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My neighbor got upset with me because I complained to the police about her loud music.  She came over, started arguing, and beat me up with baseball bat.   The police have arrested her and charged her with aggravated assault.   I suffered two broken fingers,  a broken arm and have incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills.   Can I sue her?

Yes.   Your lawsuit is for the tort of "battery."   You can seek damages for medical bills, lost of earnings and earning capacity, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability and disfigurement.   Because the acts of your neighbor were intentional, you can also seek punitive damages.

The problem in this type of case is recovering damages.  Winning a case is one thing, but actually being able to collect money is quite another.   Most people who go around hitting people with baseball bats don’t have any money to pay for the harm they cause.

Q. What does it mean when a lawyer is “board certified?”

A.  Just like doctors can be “board-certified” in surgery or pediatrics or a large number of specialties, lawyers can choose to seek board certification in several different areas in the law.

There are several civil trial certifications available in Tennessee – civil trial specialist, medical malpractice, legal malpractice and family. A civil trial specialist must (a) have a demonstrated level of experience in trying civil cases; (b) pass a written examination  that covers certain aspects of civil law, evidence, and ethics; (c) receive positive recommendations from judges and attorneys that he or she has tried cases against; (d) have a good  disciplinary history.  The attorney applies for civil trial and family trial certification with the National Board of Trial  Advocacy, a division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.  Medical and legal trial certification is available from another group.

If a Tennessee attorney is certified by this group, the attorney must then apply to the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization Commission for certification in Tennessee.   The Tennessee Commission imposes additional requirements, including professional liability insurance and client recommendations. 

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