. Assess the scene. Do not get out of your car if it is not safe to do so.

3. Check for injuries, both of yourself and others, rendering aid to others where necessary and appropriate.   

4. Call the police. Tell them where you are, what happened and if there are injuries. 

5. Do not discuss what occurred without anyone but the investigating police officer.

6. If you are able, exchange information with the other drivers. Get the name, address, insurer's name and policy number for all of the drivers involved.

7. Get names and phone numbers of witnesses.

8. Take photos/video of the scene including the damage to all cars. Cell phone photos will work to document initial damage.

9.. If the police respond, find out where to get a copy of the police report for your claim. If the police do not come to the scene, ask police dispatch where you can file an incident report.

10.  Tell the police officer the truth.  Do not give opinions about what you think happened, tell the officer only what you observed and heard.  Be polite and cooperative with the officer.

11.  Promptly seek medical attention.  Tell the health care providers the truth.   Carefully explain your symptoms. Do not magnify or ignore any problem you are having.

12.  If you are told by the emergency room to follow-up with your family doctor, do so.  Do not delay in seeking additional medical treatment in the hope that you will be alright.  

13.  Carefully explain to your subsequent health care provider the medical problems you are having as a result of the injuries.  Once again, do not magnify or ignore any injury.

14.  If the accident was not your fault and you were injured, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn your rights.  At the Law Offices of John Day, P.C., we recommend that you do this promptly, before giving a statement to any insurance company.  At our firm, initial consultations are free.

How Can I Prove What Happened in My Wife's Accident?

My wife was killed in an automobile wreck.  She was alone in the car.  The other driver says the wreck was her fault, but I don't believe it.  How can I prove what happened?

You need the help of an experienced automobile wreck attorney to lead an investigation into what happened.

Tennessee law provides that, because your wife is not able to testify about what happened, she is presumed to have been exercising due care at the time of the wreck.  However, other testimony and evidence can make that presumption disappear. 

An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to investigate car wrecks and, as appropriate, work with others to determine how the wreck occurred.  The police report may contain the names of witnesses to the wreck - these people need to be located and interviewed.  People who live and work in the area may have observed the wreck but not have their names appear on the report.  Physical evidence, such as skid marks, yaw marks, and gouge marks may be present on the roadway.  The damage to the vehicles often yields information about how the wreck occurred, and many newer vehicles contain data recorders that can provide helpful information.

The key is to gather that data early.  Physical evidence can disappear, and memories fade.  You are encouraged to act quickly to secure the services of an experienced automobile wreck lawyer.

Parent's Right to Damages For Injury to Child in Automobile Crash

My son was seriously injured in a auto accident.  What rights do I have as his parent  in a lawsuit against the person who caused the wreck? 

You have the right to recover medical expenses that you paid or were paid by your insurance company.  (You almost certainly have to repay your health insurance company out of the settlement or judgment.)  You can also recover damages for loss of services of your child.

Under Tennessee law, you cannot recover damages loss of the relationship between you and your child because of the injuries or for your emotional distress at seeing your child deal with his injuries.  

However, you may be able to recover damages for emotional distress if you saw or heard the wreck your son or came up on the scene of the event shortly after the dog attack occurred.    An experienced personal injury lawyer can tell you whether you qualify for recovery of this type of damages - they are dependent of the details of your case and your emotional injuries, if any. 

Why Is My Medical History Important in a Tennessee Personal Injury Claim?

I am in a lawsuit over a car accident that wasn't my fault.  The insurance company wants to see my old medical records.  What does my past medical treatment have to do with my  car wreck case involving a broken hip? 

Answer: Your medical history is important in any case in which you are claiming to have suffered a physical or psychological injury as a result of someone else’s negligent or intentional act. Your medical history establishes the baseline of your physical or psychological well being before the injury. You can only recover in the lawsuit for the injury caused by the act or omission of the responsible person. You may not recover damages for physical and mental suffering or medical care necessitated by preexisting conditions. When a preexisting condition is made worse you can recover damages for the worsening of the condition. Your medical history will be important to proving this claim. 

In your particular case, the insurance company will be looking to see if you had a prior hip problem or other medical problem that affected your overall well-being or your able to work or enjoy recreational activities.  

The mere fact you were in a wreck doesn't mean that the insurance company has an automatic right to look at all of your medical records since the date you were born.  An experienced Tennessee car accident lawyer can often limit the scope of the record review by the at-fault driver's insurance company.

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What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

 

If the driver that causes a Tennessee car accident  or truck accident does not have liability  insurance, your own automobile insurance coverage may also apply in provide a source for monetary recovery to pay your medical bills and compensate you for your injuries. This type of insurance coverage is called uninsured motorist coverage - it provides you protection when you are hurt by an uninsured driver. Subject to certain limitations, you may recover damages under your own uninsured motorist policy if the other driver is proven to be uninsured.

Uninsured motorist coverage must be offered to each person who buys liability insurance in Tennessee.  Thus, if you purchased liability insurance on your vehicle,  you have uninsured motorist coverage unless you waived your right to have it in writing. 

An experienced Tennessee car accident attorney or Tennessee truck accident attorney can examine your insurance policy and tell you whether you have this insurance coverage, the amount of the coverage, and whether any limitations in the law or the insurance policy limit your rights.  If you do not appear to have uninsured motorist coverage this attorney can also help you determine whether you waived your right to purchase the coverage in the manner required by Tennessee law.

 

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Rights of Saleswoman in Car Accident During Work

I  am a saleswoman for a office products company.  I was driving from one customer's place of business to see another customer when  I was in car wreck.    The other driver ran into me at 45 miles per hour as I was stopped in traffic.  My car was totaled and I spent three days in the hospital.  What are my rights?

You have two potential claims.  First, you have a worker's compensation claim because you were injured in the course of employment (assuming your employer has five or more employees).  Under Tennessee worker's compensation law, you have a right to have your medical bills paid and to receive a portion of your wages paid while you are unable to work.  If you have a permanent impairment as a result of your injuries you are entitled to a payment for the extent of disability caused by that impairment.

Second, you have a claim against the driver of the other car.  This is called a "tort" claim.

Since your injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization, you almost certainly could benefit from the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.    This lawyer will be able to help you receive the benefits you are entitled to receive under the worker's compensation law and under tort law.

To preserve your worker's compensation claim rights be sure that your employer has notice that you were in the car wreck.  It is best to give notice in writing.   If the tort claim is not settled, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of the wreck or your rights with be lost.  The time period for filing a worker's compensation claim is dependent on your medical treatment - an experienced Tennessee worker's compensation  lawyer can advise you of when you must act to protect your rights after he or she has been advised of your treatment course. 

You need to know that your employer's worker's compensation insurer will have a right to recover the money it pays in worker's compensation benefits from any monies you receive in your auto accident case.  Once again, an experienced Tennessee auto accident lawyer can explain this to you.

 

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What You Should Do (And Not Do) After a Car Accident

Here is a list of things you should do (or should not do) after a automobile or truck accident:

1)  You should call the police.  Ignore any request by the other driver to "let the insurance companies handle it" or "keep the police out of it - I can't afford a ticket."

2)  Tell the police officer(s) the truth about what occurred.  Do not guess or try to fill in facts.

3)  Be careful what you say to the other driver.  Be polite, but not chatty.

4)  If you have a camera in your car, photograph the accident scene and damage to both vehicles (or as soon as practically possible).  Include photos of any skidmarks, yaw marks, gouge marks, etc.  

5)  If you believe your are injured, obtain medical treatment as soon as possible.

6)  Contact your insurance company immediately to report the accident.

7)  DO NOT talk with anyone who calls you from the other driver's insurance company.

8)  Do not panic if the police report is inaccurate as to how the accident occurred.  The police report is not admissible in evidence in Tennessee.  However, if the police report is inaccurate, it is important that you talk with a lawyer quickly. 

9)  Employ an attorney promptly if you received any injuries in the accident.

10) Keep a list of the doctors and other health care providers you have seen.

11)  Do not write about your accident or medical treatment on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media.

 

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John Day represents personal injury victims and families of wrongful death victims.  He is board-certified as a civil trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and, in fact, served as President of the organization. He is an elected member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.  His book, "Day on Torts:   Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law," is used by judges and lawyers across Tennessee to further their understanding of personal injury and wrongful death law in Tennessee.  In 2009, Best Lawyers named John "Best Personal Injury Lawyer" for Nashville; he was the first recipient of that award. Best Lawyers also  named John as "Best Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Nashville" for 2010.   John does not charge for an initial consultation and accepts personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingent  fee basis.  You can reach him by telephone at 615.742.4880 or by email by clicking here.

 

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Can I Bring A Wrongful Death Lawsuit on Behalf of My Deceased Brother?

 My 22 year-old brother died in a car accident in Clarksville, Tennessee after being hit by a drunk driver.  Do I have a right to sue for his death?

 
Here is the answer under Tennessee wrongful death law:
 
If your brother was married his wife would have the primary right to bring suit for her husband's wrongful death.
 
If your brother was not married but had one or more children, the child or children would have the primary right to bring suit.  Obviously, any child would be a minor and an adult would have to bring suit on behalf of the child or children.  That adult could be you, with court permission.
 
If your brother left no wife and no children, your parents (or either of them) would have the right to file suit.
 
If your brother left no spouse, no children, and was pre-deceased by his parents, his siblings (including you) would have the right to file a lawsuit.
 
Finally, even if your brother had a spouse, one or more children, and his parents were still alive you might be able to file suit if you were named the executor of his estate in his wife.
 
An experienced Tennessee wrongful death lawyer can help guide you through this process.

The Lawyer I Talked To Has No Support Staff!

I interviewed a personal injury lawyer about my truck wreck case the other day.  I met with him in his office and it looked like he worked all alone - no secretary, no paralegal, no other lawyers.  Is that something I should be concerned about? 

 

Concerned?  I don't know that I would go that far.  I do think that the absence of a support staff is a factor that you should consider in determining who you want to be your lawyer.

Lawsuits of any size are a team effort, and each person in the office plays an important role in helping preparing the case and maximizing the recovery for the client. Thus, I believe you should look at the other lawyers and staff in the office and determine whether they can work as a team to help you with your case.

For instance, in our larger cases we almost always have two or more lawyers working on every case. Why? Assigning two or more lawyers to every case means that if one lawyer is busy in trial or is out-of-state taking depositions in other cases work can still be done on your case.

We also employ others to help the lawyers pursue personal injury and wrongful death cases.  We have a paralegal assigned to each case.  We have a full-time medical records coordinates who orders and organizes medical records and billing.  We have a full-time nurse to help with medical issues.  And, we have an in-house accountant to help us manage the financial aspects of the case.

In conclusion, I believe that you should hire a law firm that has what a football coach would call “depth.”   While it is possible for one person to do all of the things that our team does for any given client, we believe that employing high-quality personnel improves the service our clients have a right to expect.

 

Will My Insurance Company Help Me Settle My Car Wreck Case?

I was involved in a car accident in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It was not my fault.  Will my insurance company help me settle my personal injury claim against the at-fault driver? 

No.  In fact, you may actually find yourself in an adversary position with your insurance company.

How can that happen?  If the driver that caused the wreck does not have sufficient liability insurance to pay you what you deserve for your personal injury claim, you may have to make a claim for uninsured or under-insured motorist insurance benefits.  

In Tennessee, the at-fault driver's  insurance company has no obligation to tell you how much insurance coverage is in pl ace.  Thus, it is very difficult to determine whether, at the end of the day, whether you will have to make a claim against your own insurance company.  If you must do so, your insurance company has a financial interest in the outcome of your case and thus will try to reduce the amount of money it has to pay to resolve your case.

 

 

Will My Davidson County, Tennessee Car Accident Case Be Settled or Tried?

I was involved in a car wreck in Davidson County, Tennessee.  I am thinking about filing a lawsuit, but really don't want to go to trial.  Will my case be settled or tried?

Well, if you have a valid case, you have a great deal of whether the case is settled or tried.  Insurance companies usually make an offer of some amount in every case with merit.   The issue is whether you will be offered a fair amount given your injuries and losses.  You can always accept less than a fair amount, but sometimes you have to go to trial before you can get the justice you deserve.

It is true that less than 10% of all personal injury and wrongful death cases in which a jury trial is sought result in an actual trial - in Davidson County or elsewhere in Tennessee.  But it is difficult to say whether any particular will or should be tried.

An experienced car accident lawyer can guide you through the litigation process.  Our firm offers free consultation in all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases and, in the event we accept representation of you,  we will represent you on a no recovery, no fee basis.

 

What's Wrong With Texting and Driving?

I don't see the big deal about texting and driving.  I do it all the time and have not been in a car wreck.

Then you have been lucky.  Not only is texting while driving illegal, but it greatly increases your risk of being involved in a car crash.

Studies report that reports that distracted driving is the No. 1 killer of American teens. Sixteen percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver. Additionally, 82 percent of young adult drivers (16-24) have admitted to reading a standard text message while driving, according to a national survey conducted by the Ad Council.

So, do not assume that your luck will continue.  

 

Car Hits Horse. Is There A Lawsuit?

I was driving on a country road late a night.  I came around a sharp curve at a reasonable speed and there was a black horse standing in the middle of the road.  I swerved to miss it, but hit it and then hit a rock wall on the side of the road.  My car was totaled and I was injured.  The man that owned the horse lived on the adjoining property.  Can I sue him for my injuries?  That horse should not have been on the road.

 You can sue him, but you will have to prove that he was negligent in controlling the horse.  Under the law  of Tennessee the horse must be fenced in but if there was a fence the landowner will claim that the fence was adequate and you have to prove the landowner was negligent.   

It will be important to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to investigate this matter.  It will be important to document the condition of  any fence and to learn how the horse was able to escape.  It will also be important to learn with the horse or other farm animals roamed off the property in the past. 

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What Happens If There Are Multiple Victims and Limited Insurance Coverage?

I was in a a bad car accident involving a car and a truck.  Two people were hurt, and one person was killed.  The total liability insurance available is a single limit policy of  $300,000  and the at-fault driver does not have any assets.  The insurance company has offered the group of us $300,000. How will the money be divided?

Hopefully, the money will be divided by agreement without the need for litigation.  Those negotiating the case should be driven by what would happen if no agreement was reached.  In other words, people should negotiate with the idea of how a court would divide the money if there was a trial.

A court would divide the $300,000 on a pro rata basis depending on the value of the claim.   So, if all three claims had a total value of $3,000,000, each claimant would receive 10 cents on the dollar of his or her claim.  For example, if one claim was worth $500,000, that claimant would only receive $50,000  of the total monies available.

So, you can see why I said that the parties must negotiate with this in mind.  At the end of the day, no one will receive a just amount under these circumstances.  But the amount of injustice suffered by each party will be equal, that is, each party will get the same percentage reduction.

So, the controversy in settling these cases is determining the value of each case (which is frequently true) compounded by the knowledge that every party will receive an unjust amount.

I hasten to add that the situation gets more complicated if the insurance policy is a split limit policy such as a $50,000 / $100,000 policy.

My work as a car accident attorney and truck accident lawyer has lead to my involvement in many cases where multiple claimants were seeking recoveries from limited funds.  We offer free consultation in all personal injury and wrongful death cases.

 

A Lawyer Wrote in His Blog About My Car Accident!

I was in a car accident on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro a few weeks ago.  I was in the hospital for a few days and when I got home I had to miss several weeks of work.  I was playing around on the Internet to see if there was anything on there about my wreck (traffic was messed up for two hours) and I discovered a lawyer had written about my wreck.  My name wasn't used but all of the other details were there.  Why is he doing that?

This lawyer is doing two things.  First, he is hoping that you will Google your accident, find his post, and then hire him to help you (or the other driver) with all any potential lawsuit.

Second, this attorney  is trying to put something on his blog to keep it current in the hope that it will rank higher in search engines like Google.  Google likes new content.  So, rather than write something substantive that actually will do readers some good, these lawyers write about accidents.  In fact, some of these posts are not written by the lawyer at all.  Some lawyers hire ghost-writers to write blog posts to create "content" and make Google think that their blog has some substance.

If this wreck was not your fault and you need a lawyer to help you should you hire such a lawyer?   I would suggest that  the factors you should consider are set forth our Legal Guide titled "Understanding How to Hire A Lawyer in a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case."

After you review the factors outlined in our Legal Guide, I think you will agree with me that a blog post about your wreck is certainly not a factor in your decision of who to hire as your lawyer.

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I Was Hit By a Mail Truck! Can I File A Lawsuit?

 I was in an automobile wreck with a truck driven by a mail truck.  The wreck happened on the interstate in Robertson County, Tennessee.   Can I sue the driver and the Post Office for my injuries?

You can sue the Post Office, but there is a special process that must be followed.  The Post Office can only be sued in federal court after the failure of a special claims process.  

The law that gives you the right to sue the Post Office is the Federal Tort Claims Act.  The claim must be filed within two years of the date of the accident.  A special claim form must be used to file the case with Post Office.  If Post Office rejects the claim or does not act on it within six months you will have to file suit in federal court.

However, I hasten to add that just because the truck signage led you to believe that it was a Post Office truck that hit you it may well be that the truck was operated by a private company.  The Post Office hires private trucking companies to carry mail between cities.  If so, different rules apply.  For instance, because the wreck occurred in Tennessee if a private trucking company is involved suit must be filed within one year of the date of the wreck. 

It is suggested that you seek the advice of an experienced lawyer to guide you through this process.

Best Personal Injury Attorney For My Car Wreck Case

I was hurt in a car wreck and I need a personal injury lawyer.  How do I figure out which lawyer to hire?

 

If you look around it seems like there are thousands of lawyers who say that they handle personal injury and wrongful death cases. In Tennessee and many other states, any lawyer can say that they do personal injury and wrongful death litigation, and it is left to the consumer to figure out what to look for in determining which lawyer to hire for your case.

We have created a Legal Guide that will help you conduct the right research and ask the right questions so that you can hire the best lawyer for your case.

When you look at this Legal Guide, you will probably be a little intimidated.  It is rather long, and it suggests that you look at lots of different factors in determining who to hire as your lawyer.

We believe the extra effort is worth it.  Hiring a lawyer is an important decision.  The right lawyer can help your case, and the wrong lawyer can hurt your case.

You need to know what lawyers know:  Only a relatively small percentage of lawyers routinely handle personal injury cases, and a much smaller number of lawyers have the ability and experience to handle a serious case.  This Legal Guide will help you identify the factors that lawyers use to when they want to hire a personal injury or wrongful death attorney.

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Car Accident - Other Driver Smoking Pot

My car was broadsided when another driver ran a red light.  He reeked of pot, and the cops gave him a ticket for operating under the influence.  I thought you could only get a ticket for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol? 

Marijuana affects one's ability to operate a vehicle.  Recently published research indicates that the when one is using pot that overall odds of a crash are 2.66 times higher than for those who were not using it.

Tennessee Code Annotated Section 55-10-401(a)(1) provides that

It is unlawful for any person to drive or to be in physical control of any automobile or other motor driven vehicle on any of the public roads and highways of the state, or on any streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park or any apartment house complex, or any other premises that is generally frequented by the public at large, while under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system or combination thereof that impairs the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of himself which he would otherwise posses.

Thus, those who choose to use pot and drive can be charged with operating under the influence just like an alcohol user.

Car Accident - Why No Ticket?

I was in a car accident in Clarksville, Tennessee.  The guy that hit me ran a red light but the police officer did not give him a ticket.  Three people told the officer that the guy ran the light!  What's going on? 

Probably nothing is going on other than the officer giving the driver a break.  It is not uncommon for police officers not to give tickets in this type of situation.

The failure of the officer to give a ticket will not affect your rights to bring a claim against the driver.   In fact,  if he received a ticket and paid it you would not be able to introduce that fact as evidence at a personal injury trial.

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Can I Sue the Bar that Served the Drunk Driver?

I was hit by a drunk driver and was seriously hurt.  The police officer told me the guy tested .20 - over twice the legal limit.  I found out that the guy spent all afternoon in a local bar and was on his way to another bar when he hit me.  Can I sue the bar where he got drunk? 

Perhaps.  Tennessee law permits you to sue a bar that over-served a drunk driver if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they served alcoholic beverages to a visibly  intoxicated person.

If your information is correct and the drunk was only served at one bar, you must then be able to demonstrate that he was visibly intoxicated and therefore the bar should have stopped serving him.  You also must be able to demonstrate that the driver's drunken condition contributed to cause the wreck.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you investigate this matter and determine whether a claim can be successfully asserted.

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Injured By A Taxi In Nashville

I was driving in Nashville and was broad-sided by a taxi that ran a red light. I was hospitalized for four days and am not yet back to work.   What are my rights?

You have a personal injury claim.  Our office has published this Legal Guide to answer your questions on the law of automobile accidents in Tennessee.  This Legal Guide will help you understand the damages you may be entitled to receive.

The problem you will face is that many taxis are owned by the individual driver and have very limited insurance coverage.  If that is true in your case, you will have to rely on uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage to recover damages.

 

Does Tennessee Have Limits On Damages In Car Accident Cases?

Does Tennessee have limits on the amount of damages a jury can award in a car wreck case?

Only for car wrecks that occur on or after October 1, 2011.  For Tennessee car wrecks that occur before that date, there is no arbitrary limit on damages that can be awarded.

For Tennessee car accidents that occur on or after October 1, 2011, damages for pain, suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of consortium are limited to $750,000 in almost every type of case.  In certain types of cases involving catastrophic damages,  the damage cap is increased to $1,000,000.  There is no cap on damages if the person who caused the wreck was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

An experienced personal injury attorney can tell you if your case falls within the "catastrophic" category.

What Deadline Applies in Tennessee To Filing Lawsuits For Injuries to Children?

My son (age 8) was hurt in a car wreck.  How much time to I have to bring a lawsuit against the driver responsible for the wreck?

Under the law in Tennessee, there are time limits on which any person can bring a lawsuit against another. The general rule is that a child has until one year after his or her eighteenth birthday to bring a lawsuit to recover for a personal injury. Some people argue, however, that a parent’s claim for medical expenses incurred on behalf of the child must be filed by the parent within one year of the incident causing the injury, and thus it makes sense to consult with a lawyer promptly about any injury to your child that you believe was caused by someone else’s negligence.

Please note that different rules apply if a child was injured as a result of medical malpractice.  Medical malpractice claims are subject to a statute of repose. A statute of repose imposes an absolute time limit for bringing a claim regardless of the age of the injured person. The statute of repose for bringing a medical malpractice claim is three years. This means that a medical malpractice claim must be initiated within three years of the date of the malpractice regardless of the age of the injured person. Therefore, for example, a medical malpractice claim for a child injured during birth must be initiated within three years of the date of the birth of the child.

There are certain other types of lawsuits where a minor must take legal action well before his or her 19th birthday.

Determining the deadline for filing suit in a particular case is very complicated. The consequence of a late filing – even by one day – is the loss of your legal rights. Therefore, the safest course of action is to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe you may have a claim. Most lawyers, including this writer (John Day),  do not charge for this type of consultation.

Call From Lawyer Soliciting Case

I was in a car wreck last month.  I was hurt pretty bad.  I got home from the hospital last night and a lawyer called me and said that he wanted to represent me in my case.  I have no idea who this man is or how he got my name and telephone number.  Nobody in my family has ever heard of him and I asked the lawyer who did my divorce case about him and she said she never heard of him.  Can he call me like this?  Should I hire him?  He said he could get me a lot of money.

This lawyer is a scumbag - not only should you not hire him but you should report him to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.  Rule 7.3(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct says this about soliciting a potential client by telephone:  "(a) If a significant motive for the solicitation is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain, a lawyer shall not solicit professional employment by in-person, live telephone, or real-time electronic contact from a prospective client who has not initiated the contact with the lawyer and with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship."  The Comment to the rule explains why is exists:

[1] There is a potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person or live telephone contact by a lawyer with a prospective client known to need legal services. These forms of contact between a lawyer and a specifically targeted recipient subject the layperson to the rivate importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The prospective client, who may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult fully to evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment and appropriate self-interest in the face of the lawyer’s presence and insistence upon being retained immediately. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and overreaching.

A lawyer who engages in this conduct is subject to various types of discipline and, in fact, risks loss of his or her license to practice law.

So, why should you care?  I mean, you just need a lawyer, and if the lawyer has undertaken the initiative to seek you out, didn't that just make your job easier?

Here is why you should care.  Every law student is taught that this lawyer cannot do what he did. The prohibition is reinforced in legal seminars for practicing lawyers.  So, you have to ask yourself these questions:  If a lawyer is willing to violate the rules of the profession to get my case, why should I believe that he will follow other rules that are designed to protect my interests?  Why should I believe that he will honestly communicate with me?   Why should I assume that a cheater will only cheat once?   Why should I take the risk that he might cheat me?  Why should I take the risk that he might try to cheat my opponent, get caught and hurt my case?

So, don't hire a lawyer who calls you out of nowhere trying to solicit your case.  Instead, read our legal guide "Understanding How to Hire a Lawyer in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases" to learn about the factors you should consider in determining what lawyer to hire for your case. 

How Much Time Do I Have To File A Lawsuit After The Death of My Wife In A Car Wreck?

My wife was hurt in a car wreck in Middle Tennessee on June 21, 2011 and died in the hospital two days later.  What is my deadline for filing a lawsuit against the driver who caused the wreck?

Unless a lawyer familiar with all of the facts advises you to the contrary,  you should assume that you must file suit a lawsuit against the responsible parties before the one-year anniversary of the wreck.  

In some states the date of death triggers the start of the time period to take legal action. That is usually not so in Tennessee.   Thus, to be safe work under the assumption that the one-year period starts to run from the date of the original injury that later resulted in death.

Of course, you should not wait that long to contact a lawyer.  Valuable evidence can be lost as time passes, and delay increases the possibility that all at-fault parties will not be timely identified and located.

How Many Jurors Must Agree in a Bicycle Accident Case?

 I am involved in a bicycle accident  case in Tennessee state court .  How many jurors must agree to a given result?

Unless the parties to the lawsuit agree otherwise, twelve jurors will decide the case and all twelve must find in favor of the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) or the defendant (the person or entity that has been sued.)  If less than twelve people agree on the outcome, the judge will declare a mistrial and the case will have to be tried again. 

Live in Indiana, Hurt in Car Accident in Nashville, Tennessee and Need Lawyer

 I live in Indiana but was injured in a car accident on Interstate 65 right outside of Nashville.  Do I need a Tennessee lawyer?

You will almost certainly need a Tennessee lawyer.  An Indiana lawyer will probably not be familiar with Tennessee law and will not be able to file a lawsuit here.  Quite candidly, an experienced personal injury lawyer from Indiana would probably be able to negotiate some sort of settlement for you, but once again may be hampered by a lack of knowledge of Tennessee law and procedure that could impact the value received at settlement.

If your hire an Indiana lawyer he or she will probably ask the assistance of a Tennessee lawyer to help him or her with the case.  I have helped lawyers from dozens of states in this situation, and it works quite well if the out-of-state lawyer calls us early enough to protect your rights.   Tennessee law requires that such cases be filed within one year of the date of accident and, unfortunately, several times a year I get a call from an out-of-state lawyer who missed the one year deadline.

So, you can hire a lawyer back home or you can hire a Tennessee lawyer from the outset.  We recommend that you read our Legal Guide "Understanding How to Hire a Lawyer in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases" before you hire a lawyer in either state.  

I Want A Settlement In My Personal Injury Case

 I was in a car wreck about 3 months ago.  The other driver admitted fault.  My medical bills are about $25,000.   I have been released by my doctor.  My lost wages are $5000.   How quickly will my case settle?

At the outset you need to understand that your case may not settle at all.  In Tennessee the insurance company does not have a duty to settle your case and in fact does not even owe you a duty to fairly evaluate your case.    It can settle a case, or not settle a case, on whatever schedule it wants to put in place.

However,  if the insurance company wants to settle the case it needs to have information from your lawyer.  At an absolute minimum, the company needs the accident report, your medical records and bills, perhaps some of your previous medical records, proof of lost wages from your employer, and an understanding of how the injuries have impacted your life.  To the extent you claim a permanent injury, future medical expenses, future loss of earning capacity, or other damages, the insurance company will need proof of that.

Lawyers communicate this information by way of a settlement demand.   All of the relevant information is gathered and the important information is highlighted in a letter.  In our office we attempt to gather all of this information before your are released from your doctor (except the final office note) and have a demand package ready to go to the insurance company within thirty days of when medical treatment is complete.  Lack of cooperation from one of the providers of information will affect our ability to get the demand package out on time.

Insurance companies always ask for more time to evaluate the demand package.  Then, the negotiations start and those can last several weeks even if everyone agrees that the case should be settled.

So, the short answer to your question is there are too many variables to say if your case will be settled and how quickly it will be settled.   It is fair to say that a case cannot settle if your attorney does not promptly gather and exchange information with the insurance company.  This is yet another reason to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who will aggressively pursue your rights.

The Guy That Hit Me Had No Liability Insurance!

I was hit by a drunk driver - he ran a red light and broad-sided me.  He told the cop that he was drinking at home all day, got in an argument with his wife, left the house, and then had the wreck with me. I spent seven days in the hospital and have missed four weeks of work so far.  I still don't know when I can go back to work.  I just found out that the drunk did not have any liability insurance on his car.  Now what?

You will have to rely on your uninsured motorist insurance coverage.  Look at the declarations page of your insurance policy and see what amount of coverage you have.  It is designed to protect you in this situation.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage (and Tennessee law requires your insurance company to sell it to you unless you right it in writing) you will have to collect your damages from your own insurance company.  Your company cannot raise your rates because of an uninsured motorist claim.  

You also can sue the drunk.  Just because someone does not have insurance does not mean that they escape responsibility for their actions.  The problem, of course, is collecting whatever damages you recover.  

This is the type of case where you would benefit from the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.   We will be happy to meet and discuss your case with you.  We do not charge a consultation fee and accept personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis.

Understand What Types of Insurance Apply in Car Wreck Cases

 What types of insurance may apply in a car accident case?

Several different types of insurance coverage apply in a car accident case. First, the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance may apply to cover the damages you sustain in a wreck. In Tennessee, all drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of automobile insurance, specifically $25,000 per person with a cap of $50,000 for each wreck. If two people are injured in a wreck, and the at-fault driver has minimum insurance policy limits, generally speaking the most the insurance company could ever have to pay is $25,000 to each person. If three people are injured in a wreck and the person at fault has minimum limits, the insurance company generally will not have to pay more than $50,000 to all three people combined, and each person cannot recover any more than $25,000. Of course, many drivers break the law and do not carry the required minimum car insurance limits. 

In the driver that causes the accident does not have insurance, your own automobile insurance coverage may also apply in a car accident case. This type of insurance coverage is called uninsured motorist coverage. Subject to certain limitations, you may recover under that portion of your own policy if the other driver is proven to be uninsured.

Similarly, if the other driver has insufficient coverage to pay for your damages and your insurance coverage exceeds the amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, then you may recover the difference between the at-fault driver’s coverage and your own coverage under your underinsured motorist coverage with your automobile insurance carrier. For example, if the at-fault driver has minimum limits of $25,000 per person and you have limits of $100,000 per person, you may recover an additional $75,000 under your uninsured motorist coverage if your damages are $100,000 or more.  The driver (or the driver’s employer, if they are on the job at the time of the wreck) may be required to personally pay in addition to the available insurance coverage. However, recovering more than the available insurance limits is often unrealistic.

You may also have coverage under your policy for medical care – often called medical payments coverage. This coverage is usually limited, with most people having $5,000 or $10,000 worth of coverage. The amount of your medical payments coverage depends on your contract with your automobile insurance company. You will most likely be required by your automobile insurance contract to pay your insurer back for any payments made on your behalf if you recover damages from the at-fault driver. This is called subrogation.

You can see that it is very likely that your own insurance company may not be on your side in a wreck in which at the at-fault driver did not have insurance coverage or did not have enough insurance coverage to pay you for your damages and losses. While you have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company, it makes sense to talk to a lawyer before you give a statement to any insurance company, even your own. At the Law Offices of John Day P.C., we will be happy to advise you on how to give an accurate statement to the insurance company representative.

Car Wrecks and Facebook

I was in a car wreck and spent four days in the hospital because of the injuries I received.  I also will need several months of physical therapy.  When I got out of the hospital I updated my status on my Facebook page.  A friend of mine e-mailed me and said I should be careful about what I post on Facebook about the car accident and my recovery.   Is she right? 

Yes, but not just because you had a car accident.  What you say on social media is there to stay.  Forever.  People who read it will make certain judgments about you based on what you said on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlets.  Thus, one should always use good judgment when utilizing social media.

This is also true after you have been in an accident of any type.  Your adversary will read your social media page.  Your adversary will look at your photographs and videos.  Your adversary will be looking for inconsistent statements or other documentation that indicates that your injuries are different than you claim or affect you differently than you maintain in a lawsuit.  The inconsistency may be minor, but your adversary will try to make it look like a lie.

Therefore, our firm suggests that our clients be very careful about what they write or otherwise post on social media.  Indeed, in a perfect world, we would like you not to publish anything.  At a minimum, use very good judgment about what you publish.  If you are unsure how to handle this, an experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the specifics of your situation.

What Is The Deadline for Filing an Automobile Wreck Case in Tennessee?

I was hurt in a car wreck in Tennessee.  The other driver was also from Tennessee.  How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?

You have one year from the date of the wreck to file a lawsuit.  Failure to file suit within the one year period will result in a loss of your rights.

However, you should not wait this long to hire a lawyer.  A lawyer needs time to investigate the case ad sometimes critical evidence can disappear if the lawyer is not hired early in the case.  Also, it is possible that the lawyer can negotiate a settlement on your behalf, thus eliminating the expense that goes with filing a lawsuit.  Thus, it is recommended that you hire a promptly and not wait until the one year deadline for action approaches.

Use of Police Report As Evidence

The police accident report says that I was not at fault in my wreck and that the other driver was at fault.  Can I used the police report as evidence at a trial to prove the wreck was not my fault?

Not in Tennessee state court.  A rule of evidence specifically excludes police accident reports from the types of public records that can be admitted into evidence at trial to show how an accident occurred.

Why?  Because unless the officer actually saw the accident the police report is only the officer's opinion about what happened.  That opinion may be based on solely on whether the officer believes one person or the other and may have little value in determining what actually happened.  

A police officer who see a wreck can be asked to testify about what he or she saw.  He or she can also be asked about what the people involved in the lawsuit said after the wreck and about measurements taken at the scene of the wreck.   But the police report cannot be introduced into evidence absent extraordinary circumstances, whether the officer is there or not.

This does not mean that a police report has no value.  A police report can go a long way in persuading an insurance adjuster that his or her insured is "at fault" in a wreck.  Conversely, a report that does not fault the insured will greatly hamper one's ability to settle the case with the insurance company for that insured.  

How Can I Find Out How Much Insurance The Other Driver Has?

I was in a car wreck several months ago.  The other driver's insurance company called me and asked me some questions.  I then asked him how much insurance his driver had, but he refused to tell me.  He said that in Tennessee I could not find out how much insurance the other driver had, even if I filed a lawsuit. Is that true?

Yes.  Tennessee is the only state in the nation that does not require an insurance company to disclose the amount of liability insurance in place for an accident.  This is a result of a powerful lobbying effort in the Legislature, led by Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.

Sometimes an insurance company will voluntarily disclose the amount of coverage it has.  However, in the ordinary situation, the only way you can discover how much insurance the other driver has is to win a lawsuit and start the process to collect the money you are due.

Let me add one thing.  The amount of insurance does not influence the value of your case. In other words,  the value of your case depends on the nature and extent of your injuries, the amount of your medical bills, and many other factors.  (Read more on the damages recoverable in personal injury cases in Tennessee here.)  The amount of liability insurance is not a factor and in fact the jury is never about the existence, much less the amount, of insurance.  The amount of insurance only determines the likelihood of being able to recover the full amount of the damages you sustained.  If there is an insufficient amount of insurance available, you will be forced to try to collect the excess from the driver and the trucking company.

Why Won't the Police Issue a Ticket to the At-Fault Driver?

My car was hit at a local intersection.  The guy that hit me ran the red light - and admitted that he did so - but he police officer didn't even give him a ticket!  Why not?  I have called the officer four times to ask why but she won't return my call.

Police officers have discretion about when they write a ticket, and sometimes they simply choose not to do so.  I must confess that I don't always understand why tickets are issued in some cases and not in others,but the fact of the matter is that police officers do not issue tickets in many automobile wreck cases when they would have the perfect right to do so.

The fact that no ticket was written will almost certainly not hurt your case, especially if the police report indicates that the other driver admitted fault.   A statement by a police officer in a police report that the other driver admitted fault will carry a lot of weight with his insurance company as it decides whether or not to promptly resolve the claim. 

Statement to Insurance Adjuster for the At-Fault Driver?

 I was in a car wreck last week.  I  spent five days in the hospital and am now recovering at home.  I am getting a couple calls a day from the insurance adjuster for the driver that hit me.  The message he left for me is that he wants to take a statement from me about how the wreck happened.  Should I talk to him and give him a statement?

We do not recommend that our clients give a statement to the other driver's insurance company.  There are several exceptions to this general rule, but even then we do not permit our clients to give a statement without adequate preparation for the interview.

We do not prepare our clients by telling them what to say or encouraging them to lie.  In fact, just the opposite is true:  we encourage our clients to tell the truth about the circumstances giving rise to the wreck, the nature and extent of their injuries, and everything else.   Preparation is necessary because insurance adjusters are trained in asking questions, and may ask questions in such a way that the unprepared witness will make mistakes.   These statements are almost always tape-recorded and can be used against the person in court.

Thus, I recommend that you talk to a lawyer before giving a statement. 

The Person Who Caused the Wreck Died. How Does That Affect My Rights?

I was hurt in a head-on automobile accident.  The driver that crossed the centerline and hit me died in the wreck.   Do I have legal rights against him even if he is dead?

Yes.   Although you can't sue someone who is dead, you can sue his estate.   If an estate is not opened for him, you (through your lawyer) can petition the court to have an estate opened so that you can sue it and collect the monies you are entitled to recover.

The fact that the person who hit you died does not relieve his insurance company of the obligation to defend the case and pay the monies to you that you are entitled to receive under the law (up to the liability insurance policy limits).  To the extent that the value of your case exceeds the amount of insurance available, you will also have a claim against the assets of the deceased driver.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to help you through this process.   Remember that in Tennessee a personal injury claim must be filed against the responsible people within one year of the date of the accident.   Under these circumstances you will need act even more promptly than usual because the lawyer you hire will need to do extra work to get an estate opened for the decedent so that suit can be filed within one year of the date of the accident. 

Lack of Sufficient Liability Insurance. Now What?

 I was in a bad car wreck.   I had $100,000 in medical bills and missed fifteen weeks of work  (I make $1200 per week as a plumber).   I am probably going to have to have another surgery.  My doctor also says I will have arthritis in my left leg for the rest of my life.   I just found out that the person who hit me only has $100,000 of liability insurance.   That is not enough for what she did to me.   Can I force the person who caused the wreck to pay me out of his pocket?

A person or company is always liable for all of the harm they negligently cause.  A person purchases insurance to reduce his or her own risk of coming out of pocket to pay for that harm, but if the harm caused exceeds the amount of insurance purchased  she is liable for the rest.  

The problem, of course, is collecting from a person who causes harm.  To make a payment to the injured person over and above the amount of insurance the person who causes harm must have assets, income, or both.   Many people have very few assets and insufficient income to make a payment to the person who they hurt.   If pressed, these people will often just file bankruptcy and the bankruptcy court will discharge the obligation.   (There are some exceptions to this.  For example, the bankruptcy court will not discharge the lawsuit-related obligation of a drunk driver or a person who intentionally harms another.) 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you evaluate the factors you should consider in determining how hard to press the defendant to make a personal contribution over and above the liability insurance policy available for the claim.  This often requires an attempt to get the at-fault driver to disclose his assets and income information.  Smart people do this, knowing that the failure to do so will result in a lawsuit and probably bankruptcy.

Time Period Needed to Settle a Case

I was in a car wreck about 6 months ago.  The other driver admitted fault.  My medical bills are about $35,000.   I have been released by my doctor.  My lost wages are $12,000.   How quickly will my case settle?

At the outset you need to understand that your case may not settle at all.  In Tennessee the insurance company does not have a duty to settle your case and in fact does not even owe you a duty to fairly evaluate your case.    It can settle a case, or not settle a case, on whatever schedule it wants to put in place.

However,  if the insurance company wants to settle the case it needs to have information from your lawyer.  At an absolute minimum, the company needs the accident report, your medical records and bills, perhaps some of your previous medical records, proof of lost wages from your employer, and an understanding of how the injuries have impacted your life.  To the extent you claim a permanent injury, future medical expenses, future loss of earning capacity, or other damages, the insurance company will need proof of that.

Lawyers communicate this information by way of a settlement demand.   All of the relevant information is gathered and the important information is highlighted in a letter.  In our office we attempt to gather all of this information before your are released from your doctor (except the final office note) and have a demand package ready to go to the insurance company within thirty days of when medical treatment is complete.  Lack of cooperation from one of the providers of information will affects the lawyer's  ability to get the demand package out on time.

Insurance companies always ask for more time to evaluate the demand package.  Then, the negotiations start and those can last several weeks even if everyone agrees that the case should be settled.

So, the short answer to your question is there are too many variables to say if your case will be settled and how quickly it will be settled.   It is fair to say that a case cannot settle if your attorney does not promptly gather and exchange information with the insurance company.  This is yet another reason to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who will aggressively pursue your rights. 

What Happens if the Person Who Hurt Me Has Died?

 I was hurt in a head-on automobile accident caused by a careless pick-up truck driver.  The driver that crossed the centerline and hit me died in the wreck.   Do I have legal rights against him even if he is dead?

Yes.   Although you can't sue someone who is dead, you can sue his estate.   If an estate has not been opened for him, you (through your lawyer) can petition the court to have an estate opened so that you can sue it and collect the monies you are entitled to recover.  Any recovery would come from the liability insurance coverage that the decedent had that was applicable to the wreck and, to the extent that the damages awarded exceeded the insurance coverage, from the assets of the estate.

The fact that the person who hit you died does not relieve his insurance company of the obligation to defend the case and pay the monies to you that you are entitled to receive under the law (up to the liability insurance policy limits). 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to help you through this process.   Remember that in Tennessee a personal injury claim must be filed against the responsible people within one year of the date of the accident.   Under these circumstances you will need act even more promptly than usual because the lawyer you hire will need to do extra work to get an estate opened for the decedent so that suit can be filed within one year of the date of the accident.

Car Wreck Lawsuit Against the State of Tennessee

My husband was hurt in a car wreck when a state employee driving a state vehicle ran a stop sign.  I think I read somewhere that the State of Tennessee and its employees can't be sued.  hat doesn't seem fair.   

The employee cannot be sued if the injury was caused by negligence and the employee was working for the State at the time of the wreck.  However, the State can be held responsible for the negligence of its employee under these circumstances, but some of the procedures are much different than those applicable to a private business. 

The claim against the State is not filed in court but instead is asserted as a claim through the Tennessee  Claims Commission.  Proper notice of the claim must be given and, if the claim is denied (it usually is) then a formal claim must be filed.  The entire process is administered through the Claims Commission.  The Attorney General's Office defends the State.

There is no right to have the case decided by a jury.  Instead, a Claims Commissioner decides the case.  Damages for any one person are limited to no more than $300,000, regardless of the severity of the injury.
 

 

 

 

Car Wreck While Working

 I was running an errand for my employer last week and was in car wreck.  The other driver was passing me, but turned in to our lane too early, hitting the front of my car and spinning me into the median where my car rolled-over.  My car was totaled and I spent five days in the hospital.  What are my rights?

 

You have two potential claims.  First, you have a worker's compensation claim because you were injured in the course of employment (assuming your employer has five or more employees).  

Second, you have a claim against the driver of the other car.  This is called a "tort" claim.

Since your injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization, you almost certainly could benefit from the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.    This lawyer will be able to help you receive the benefits you are entitled to receive under the worker's compensation law and under tort law.

To preserve your worker's compensation claim rights be sure that your employer has notice that you were in the car wreck.  It is best to give notice in writing.   If the tort claim is not settled, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of the wreck or your rights with be lost.  The time period for filing a worker's compensation claim is dependent on your medical treatment - an experienced lawyer can advise you of when you must act to protect your rights after he or she has been advised of your treatment course.

Injured In Car Wreck Caused By Sheriff's Deputy

 I was hit at an intersection by a car belonging to the local sheriff's department.  The deputy ran a red light.  He did not have his emergency lights or siren on when the wreck happened.  Can I sue the deputy for the injuries I received?

No, but you can sue the Sheriff's department.  The individual deputy is immune from suit if the wreck was caused while he was on the job, but the Sheriff's department (county government) is responsible for the acts of the deputy.

Tennessee limits the amount of damages that can be awarded against a local government.  For wrecks occurring on or after July 1, 2007,  a "governmental entity" may not be required to pay more than $300,000 for any one person injured in an auto wreck or more than $700,000 for all people injured in a wreck. 

Different rules apply for medical malpractice cases.

If the deputy was not on the job at the time of the wreck he could be held personally responsible for his actions.

Am I Entitled to A Rental Car if My Car is Totaled in a Wreck?

I was in a wreck and my car was totaled.  Does the at-fault driver's insurance company have to rent me a different vehicle?

Legally, no but practically that frequently occurs. Technically, in Tennessee the person who caused the wreck must pay for “loss of use” of your car. That loss is often measured by the cost of renting a replacement vehicle.

However, do not go out to a big-name car rental company and rent a replacement car and except the other driver’s insurance company to pay for it. Those companies often have contracts with lesser-known rental companies that charge less for rental cars. So, make sure you have a clear understanding with the other driver’s insurance company about what car you can rent and who will pay for it before you rent a replacement vehicle.   Better yet, let your lawyer help you with this issue. 

Your may also have replacement car coverage on your insurance policy.

Does Tennessee Have PIP Coverage?

Is there PIP coverage in Tennessee?

No. Tennessee does not have a no-fault system and therefore does not have PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage as a part of automobile or truck liability insurance policies issued in Tennessee. However, if you live in a state that has no-fault and PIP coverage, your insurance policy may give you benefits not available to Tennessee residents. If you are from out-of-state but were injured in a car or truck wreck in Tennessee, the attorneys at Law Offices of John Day P.C. will be happy to review your insurance policy and determine what benefits it provides under the circumstances.

Hurt in A Car Wreck While I Was Working - What Are My Rights?

I was running an errand for my employer last week and was in a wreck with a pick-up truck.  My car was stopped in traffic on Interstate 40 near Lebanon, Tennessee and the pick-up rear-ended my car at a high rate of speed.  My car was totaled and I spent five days in the hospital.  What are my rights?

You have two potential claims.  First, you have a worker's compensation claim because you were injured in the course of employment (assuming your employer has five or more employees).  

Second, you have a claim against the driver of the other car.  This is called a "tort" claim.

Since your injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization, you almost certainly could benefit from the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.    This lawyer will be able to help you receive the benefits you are entitled to receive under the worker's compensation law and under tort law.

To preserve your worker's compensation claim rights be sure that your employer has notice that you were in the car wreck.  It is best to give notice in writing.   If the tort claim is not settled, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of the wreck or your rights with be lost.  The time period for filing a worker's compensation claim is dependent on your medical treatment - an experienced lawyer can advise you of when you must act to protect your rights after he or she has been advised of your treatment course.

Wreck in a Parking Lot

My car was broad-sided in a high school parking lot by a student who was not paying attention. There are two witnesses and the student admitted it was his fault.  However, the police would not come because they said that the wreck did not happen on a public street.  Does that fact that this wreck happened in a parking lot affect my rights to seek damages for the injuries I received in the wreck?

Not under Tennessee law.  All drivers have the obligation to exercise reasonable care at all times, and that includes the operation of a vehicle in a parking lot.  

The fact that a police officer did not appear is not fatal to your case, particularly if there were others present that saw the wreck.   I hope you got the names and contact information of these witnesses and, if you did, make sure you hold on to that information.  I assume that you also got contract information for the other driver.

You need to report this wreck to your auto insurance company as soon as possible.  It is also recommended that you speak with a lawyer before giving a statement to the insurance company - either your company or the other driver's company.   Any statement you give can be used against you in a later proceeding.

 

What Does It Mean When You Have Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policy Limits of $50,000 / $100,000?

I live in Tennessee.  I was in a car wreck in Clarksville and got hurt.  It was the other driver's  fault.  The other driver has no insurance.   I looked at my automobile insurance policy and it says that I have uninsured motorist insurance of $50,000 / $100,000. What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is the fault of another driver who does not have any insurance your insurance company will pay you up to $50,000 in losses and damages you suffer.   If more than one person in your vehicle is injured in the wreck, the company will pay up to $100,000 to all of the persons in your vehicle who were injured and covered under the policy but no more than $50,000 for any one person. 

 Note that each person who is injured does not automatically get $50,000 - they must demonstrate amount of their damages and can recover up to $50,000 each.

Your policy also provides your protection if the at-fault driver was underinsured.  For example, assume that the driver that hit you was from another state and had a liability insurance policy that provided the driver $10,000 / $20,000 in liability insurance coverage.  That means that for any one car wreck that was the other driver's  fault his insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $10,000 in losses and damages they suffer.   If more than one person is injured in the wreck, the company will pay, on the at-fault driver's behalf, up to $20,000 but no more than $10,000 for any one person. 

If such a driver caused you $100,000 in damages, he would have insufficient insurance to pay you what you were entitled to receive under the law.  He is underinsured for your claim.  When it is proven that an underinsured driver caused your wreck, you have the right to insist that your uninsured motorist coverage to pay the rest of your damages up to the amount of your insurance coverage, minus the amount of liability insurance coverage from the at-fault driver.  So, under this hypothetical, you could collect $10,000 from the at-fault driver and $40,000 from your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage.  (Your uninsured motorist coverage is reduced by the amount of liability insurance of the at-fault driver.)   Unfortunately, you would be left with trying to recover the additional $50,000 from the at-fault driver personally.

Uninsured motorist coverage is a very complicated subject.   Tennessee has some very peculiar rules that govern uninsured motorist cases.  We offer a free consultation to people who have been involved in accidents and believe that they may have an uninsured motorist claim.  

What Does It Mean When You Have Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policy Limits of $250,000 / $500,000?

I live in Tennessee.  I was in a car wreck in Lebanon, Tennessee and got hurt.  It was the other driver's  fault.  The other driver has no insurance.   I looked at my automobile insurance policy and it says that I have uninsured motorist insurance of $250,000 / $500,000. What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is the fault of another driver who does not have any insurance your insurance company will pay you up to $250,000 in losses and damages you suffer.   If more than one person in your vehicle is injured in the wreck, the company will pay up to $500,000 to all of the persons in your vehicle who were injured and covered under the policy but no more than $250,000 for any one person. 

 Note that each person who is injured does not automatically get $250,000 - they must demonstrate amount of their damages and can recover up to $250,000 each.

Your policy also provides your protection if the at-fault driver was underinsured.  For example, assume that the driver that hit you had a liability insurance policy that provided the driver $100,000 / $300,000 in liability insurance coverage.  That means that for any one car wreck that was the other driver's  fault his insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $100,000 in losses and damages they suffer.   If more than one person is injured in the wreck, the company will pay, on the at-fault driver's behalf, up to $300,000 but no more than $100,000 for any one person. 

If such a driver caused you $300,000 in damages, he would have insufficient insurance to pay you what you were entitled to receive under the law.  He is underinsured for your claim.  When it is proven that an underinsured driver caused your wreck, you have the right to insist that your uninsured motorist coverage to pay the rest of your damages up to the amount of your insurance coverage, minus the amount of liability insurance coverage from the at-fault driver.  So, under this hypothetical, you could collect $100,000 from the at-fault driver and $150,000 from your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage.  (Your uninsured motorist coverage is reduced by the amount of liability insurance of the at-fault driver.)   Unfortunately, you would be left with trying to recover the additional $50,000 from the at-fault driver personally.

Uninsured motorist coverage is a very complicated subject.   Tennessee has some very peculiar rules that govern uninsured motorist cases.  We offer a free consultation to people who have been involved in accidents and believe that they may have an uninsured motorist claim.  

Can My Statement on the Accident Report Be Used?

I was in a wreck.  The police took a statement from me but she did not accurately put down what I said in the accident report.  Can the accident report be used against me in a personal injury case? 

Yes, but not directly.  In most cases, the accident report cannot be admitted into evidence in a Tennessee state court.  However, the police officer who you asked you questions can be subpoenaed into court and asked what you said to her.  She will be given the right to review report, which may well be all that she remembers about what you said to her.  Therefore, if the officer recalls only what is in the report and will not agree that the report is or could be wrong,  the evidence of your statement as set forth in the report (technically, the officer's testimony about that statement) can be used against you.

 

 

What Does It Mean When You Have Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policy Limits of $25,000 / $50,000?

I live in Tennessee.  I was in a car wreck in Nashville and got hurt.  It was the other driver's  fault.  The other driver has no insurance.   I looked at my automobile insurance policy and it says that I have uninsured motorist insurance of $25,000 / $50,000. What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is the fault of another driver who does not have any insurance your insurance company will pay you up to $25,000 in losses and damages you suffer.   If more than one person in your vehicle is injured in the wreck, the company will pay up to $25,000 to all of the persons in your vehicle who were injured and covered under the policy but no more than $50,000 for any one person. 

 Note that each person who is injured does not automatically get $25,000 - they must demonstrate amount of their damages and can recover up to $25,000 each.

Your policy also provides your protection if the at-fault driver was underinsured.  For example, assume that the driver that hit you was from another state and had a liability insurance policy that provided the driver $10,000 / $20,000 in liability insurance coverage.  That means that for any one car wreck that was the other driver's  fault his insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $10,000 in losses and damages they suffer.   If more than one person is injured in the wreck, the company will pay, on the at-fault driver's behalf, up to $20,000 but no more than $10,000 for any one person. 

If such a driver caused you $100,000 in damages, he would have insufficient insurance to pay you what you were entitled to receive under the law.  He is underinsured for your claim.  When it is proven that an underinsured driver caused your wreck, you have the right to insist that your uninsured motorist coverage to pay the rest of your damages up to the amount of your insurance coverage, minus the amount of liability insurance coverage from the at-fault driver.  So, under this hypothetical, you could collect $10,000 from the at-fault driver and $15,000 from your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage.  (Your uninsured motorist coverage is reduced by the amount of liability insurance of the at-fault driver.)   Unfortunately, you would be left with trying to recover the additional $75,000 from the at-fault driver personally.

Uninsured motorist coverage is a very complicated subject.   Tennessee has some very peculiar rules that govern uninsured motorist cases.  We offer a free consultation to people who have been involved in accidents and believe that they may have an uninsured motorist claim. 

What Does It Mean When You Have Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policy Limits of $100,000 / $300,000?

  I live in Tennessee.  I was in a car wreck in Nashville and got hurt.  It was the other driver's  fault.  The other driver has no insurance.   I looked at my automobile insurance policy and it says that I have uninsured motorist insurance of $100,000 / $300,000. What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is the fault of another driver who does not have any insurance your insurance company will pay you up to $100,000 in losses and damages you suffer.   If more than one person in your vehicle is injured in the wreck, the company will pay up to $300,000 to all of the persons in your vehicle who were injured and covered under the policy but no more than $100,000 for any one person. 

 Note that each person who is injured does not automatically get $100,000 - they must demonstrate amount of their damages and can recover up to $100,000 each.

Your policy also provides your protection if the at-fault driver was underinsured.  For example, assume that the driver that hit you had a liability insurance policy that provided the driver $25,000 / $50,000 in liability insurance coverage.  That means that for any one car wreck that was the other driver's  fault his insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $25,000 in losses and damages they suffer.   If more than one person is injured in the wreck, the company will pay, on the at-fault driver's behalf, up to $50,000 but no more than $25,000 for any one person. 

If such a driver caused you $100,000 in damages, he would have insufficient insurance to pay you what you were entitled to receive under the law.  He is underinsured for your claim.  When it is proven that an underinsured driver caused your wreck, you have the right to insist that your uninsured motorist coverage to pay the rest of your damages up to the amount of your insurance coverage, minus the amount of liability insurance coverage from the at-fault driver.  So, under this hypothetical, you could collect $25,000 from the at-fault driver and $75,000 from your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage.  (Your uninsured motorist coverage is reduced by the amount of liability insurance of the at-fault driver.)

Uninsured motorist coverage is a very complicated subject.   Tennessee has some very peculiar rules that govern uninsured motorist cases.  We offer a free consultation to people who have been involved in accidents and believe that they may have an uninsured motorist claim.

 

                                                                

 

 

 

                                                                

 

What Does It Mean When You Have Liability Insurance Policy Limits of $250,000 / $500,000?

  I was in a car wreck yesterday.  It was probably my fault.  I looked at my automobile liability insurance policy and it says that I have liability limits of $250,000 / $500,000. What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is your fault your insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $250,000 in losses and damages they suffer.   If more than one person is injured in the wreck, the company will pay, on your behalf, up to $500,000 but no more than $250,000 for any one person. 

So, if one person was hurt in the wreck, the insurer will pay no more than $250,000 in damages.  If two people were hurt, the insurer will pay up to $500,000, but no more than $250,000 per person.  If three people were hurt, the insurer will pay up to $500,000, but no more than $250,000 per person. Note that each person who is injured does not automatically get $250,000 - they must demonstrate amount of their damages and can recover up to $250,000 each.

To the extent that a person injured in the wreck has claim worth more than $250,000 you are personally responsible for the amount of damages over $250,000 if the wreck was your fault.

Your policy also has a separate provision for paying property damage to the other driver's car if it is determined that the wreck was your fault.

 

                                                                

 

What Does It Mean When You Have Liability Insurance Policy Limits of $300,000?

I was in a car wreck yesterday.  It was probably my fault.  I looked at my automobile liability insurance policy and it says that I have liability limits of $300,000.  What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is your fault your insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $300,000 in losses and damages they suffer.  This is true whether one person is injured or five people are injured: the most the insurance company will pay is $300,000.

To the extent that a person injured in the wreck has claim worth more than $300,000 you are personally responsible for the amount of damages over $300,000 if the wreck was your fault. Likewise, if more than one person is injured and the total damages caused by your negligence exceeds $300,000, you are personally responsible for the amounts over $300,000.

Your policy also has a separate provision for paying property damage to the other driver's car if it is determined that the wreck was your fault.

                                                            

 

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I Think I Am Under Surveillance

I have a pending personal injury claim from a wreck with a truck.  I think someone is following me around and photographing or videoing my activities.  Can insurance companies do that?

Yes, within certain limits.  It is not uncommon for insurance companies to use surveillance to determine what task you can perform.  The private investigators look to "catch" you performing sports activities, yard work and other physical labor that they say is inconsistent with the limitations and physical injuries you are claiming in litigation.

This is something that you need to discuss with your lawyer as soon as possible.

What Does It Mean When You Have Liability Insurance Policy Limits of $25,000 / $50,000?

 I was in a car wreck yesterday.  It was probably my fault.  I looked at my automobile liability insurance policy and it says that I have liability limits of $25,000 / $50,000. What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is your fault your insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $25,000 in losses and damages they suffer.   If more than one person is injured in the wreck, the company will pay, on your behalf, up to $50,000 but no more than $25,000 for any one person. 

So, if one person was hurt in the wreck, the insurer will pay no more than $25,000 in damages.  If two people were hurt, the insurer will pay up to $50,000, but no more than $25,000 per person.  If three people were hurt, the insurer will pay up to $50,000, but no more than $25,000 per person. Note that each person who is injured does not automatically get $25,000 - they must demonstrate amount of their damages and can recover up to $25,000 each.

To the extent that a person injured in the wreck has claim worth more than $25,000 you are personally responsible for the amount of damages over $25,000 if the wreck was your fault.

Your policy also has a separate provision for paying property damage to the other driver's car if it is determined that the wreck was your fault.

                                                                

 

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Can A Parent of an Adult Child File a Personal Injury Case for the Adult Child?

My 22-year old son was hurt in a car wreck.  Can I file a lawsuit for him? 

No, unless he is so severely injured or suffers from some type of disability that he is deemed incompetent.  If he is incompetent, there are formal proceedings which must be filed to have him declared incompetent in the eyes of the law.  If that happens, a conservator will be appointed and he or she will have the power to file or defend a lawsuit.  If you are appointed the conservator, you would have that right.

However, if your son is competent, he is the only one who can file suit on his behalf.  You can help him find a lawyer and can give him assistance in preparing the case, but the decision to file and the right to file is his and his alone.

What Damages Can A Parent Recover in a Personal Injury Case for a Minor Child?

My son was bit by a neighbor's dog.  What rights do I have in a lawsuit against the dog owner? 

You have the right to recover medical expenses that you paid or were paid by your insurance company.  (You almost certainly have to repay your health insurance company out of the settlement or judgment.)  You can also recover damages for loss of services of your child.

Under Tennessee law, you cannot recover damages loss of the relationship between you and your child because of the injuries or for your emotional distress at seeing your child deal with his injuries.  

However, you may be able to recover damages for emotional distress if you saw or heard the dog attack your son or came up on the scene of the event shortly after the dog attack occurred.    An experienced personal injury lawyer can tell you whether you qualify for recovery of this type of damages - they are dependent of the details of your case and your emotional injuries, if any.

Can I Bring A Lawsuit For My Daughter?

My 10-year old daughter was hurt in a car wreck.  Her dad and I are divorced.  Can I file a lawsuit on her behalf?

Yes, if you are the custodial parent you are permitted to bring a lawsuit on your daughter's behalf.  If you are not the custodial parent the appropriate person to bring the lawsuit is your daughter's father ( I assume that he is the custodial parent).  

Even if you are the custodial parent and have the right to file suit, you should work with the child's father and try to maintain a united front in the litigation.

If a custodial parent refuses to file a lawsuit for a child and the non-custodial parent believes that a lawsuit should be filed, an experienced personal injury  lawyer can explain the steps you must take to assert the claim.

What Does It Mean When You Have Liability Insurance Policy Limits of $50,000 / $100,000?

 I was in a car wreck yesterday.  It was probably my fault.  I looked at my automobile liability insurance policy and it says that I have liability limits of $50,000 / $100,000. What does that mean?

It means that for any one car wreck that is your fault your insurance company will pay a person injured in the wreck up to $50,000 in losses and damages they suffer.   If more than one person is injured in the wreck, the company will pay, on your behalf, up to $100,000 but no more than $50,000 for any one person. 

So, if one person was hurt in the wreck, the insurer will pay no more than $50,000 in damages.  If two people were hurt, the insurer will pay up to $100,000, but no more than $50,000 per person.  If three people were hurt, the insurer will pay up to $100,000, but no more than $50,000 per person. Note that each person who is injured does not automatically get $50,000 - they must demonstrate amount of their damages and can recover up to $50,000 each.

To the extent that a person injured in the wreck has claim worth more than $50,000 you are personally responsible for the amount of damages over $50,000 if the wreck was your fault.

Your policy also has a separate provision for paying property damage to the other driver's car if it is determined that the wreck was your fault.

                                                          

 

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Does Tennessee Have PIP Coverage?

I was hurt in a car wreck.  I used to live in Kentucky and we had PIP coverage.  Is there PIP coverage in Tennessee?

Answer: No. Tennessee does not have a no-fault system and therefore does not have PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage as a part of automobile or truck liability insurance policies issued in Tennessee.   So, if your bought your auto insurance coverage after you moved to Tennessee you do not have PIP coverage.

Note to those people who  live in a state that has no-fault and PIP coverage and who are injured in a wreck in Tennessee:  your insurance policy may give you benefits not available to Tennessee residents. If you are from out-of-state but were injury in a car or truck wreck in Tennessee, the attorneys at Law Offices of John Day P.C. will be happy to review your insurance policy and determine what benefits it provides under the circumstances. 

Are Insurance Companies Afraid To Go To Trial In Personal Injury Cases?

I am thinking about filing a personal injury case.  I think I have a solid case that the insurance company will be afraid to try in front of a jury.  Are insurance companies afraid to try cases?

Not really.  For the typical insurance company, the analysis is all about money.  

In other words, insurance companies evaluate risk.  At the end of the day, they determine whether they will likely win a case or lose a case.  They look at how much a jury might award, how much a jury is likely to award, and how little a jury might award.  They have lots of statistics from which to make this judgment, and they often have very good lawyers help them evaluate a case.

Sometimes their judgment is right.  Sometimes it is wrong.   But at the end of the day, they know that they can solve their mistake of evaluating a case and not offering enough money to settle it by writing a check for more money than they wanted to pay.  They don't like to write the big check, but they are in the risk business and if they are wrong they get out the pen and write the check (after an appeal, etc.)

The evaluation of a case is very complex, and you need an experienced lawyer to guide you through the litigation process.  One factor the insurance company considers in evaluating risk is the quality of lawyer the adversary has hired.  The fact of the matter is that who you hire as a lawyer almost always makes a difference in the recovery you obtain in a case, whether by settlement or a trial.

If you don't know how to select a lawyer in a personal injury or wrongful death case, read here.

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Should I Give A Statement to My Insurance Company About How the Accident Happened When it was the Other Driver's Fault?

 I was in a car wreck last week.  It was not my fault.  I  spent five days in the hospital and am now recovering at home.  I am getting a couple calls a day from the insurance adjuster for the driver that hit me but I know I should not talk to him.  Now my insurance company is calling me and they want to take a statement from me about how the wreck happened.   Is there anything wrong with me giving a statement to my insurance company before I talk to a lawyer?

We do not recommend that our clients give a statement to either the other driver's insurance company or their own insurance company without adequate preparation for the interview.  Under most auto insurance policies in Tennessee, you have a duty to give your insurance company a statement, but you need to be adequately prepared first.

We do not prepare our clients by telling them what to say or encouraging them to lie.  In fact, just the opposite is true:  we encourage our clients to tell the truth about the circumstances giving rise to the wreck, the nature and extent of their injuries, and everything else.   Preparation is necessary because insurance adjusters are trained in asking questions, and may ask questions in such a way that the unprepared witness will make mistakes.   These statements are almost always tape-recorded and can be used against the person in court.

Why would your insurance company use your statement against you?  Because the driver that hit you may have insufficient insurance to pay your damages and you may have to make a claim against your own company under you uninsured / under-insured motorist coverage.  If that happens, your insurance company will be adverse to you, and your statement can be used against you.

Thus, I recommend that you talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer before giving a statement to any insurance company about your wreck.   Click here to learn how to identify such a lawyer.

Deadline for Filing Car Wreck Lawsuit in Tennessee

I was hurt in a car wreck in Tennessee.  What is the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit?

One year.   You have one year from the date of the car wreck to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties.  Failure to file a lawsuit on time against those who caused the wreck will result in a loss of rights.

There are a couple exceptions to this rule, but they are so fact dependent that I will not list them here out of fear that they might lull someone into thinking that they have more time than they might actually have.  So, assume that the one year deadline applies to you unless an experienced personal injury  lawyer familiar with all of the facts advises you that you have more time.

You should not wait a year to see a lawyer.  If you have injuries that require medical treatment, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible.  You certainly should consult a lawyer before you give a statement to an insurance company, even your insurance company.

Can I Sue The Other Driver's Insurance Company?

I live in Tennessee and was hurt two weeks ago in a wreck in Murfreesboro, TN.  The wreck was not my fault.  My medical bills are $7000 but I still am being treated by my doctor and may need to have an operation on my shoulder.  I was hurt  in a wreck when I used to live in Wisconsin and sued the insurance company to recover my medical expenses and other damages.  Can I do that in Tennessee?

Not really.  Wisconsin and at least one other state have laws that permit an injured person to directly sue the liability insurance company of the at-fault driver.  Tennessee is not one of those states.

 In Tennessee, if you are unable to reach a settlement in the case you have to sue the at-fault driver.  The at-fault driver's insurance company will hire a lawyer to defend the driver and, if you prove your case, will pay the amount your damages up to the amount of the insurance coverage the driver purchased.

In the event the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay all of your damages, you can make a claim against your own automobile insurance coverage under your "uninsured / under-insured motorist coverage (UM / UIM).   You can collect from your own insurance company if your UM / UIM coverage exceeds the amount of liability insurance coverage of the at-fault driver.   Making a claim on your UM / UIM coverage will not affect your insurance rates.  You should make the claim against your UM / UIM insurance at the same time you are making a claim against the at-fault driver.

An experienced lawyer who represents people injured in automobile and truck cases can help guide you through this process and protect your rights.  Click here to learn how to select such a lawyer.

Why Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?

I live in Tennessee and I understand state law requires that everyone who owns a car or truck have liability insurance coverage on the vehicle.  Why should I spend money to purchase uninsured motorist insurance coverage if everyone already has liabilty insurance?

Because (a) some people don't follow the law; (b) some people buy liability insurance coverage but do not purchase an amount that will protect you from losses you sustain in a car or truck wreck; and (c) you may get hit by a hit-and-run driver (and unisured motorist coverage gives you some protection in such cases).

Despite the law that mandates insurance coverage, 20% of the people in Tennessee have no insurance on their vehicle.  That means that 1/5th of the people you meet on the highway have virtually no way of meeting their financial obligation to you if they cause an accident and you are hurt.  You need uninsured motorist coverage to protect you from that risk.

Second, you need uninsured motorist coverage to protect you from the driver who caused a wreck and has purchased an insufficient amount of insurance.  My guess (and it is only a guess) is that 30 or 40 % of Tennessee drivers have only $25,000 in liability coverage available to a person involved in a wreck.  That sum - $25,000 - will not cover an emergency room visit and three nights in an ICU.   Most of the drivers that have low coverage have poor driving records, and many have a history of past DUIs.   These are exactly the drivers more likely to be involved in accidents, and we have to protect ourselves from them.

Third, uninsured motorist coverage protects you (under some circumstances) from hit-and-run drivers.

Ask your insurance agent to show you exactly what uninsured motorist coverage costs - you will be surprised how inexpensive it is.  Then, buy as much as you can.  This is the least expensive insurance coverage you can buy given the risks you face on Tennessee roads every day.

Can A Parent Sue Another Parent For Injuring Their Child

My former spouse was driving our child to school, ran a red light, and was in a wreck.  Our child was seriously injured.  Can I help my son file a lawsuit against his father to collect money for the injuries received in the wreck?

Yes, under Tennessee law a child can sue a parent for injuries that arise out of an auto wreck.  You, as a parent, would have to file suit on behalf of your son because a minor cannot bring a lawsuit on his own behalf.  (Alternatively, the court could appoint a guardian to file suit on behalf of your son.)

The problem is that most auto liability insurance policies in Tennessee do not provide insurance coverage for injuries caused to family members.  Thus, if you and your son can prove that his dad caused the wreck you would have to collect any judgment you receive out of the father's assets and future income.  

Obviously, this is going to materially affect family harmony.   You and your son need to think long and hard about taking this type of legal action.  An experienced lawyer can help guide you through all of the factors you should consider before taking this type of action.

I Hurt My Back. Should I Go to A Chiropractor?

I was hurt in a car accident.  I received a broken arm and a back injury.  The arm is now fine but my back still hurts.  My friend has recommended that I go to her chiropractor for treatment.  Should I?

Tough question.  Have you had any treatment by an orthopedic surgeon?  Have you ever seen a chiropractor before?  Indeed, have you discussed this with your family doctor?

I believe in chiropractic treatment but many insurance companies and juries discount it severely in Middle Tennessee.  To the extent that you want to make a claim and have the other driver's insurance company pay for your treatment you may wish to pursue conventional medicine first and see if that helps you.

Note that I am not suggesting that you seek medical treatment you don't believe in.  If you don't have confidence in treatment of back injuries through conventional medicine then don't go to that type of doctor.  But, if you go to a chiropractor first, be prepared to have to fight to get those bills covered by the other driver's insurance company.

To you chiropractors out there:  I am not maligning your profession.  I am just stating my view of the insurance industry's take your efforts to treat accident victims.  I think it is unfair, but I still believe that insurance companies in this area discount claims where the only treatment has been chiropractic.

How Much Liability Insurance Should I Have on My Vehicle?

 How much liability insurance coverage should I have on my vehicle?

Answer: The amount of coverage you should have should depend on your assets and on your ability to pay. You must have at least $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident.   Most people who have a household income over $50,000 per year should have $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident. If your household income exceeds $100,000 per year, you should have even more insurance, such as $250,000 per person, $500,000 per accident or even more. Ask your agent to quote you the rate on several different liability insurance policy limits – you will be surprised to see how inexpensive the “extra” insurance coverage is.

People who have significant assets should have high liability insurance limits and should also have an “umbrella” or “excess” insurance policy to give them even more protection from if they make a mistake and harm another person. Many wealthy individuals (people with a net worth of over $300,000 or an income of over $150,000 per year) have several million dollars worth of liability insurance.

How Do You Determine Who Is At Fault in A Wreck?

I was in an intersection wreck.  I say it was the other guy's fault.  He says it was my fault.  Who decides who was at fault?

If a lawsuit is filed a jury usually decides who is at fault (unless a jury is not requested by either party to the case, in which event a judge decides).  The jury will listen to your side of the story, the other driver's side of the story, the testimony of any witness, and review any physical evidence at the scene.   Sometimes expert witnesses are hired to explain what happened.

At the end of the day the jury considers all of the evidence, hears the law explained by the judge and uses common sense to decide who probably caused the wreck.  Under our system of justice, the person who files a lawsuit only needs to prove that more likely than not the other driver caused the wreck.  If the person who files the case is unable to prove that the other driver more likely than not caused the wreck the case will be lost.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to gather the evidence, help you present it to a jury, and how to try to persuade the jury to find in your favor. A lawyer uses many of the same skills before a trial to try to persuade the insurance adjuster for the other driver that a jury will find the other driver at fault and therefore the insurance adjuster should settle a case in your favor.

Can I Tell From How Much Insurance Someone Has By Knowing What Type of Car They Have?

I was in a car wreck and was hurt bad.  The other driver was driving a new car.   I have been talking with the insurance company for the other driver.  I asked how much insurance was on the car and the insurance adjuster would not tell me.   I guess the other driver has lots of insurance because she was driving a new car, right?

Maybe.   There is no way to know for sure how much insurance someone has just by looking at the type of car they are driving.  It is reasonable to assume that a person who has a new car has enough money to purchase a responsible amount of liability insurance, but some people spend all of their money on their car and buy the minimum insurance they are required to have in Tennessee - $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident.

Because Tennessee has no formal way of insisting that insurance companies reveal how much insurance coverage they have until after a judgment is obtained, I often look at the type of car, the at-fault driver's home, the at-fault driver's job and other factors to make an educated  guess about how much insurance is available.  Sometimes my guess is  right, sometimes my guess is wrong.  At the end of the day, however, if my client has a case that is worth more than the offer the insurance company has given and has represented that no more insurance is available, I insist (with my client's permission) that the insurance company prove that the at-fault driver has no more insurance applicable to the claim.  The is accomplished by requiring a copy of the declarations page for the insurance policy and an affidavit from the insured stating that no additional insurance is available.

Thanksgiving Day Car and Truck Wrecks

Be especially careful when you drive this holiday weekend.  People will be rushing from house to house to participate in Thanksgiving activities and all too many of them will be under the influence of alcohol.  The cars will be filled with children, which increases the likelihood that the driver of the car can be distracted.

Have safe travels during this Thanksgiving holiday.

I Was Hit By A Police Car!

I was driving to work in Franklin, Tennessee.  A police car driven by an officer who was on-duty ran a red light and hit my car.  I had to go to the hospital in an ambulance and spent three days in the hospital.  Can I sue the police officer?

No, you cannot sue the police officer.  Tennessee law does not permit you to sue a government employee who negligently caused an automobile wreck while he or she was on-duty.

However, you can sue the governmental entity that employed  the police officer, and it is responsible for the harm caused by the police officer if he or she is found to be negligent.  There are special laws that limit the liability of governmental entities that cause harm to their citizens in automobile wrecks and other types of personal injury cases, but an experienced personal injury lawyer can guide you through this process.

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Can I Require the Insurance Company to Pay Interest on My Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Settlement?

I was hurt in a car wreck six months ago.  It wasn't my fault.  I have been waiting for over a year for the case to settle.  I lost three months of wages and have had to pay some medical bills that were not covered by my health insurance.  Can I get the insurance company to pay interest on my settlement?  It doesn't seem fair that they can delay my settlement and not have to pay interest.

Not under Tennessee law.   Tennessee law does not permit the recovery of interest in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.  

The only exception to this rule is if you win a case and a judgment is entered by the court you are permitted to recover interest.  Interest accrues at the rate of 10% per year on the amount of the judgment that is unpaid.  

For example, if you win a judgment of $365,000 at a jury trial in Tennessee you are entitled to collect interest of $100 per day from the date of the jury verdict until the date the judgment is paid.  If a partial payment of the judgment is made the interest is payable only on the unpaid portion of the judgment.  (Note:  you have to pay income taxes on the interest that you are paid.  Be sure to talk with you tax advisor about this.)

The inability to collect interest on personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits (unless a judgment is entered) is yet another reason why you want to hire a lawyer who will work to finish your case promptly.  

 

Bankruptcy and Filing of Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claims

 I was hurt in a car wreck six months ago.  I lost my job and my medical bills are enormous.  I am behind on my mortgage and have been unable to make my car payments. Should I file bankruptcy, get my financial house in order, and then file a lawsuit against the trucking company?    I want to be able to get rid of all this debt and be able to keep whatever money I recover in the lawsuit to meet my needs for the rest of my life.

There is a major problem with your plan.  When you file for bankruptcy you are asked to answer questions under oath about your assets and liabilities.  One of the questions you will be asked is whether you have any claims against another person or entity.  Thus, you will have to tell the Bankruptcy Court that you have a claim pending against the driver of the other car.  This is true even though you have not filed a lawsuit - you still are considered to have a claim pending that must be disclosed to the Court.

When you tell the Bankruptcy Court that you have a claim pending that fact will be taken into account in determining whether you are a candidate for bankruptcy and what amount should be paid to your creditors.  As I explained in a prior post, you will also lose significant control over the progression of your case.

You may think that you could avoid this mess by simply not disclosing the claim on your Bankruptcy Court petition.  This would be a serious mistake.  Not only could you be charged with a crime for not disclosing the claim,  but it is possible that you could lose your right to assert the claim against the trucking company.

So what should you do?    Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine if your claim against the trucking company has merit.  Then, let the personal injury lawyer find you an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can help determine if you are an appropriate candidate for bankruptcy and, if so, what type of bankruptcy.   The coordination of efforts of these two professionals will reduce the likelihood that your situation will become worse than it already is.

Car Insurance In Tennessee

When I complained about my car insurance rates my agent said that the reason rates were so high was lawsuits.  Is that right?

Well, it is true that insurance companies pay claims and, when they don't pay the claims they should or don't pay a fair amount lawsuits will be filed.   Of course, that is the business they are in.

The facts are that Tennessee consumers and juries are very conservative and our insurance rates reflect that.  While no one likes writing a check to an insurance company,  Insure.com tells us that Tennessee has the 8th lowest auto insurance rates in the nation.

The average Tennessee premium was $1,170.12 per year.  That puts us 42nd on the list of all states, with Louisiana having the highest average premium at $2510.87.    The national average is $1420.78.  We have lower rates in Tennessee than every other southern state except one - North Carolina - and its rates are only  less than $40 less per year than our rates.

 So - do lawsuits affect insurance rates?  Of course.  But we buy insurance to protect ourselves from personal financial loss in the event we negligently injure another, and we have a right to depend on fair treatment by insurance companies when we are injured by the negligence of others.  

How Many Jurors Do I Need to Win?

 I have a personal injury case going to try in Cookeville, TN next month.  How many jurors need to vote for me for me to win?

You will probably have a 12-person jury.  That is the typical number of jurors in a civil jury trial in Tennessee.  You and your opponent may agree to a lesser number of jurors, but you will almost certainly have 12 jurors (and one or more alternate jurors) hear the case.

All twelve jurors must vote for you for you to win the case.  Some states permit a lesser number (10 of 12, 9 of 12) but in Tennessee the jury verdict must be unanimous unless the parties to the lawsuit agree on that the verdict may be something other than a unanimous verdict.  For obvious reasons, the defense will rarely agree to such a proposal.

 

I Was Uninsured and Caused a Car Wreck. Now I Am Getting Sued by Other Driver's Insurance Company. Help!

I ran a red light four months ago and hit another car.  The other driver was not hurt.   It cost the other driver $3200 to get his car fixed.  He asked me to have my insurance company pay it and I told him I didn't have any insurance on my car at the time.  Now his insurance company is suing me.  What's up with that?

You caused a wreck and you are responsible for the harm and damages you cause.  You were lucky you only caused property damage and not a personal injury, but you are responsible for reasonable cost of fixing the car and for loss of use of the car while it was being fixed.

The other driver's insurance company paid because you did not have insurance.  This insurance company now has a right to seek reimbursement from you.  This is called "subrogation."

Most insurance companies will work out a payment plan with you.  If you do not feel comfortable negotiating with the insurance company you will need to hire a lawyer to help you.  Do not ignore this - is is very unlikely to just go away.

By the way, you need to get some car insurance.  Tennessee law requires it, and if you had insurance in place at the time  your insurance company would have made this payment for you.

Some Lawyer Called Me About My Car Wreck

I was in a car wreck last week.  I was hurt pretty bad.  I got home from the hospital last night and a lawyer called me and said that he wanted to represent me in my case.  I have no idea who this guy is or how he got my name and telephone number.  Nobody in my family has ever heard of him.  Can he call me like this?  Should I hire him?  He said he could get me a lot of money.

This lawyer is a scumbag - not only should you not hire him but you should report him to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.  Rule 7.3(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct says this about soliciting a potential client by telephone:  "(a) If a significant motive for the solicitation is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain, a lawyer shall not solicit professional employment by in-person, live telephone, or real-time electronic contact from a prospective client who has not initiated the contact with the lawyer and with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship."  The Comment to the rule explains why is exists:

[1] There is a potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person or live telephone contact by a lawyer with a prospective client known to need legal services. These forms of contact between a lawyer and a specifically targeted recipient subject the layperson to the private importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The prospective client, who may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult fully to evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment and appropriate self-interest in the face of the lawyer’s presence and insistence upon being retained immediately. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and overreaching.

A lawyer who engages in this conduct is subject to various types of discipline and, in fact, risks loss of his or her license to practice law.

So, why should you care?  I mean, you just need a lawyer, and if the lawyer has undertaken the initiative to seek you out, didn't that just make your job easier?

Here is why you should care.  Every law student is taught that this lawyer cannot do what he did. The prohibition is reinforced in legal seminars for practicing lawyers.  So, you have to ask yourself these questions:  If a lawyer is willing to violate the rules of the profession to get my case, why should I believe that he will follow other rules that are designed to protect my interests?  Why should I believe that he will honestly communicate with me?   Why should I assume that a cheater will only cheat once?   Why should I take the risk that he might cheat me?  Why should I take the risk that he might try to cheat my opponent, get caught and hurt my case?

So, don't hire a lawyer who calls you out of nowhere trying to solicit your case.  Instead, read our legal guide "Understanding How to Hire a Lawyer in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases" to learn about the factors you should consider in determining what lawyer to hire for your case.

 

Can I Make the Other Driver Responsible for My Medical Bills for Life?

I was hurt in a car wreck.  My back and leg were injuried.  I don't need surgery right now but who knows what will happen 10 years from now.  Can I settle my case for my medical bills, my lost wages, and my pain and suffering and an agreement that the at-fault driver will pay my future medical bills if I have any?

You can try, but in 29 years as a lawyer I have never seen the argument work.  If the at-fault driver's insurance company believes that its driver is at fault and they want to settle the case, they want to settle all personal injury-related claims at one time.   (They will usually settle property damage claims seperately.)   They will not agree to leave open the issue of future medical expenses.

Thus, if a doctor says you will probably need a future surgery because of the injuries you sustained in the wreck, the cost of that surgery and related damages can be part of settlement negotiations.  If the doctor says that future surgery is possible, then the amount of the possible surgery cannot be included.  If there is a trial, the court will allow testimony only on whether a future surgery is probable and, if a doctor says it is, then the court will allow presentation of evidence on the cost of the surgery and related damages.

I hasten to add that worker's compensation cases are different and, in those cases, it is very common that the employer bears the responsibility of paying future medical bills related to the injury even after a settlement or trial.  Be sure to ask your worker's compensation lawyer what responsibility the employer will have for your future medical bills before you accept any settlement proposal.

I Might Need Surgery!

I was hurt in a boating accident.   It was the other guy's fault.  The doctor said that as I result of my injuries I might need knee surgery one day.  Can I recover damages for the cost of that surgery?

You can recover damages for a future surgery only if a doctor says it is reasonably likely to occur.  If the surgery is merely possible or might happen, the law of Tennessee does not permit you to ask a judge or jury to award damages for the cost of that surgery.

How Quickly Will My Case Settle?

I was in a car wreck about 6 months ago.  The other driver admitted fault.  My medical bills are about $25,000.   I have been released by my doctor.  My lost wages are $2000.   How quickly will my case settle?

At the outset you need to understand that your case may not settle at all.  In Tennessee the insurance company does not have a duty to settle your case and in fact does not even owe you a duty to fairly evaluate your case.    It can settle a case, or not settle a case, on whatever schedule it wants to put in place.

However,  if the insurance company wants to settle the case it needs to have information from your lawyer.  At an absolute minimum, the company needs the accident report, your medical records and bills, perhaps some of your previous medical records, proof of lost wages from your employer, and an understanding of how the injuries have impacted your life.  To the extent you claim a permanent injury, future medical expenses, future loss of earning capacity, or other damages, the insurance company will need proof of that.

Lawyers communicate this information by way of a settlement demand.   All of the relevant information is gathered and the important information is highlighted in a letter.  In our office we attempt to gather all of this information before your are released from your doctor (except the final office note) and have a demand package ready to go to the insurance company within thirty days of when medical treatment is complete.  Lack of cooperation from one of the providers of information will affect our ability to get the demand package out on time.

Insurance companies always ask for more time to evaluate the demand package.  Then, the negotiations start and those can last several weeks even if everyone agrees that the case should be settled.

So, the short answer to your question is there are too many variables to say if your case will be settled and how quickly it will be settled.   It is fair to say that a case cannot settle if your attorney does not promptly gather and exchange information with the insurance company.  This is yet another reason to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who will aggressively pursue your rights.

There Was No Guardrail and I Went Off the Mountain!

I was driving in East Tennessee.  A big truck came over the center-line into my lane and I swerved to avoid it.  I lost control and went off the mountain.  My friend who was in the car behind me saw the whole thing.  He told me that I went through a hole in the guardrail and that the hole had been caused by another wreck nine months earlier that the State of Tennessee had never repaired.   What are my rights?

First, if you can identify the trucking company and truck driver you would have a claim against them for crossing the center-line and forcing you off the road.

Second, even if you can't identify the trucking company, you may have a uninsured motorist claim that you can assert against your own insurance company.  Tennessee law permits you to make a claim on your own insurance when an unknown driver (called a "John Doe" driver) negligently causes a wreck.  The fact that your friend saw the wreck is critical to being able to prove this claim.

Finally, you may have a claim against the State of Tennessee for negligent failure to maintain the guardrail.  The validity of this claim will depend on whether the State had notice that the guardrail was missing.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine what rights you have.  Remember than under Tennessee law most personal injury claims must be filed in court within one year of the date of the wreck causing your injuries.

 

Should I See A Doctor About My Injuries?

I was in a car wreck yesterday.  I thought I was ok but I woke up this morning and feel absolutely horrible.   Should I go to the doctor, or should I just tough it out?

You should see your doctor and accurately report the nature and extent of your concerns.   Call and make an appointment to get in and see the doctor as soon as you can.

Why?   There are three reasons.  First, your doctor may uncover a problem that is more serious than you think it is.  

Second, your doctor may prescribe some sort of treatment or therapy that will help you heal faster and minimize the impact of the injury on your life.  

Third, in the event that your physical problems continue the at-fault driver's insurance company will expect to see prompt consultation with a doctor about your problems.  The failure to promptly see a doctor may lead the insurance company to conclude that you were not hurt in the wreck or at least not seriously hurt.   More importantly, a jury may see it the same way.  Remember, the burden is on you to prove that the injuries you claim you had occurred as a result of the wreck.   And, whether it is fair or not, jurors (and insurance companies) are more likely to link the injuries to the wreck if prompt medical attention is sought.

Can a Sibling File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

My brother got killed in a car wreck.  Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit for him?

You can file a wrongful death lawsuit for your brother under only limited circumstances.  First, if you are named the executor of his will you have the right to file suit.  Second, if the court names you the administrator of your brother's estate you will have the right to file suit.  Third, if you brother was not married, had no children, and your parents are dead you would be considered "next of kin" and you would have a right to file suit.  

The right to file suit is different from the right to control the litigation. For instance, if your brother was married and his wife is competent, it is very possible that a court would let your sister-in-law control the lawsuit even if you were named executor of your brother's estate.

The right to file suit is different than the right to receive any money that results from a wrongful death lawsuit.  For example, under Tennessee law, a sibling will receive proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit only if the decedent was unmarried, had no children and was predeceased by his parents.

All of this can get a little complicated.  An lawyer who has experience with wrongful death claims can guide you through the process.  Under Tennessee law, you should assume that a wrongful death claim must be filed within one year of the date of the injury that later results in death unless and until a lawyer familiar with all of the facts tells you that you have more time.

What Happens If the Person That Hurt Me Dies?

I was hurt in a head-on automobile accident.  The driver that crossed the centerline and hit me died in the wreck.   Do I have legal rights against him even if he is dead?

Yes.   Although you can't sue someone who is dead, you can sue his estate.   If an estate is not opened for him, you (through your lawyer) can petition the court to have an estate opened so that you can sue it and collect the monies you are entitled to recover.

The fact that the person who hit you died does not relieve his insurance company of the obligation to defend the case and pay the monies to you that you are entitled to receive under the law (up to the liability insurance policy limits). 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to help you through this process.   Remember that in Tennessee a personal injury claim must be filed against the responsible people within one year of the date of the accident.   Under these circumstances you will need act even more promptly than usual because the lawyer you hire will need to do extra work to get an estate opened for the decedent so that suit can be filed within one year of the date of the accident.

What Are My Rights When I Was Hurt in a Car Wreck While I Was Working?

I was running an errand for my employer last week and was in car wreck.  The other driver ran a red light and broad-sided me.  My car was totaled and I spent three days in the hospital.  What are my rights?

You have two potential claims.  First, you have a worker's compensation claim because you were injured in the course of employment (assuming your employer has five or more employees).  

Second, you have a claim against the driver of the other car.  This is called a "tort" claim.

Since your injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization, you almost certainly could benefit from the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.    This lawyer will be able to help you receive the benefits you are entitled to receive under the worker's compensation law and under tort law.

To preserve your worker's compensation claim rights be sure that your employer has notice that you were in the car wreck.  It is best to give notice in writing.   If the tort claim is not settled, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of the wreck or your rights with be lost.  The time period for filing a worker's compensation claim is dependent on your medical treatment - an experienced lawyer can advise you of when you must act to protect your rights after he or she has been advised of your treatment course.

Should I Give A Statement to the Insurance Company?

 I was in a car wreck last week.  I  spent five days in the hospital and am now recovering at home.  I am getting a couple calls a day from the insurance adjuster for the driver that hit me.  The message he left for me is that he wants to take a statement from me about how the wreck happened.  Should I talk to him and give him a statement?

We do not recommend that our clients give a statement to the other driver's insurance company.  There are several exceptions to this general rule, but even then we do not permit our clients to give a statement without adequate preparation for the interview.

We do not prepare our clients by telling them what to say or encouraging them to lie.  In fact, just the opposite is true:  we encourage our clients to tell the truth about the circumstances giving rise to the wreck, the nature and extent of their injuries, and everything else.   Preparation is necessary because insurance adjusters are trained in asking questions, and may ask questions in such a way that the unprepared witness will make mistakes.   These statements are almost always tape-recorded and can be used against the person in court.

Thus, I recommend that you talk to a lawyer before giving a statement.   

Why Didn't the Person Who Hit Me Get a Ticket?

My car was t-boned at a local intersection.  The guy that hit me ran the red light - and admitted that he did so - but he police officer didn't even give him a ticket!  Why was the guy not given a ticket?  Did the other driver pay the police officer off?   

No, the other driver did not pay off the police officer.  Police officers have discretion about when they write a ticket, and sometimes they simply choose not to do so.  I must confess that I don't always understand why tickets are issued in some cases and not in others, but I think it highly, highly unlikely that a police officer would take money not to write a ticket.

The fact that no ticket was written will almost certainly not hurt your case, especially if the police report indicates that the other driver admitted fault.   A statement by a police officer in a police report that the other driver admitted fault will carry a lot of weight with his insurance company as it decides whether or not to promptly resolve the claim.

Can Police Accident Reports Be Used as Evidence of How the Wreck Occurred at Trial?

The police accident report says that I was not at fault in my wreck and that the other driver was at fault.  Can I used the police report as evidence at a trial to prove the wreck was not my fault?

Not in Tennessee state court.  A rule of evidence specifically excludes police accident reports from the types of public records that can be admitted into evidence at trial to show how an accident occurred.

Why?  Because unless the officer actually saw the accident the police report is only the officer's opinion about what happened.  That opinion may be based on solely on whether the officer believes one person or the other and may have little value in determining what actually happened.  

A police officer who see a wreck can be asked to testify about what he or she saw.  He or she can also be asked about what the people involved in the lawsuit said after the wreck and about measurements taken at the scene of the wreck.   But the police report cannot be introduced into evidence absent extraordinary circumstances, whether the officer is there or not.

The Other Driver Doesn't Have Enough Insurance!

I was in a bad car wreck.   I had $50,000 in medical bills and missed eight weeks of work  (I make $800 per week as a mechanic).   I am probably going to have to have another surgery.  My doctor also says I will have arthritis for the rest of my life.   I just found out that the person who hit me only has $100,000 of liability insurance.   That is not enough for what he did to me.   Can I force the person who caused the wreck to pay me out of his pocket?

A person or company is always liable for all of the harm they negligently cause.  A person purchases insurance to reduce his or her own risk of coming out of pocket to pay for that harm, but if the harm caused exceeds the amount of insurance purchased he or she is liable for the rest.  

The problem, of course, is collecting from a person who causes harm.  To make a payment to the injured person over and above the amount of insurance the person who causes harm must have assets, income, or both.   Many people have very few assets and insufficient income to make a payment to the person who they hurt.   If pressed, these people will often just file bankruptcy and the bankruptcy court will discharge the obligation.   (There are some exceptions to this.  For example, the bankruptcy court will not discharge the lawsuit-related obligation of a drunk driver or a person who intentionally harms another.) 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you evaluate the factors you should consider in determining how hard to press the defendant to make a personal contribution over and above the liability insurance policy available for the claim.

Can A Father Who Did Not Pay Child Support Recover Money When His Child Gets Killed in A Car Accident?

My child was killed by a drunk driver.   He was 10 years old. I want to file a lawsuit.  His no-good father, who never paid child support as ordered by the court and did not visit my son for the for the five year period after our divorce, says he is going to file a lawsuit, too.   Can he do that?  Does Tennessee law permit him to get money from the death of our son when he had nothing to do with our son when he was alive?

Unless you have some physical or mental health issue that you have not mentioned, you will have the right to bring the lawsuit. 

Tennessee law provides that a parent who has a parent who has intentionally refused or neglected to pay any support for a child for a two-year period, or for the life of the child, whichever is less, when subject to a court order requiring the payment of child support and who has intentionally refused or neglected to contact the child or exercise visitation during such period is not permitted to recover damages for the death of the child.  Thus, to cut off the father's right to money out of any recovery you make, you will have to demonstrate that (a) there was a child support order; (b) the father intentionally did not pay for at least 2 years; and (c) he intentionally did not visit the child.

At an absolute minimum you will be able to recover your unpaid child support.  Tennessee law provides that parent cannot recover damages from a wrongful death suit  until all child support arrearages have been paid in full to the parent ordered to receive the support (plus interest).    Thus,  if your child's father had visited your child within the last two years or but had not been paying child support he would have to re-pay you out of the any portion of the money he was entitled to receive.

An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate through these issues.

Truck Wrecks in Tennessee

I was hurt in a truck wreck, and someone told me that truck drivers and trucking companies have special rules to follow.  Is that true?

Yes.  In addition to the normal rules of the road (stopping a stop signs, driving the speed limit, etc.)  truck drivers and trucking companies have a large number of federal regulations and state laws that they must follow.  These special laws are designed to make our highways more safe.  

To learn more about this subject, read our Legal Guide called "Understanding Truck Wrecks in Tennessee."

Should I Settle My Case on My Own?

 I was hurt in a car wreck last year. I having been talking with the other driver’s insurance company and they tell me that they are going to make me a settlement offer. How much time do I have to file a lawsuit in the event I don’t get the case settled on my own?

In Tennessee you ordinarily have one year from the date of a car or truck accident to file suit against the responsible parties. Do not assume you have more time unless a lawyer familiar with all of the facts advises you that you have more than one year.  Failure to file suit on time will result in a loss of your rights.

However, you should not wait until the eve of the one-year deadline to contact a lawyer. A lawyer needs time to conduct an investigation and do the paperwork necessary to file a lawsuit.

Finally, it would be a mistake to assume that it always makes sense to try to settle a case on your own and hire a lawye only r if you could not get a settlement worked out. First, valuable evidence may well disappear in the days and weeks following an accident. Second, you will be negotiating with a experienced claims representative and attempting to place a fair value on yourself without any experience on how to do so. You may be seeking too much money for your claim – or too little.   Third, settlement of a car accident claim frequently requires work with health insurance companies and health insurance providers to finalize the claim.  

Hiring a Lawyer for an Out-of-State Accident

I was in Chicago and riding in a taxicab that got hit by another driver from Chicago. I spent four days in the hospital in Chicago and have been continuing to see a doctor in Tennessee. What rights do I have? Do I have to go to Chicago to hold the people who hit me responsible?

People in other states have to follow the same basic rules as drivers in Tennessee, and they are responsible for the harm they cause if they are negligent in the operation of their vehicle.

However, usually a lawsuit for such claims must be brought in the place where the accident occurred or where the other driver resides. (There are some exceptions to this rule – an experienced personal injury lawyer can tell you if the driver or the driver’s employer can be sued in Tennessee.)

We have helped Tennesseans who have been hurt in other states (and Canada) and could not sue the person who harmed them in Tennessee. In these cases, we investigate the facts and the law and work to resolve the case without filing suit. If the case cannot be settled for a fair amount, we work with a lawyer from the city and state (or country) to file suit and proceed with the case. We share the fee we would otherwise charge with this lawyer and the total fee is the same as if we were able to file the case in Tennessee. We have relationships with lawyers around the country who can work with us in these cases.

How to Persuade My Kids to Stop Texting While Driving?

My daughter refuses to stop texting while she is driving.  I know it is unsafe, but she won't stop.  What do I do?

I was listening to the Kim Komando show recently and she identified some great software packages for cell phones that could prevent a teenager (or anyone else) from receiving or sending texts or call while a vehicle was moving.  Check it out here.

The  life you save could be your daughter's.

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About John A. Day

I am a fifty-three year old lawyer who is fascinated by the law of torts. I have studied the field for over twenty-nine years. I represent plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

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