June 17th, 2013
This is the final installment of our four-part blog post covering many of the questions, concerns and issues that face motorists when they are involved in a collision in Tennessee. Our goal is to arm injury victims with basic information so that they do not inadvertently compromise their case. While we also invite you to review the prior installments of this blog post, the best way to learn about your specific situation is to speak with an experienced Nashville car crash lawyer.
What does mitigation of damages denote and why does it matter?
When you file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries or property loss, you have a legal duty to “mitigate” damages. Mitigation refers to taking reasonable steps to prevent escalating the damages you experience. This can be a tricky area because there are medical procedures that you may be required to undergo while others may not be necessary to fulfill your obligation to mitigate damages. For example, you may be expected to undergo a non-invasive screening recommended by your physician, but you may not be expected to agree to invasive surgery with legitimate medical risks. Because of the complex nature of this responsibility, you should ask your attorney about any medical procedures that are being recommended by your physician that you do not plan to allow.
Can I recover damages in a personal injury action if I am responsible for causing the accident?
Tennessee is a modified comparative fault state which means that you cannot recover compensation if you are fifty percent or more at-fault for causing the collision. However, you can recover if you are less at-fault than the other party, but your recovery will be reduced in an amount proportional to the degree of fault assessed to you by the jury or judge. The issue over what percentage of fault should be assigned to each party is often a significant disputed matter in Tennessee personal injury lawsuits so you should legal advice immediately if you suffered injuries in an accident but are concerned that you may be at least partially at-fault. Our Nashville personal injury law firm uses car accident reconstruction experts and others with specialized knowledge that may have a different opinion regarding fault in your car accident case.
How should I proceed if I am involved in a motor vehicle accident in Nashville or the surrounding areas of Tennessee?
The top priority if you are injured in a motor vehicle collision is to obtain prompt medical care. This includes following through on all suggested diagnostic tests, attending all medical appointments and completing any course of treatment or rehabilitation. This will both promote a better medical outcome and create an evidentiary record on the issue of damages in your motor vehicle accident lawsuit. It is also a good idea to have someone gather evidence, including taking photos, getting witness contact information and securing any debris that comes off your vehicle during the collision. While the other driver’s insurance company may attempt to contact you, it is usually advisable to put off talking to the negligent driver’s insurance company until you have retained legal counsel to handle these communications.
Our experienced Tennessee auto collision attorneys diligently protect our clients’ interests, investigate car accidents resulting in injury and seek the best possible outcome for our clients. The experienced Nashville motor vehicle collision lawyers at the Nahon Firm are committed to helping injury victims obtain the financial means to move past their accident and rebuild their lives.
June 14th, 2013
In this third installment of our multi-post blog covering key issues relevant to drivers involved in collisions in Tennessee, we continue providing a general overview of the important information you should know if disaster strikes while you are navigating the roads of Nashville or surrounding areas of Tennessee. We also invite you read the other parts of this multi-segment blog post.
Will the person who caused the collision be responsible for my auto repairs and rental car expenses?
The party who causes a collision in Tennessee while driving in a manner that poses an unreasonable risk of causing a car crash generally will be legally responsible for vehicle repair costs or replacement less depreciation. If the cost of repairing the vehicle is relatively close to the cost of replacement, the vehicle will be deemed “totaled,” which means that you will receive the fair market value of the vehicle at the time the collision occurred. When it comes to a rental car, you are entitled to damages for “loss of use,” but this can be a complicated issue. Insurance companies often have existing relationships with particular rental car services which give them substantial discounts. If you go to the rental car agency of your choice and rent a luxury vehicle, the insurance company may balk at paying this bill. The best option is to let your Tennessee personal injury attorney assist you in handling this issue.
What should I do when the other driver’s insurance company attempts to contact me about the auto accident?
The best practice is not to discuss the case with the other driver’s insurance company until you have legal representation by a top Tennessee personal injury law firm. Conversations often are recorded so statements made at the time that seem innocuous can later turn out to be detrimental when taken out of context. Representatives for insurance companies may use what is discussed during your conversation to fashion defense strategies, embarrass a claimant or indicate that a victim is lying about the extent of his or her injuries.
Why do I need a car accident injury attorney if the law enforcement accident report indicates that the other driver caused the collision?
While the official police report on the accident will be important, it is not necessarily dispositive on the cause of the accident. There may be evidence or witnesses that was not available or identified at the time the initial report was prepared. A single witness or piece of evidence can drastically change the conclusion about who caused a traffic accident. The insurance company will have crash reconstruction experts carefully analyze the report, accident scene, vehicle damage and witness statements to develop other theories of liability. Sometimes the insurance company will actually argue that the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit was actually the cause of the accident or that the plaintiff contributed to his own injuries. Depending on whether the jury accepts this claim, the insurance company may obtain a defense verdict or reduced recovery.
Our experienced Tennessee auto collision attorneys diligently protect our clients’ interests, investigate car accidents resulting in injury and seek the best possible outcome for our clients. The experienced Tennessee motor vehicle collision lawyers at the Nahon Firm are committed to helping injury victims obtain the financial means to move past their accident and rebuild their lives.
June 13th, 2013
This is the second installment in our multi-part blog on key factual and legal issues that every motorist should know if they are involved in an auto collision in Tennessee. We invite you to review both Part I and the subsequent installments of this blog if you have other questions.
How soon following a car crash do I need to file a lawsuit?
The Tennessee statute of limitations that applies to personal injuries arising out of car accidents is one year from the date of the collision. Although there are some exceptions, they are very narrow so you should obtain legal advice from an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney before assuming that your situation is covered by any particular exception. The statute of limitations is not something to taken lightly because failure to file your complaint within the statutorily required time will almost invariably be a complete bar to your lawsuit no matter how legitimate your legal claim or the seriousness of your injuries.
Can I contact the other driver’s insurance company but wait to get a lawyer until I determine if they are going to cooperate?
This answer to this question depends on whether your focus on what you are permitted to do or what is in your best interest. There is no chance the insurance company is going to just roll over and pay you the full value of your claim – this is just not how insurance companies are designed to handle legal claims. Insurance carriers spend millions of dollars each year to develop legal, factual or a practical basis to deny or underpay insurance claims. While you can wait, there are many critical errors that can compromise your claim if you delay obtaining legal representation. Sometimes an experienced personal injury attorney can correct the damage, but there is no guarantee that your Nashville personal injury lawyer will be able to “unring the bell.”
If I hire a personal injury attorney when the insurance company is being fair and reasonable, I am afraid that I will simply create hostility and postpone settlement of my claim?
It is very dangerous to be deceived by an insurance adjuster who is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you have ever watched a crime drama where the police officers are friendly and sympathetic right before announcing to a suspect that he is under arrest and slapping on handcuffs, you have the basic idea. Insurance company representatives are looking for valid defenses and grounds to argue for reducing damages so they are not on your side no matter how amicable they may act.
How will my medical bills get paid while I am waiting for my claim to settle?
There are multiple sources that may cover your injuries, which include your medical insurance and/or the medical benefits component of your auto coverage. Generally, these amounts must be reimbursed from your financial recovery when you reach a settlement or obtain a judgment against the negligent driver. This process of reimbursement is referred to as “subrogation.”
Our experienced Tennessee motor vehicle crash lawyers diligently protect our clients’ interests, investigate car accidents resulting in injury and seek the best possible outcome for our clients. The experienced Tennessee car crash attorneys at the Nahon Firm are committed to helping injury victims obtain the financial means to move past their accident and rebuild their lives.
June 12th, 2013
While no one expects that when they leave home to drive to work or to take their kids to school that they will become the victim of an alcohol impaired or distracted driver, our experienced Nashville auto accident attorneys know that many people are injured or killed every day in collisions throughout Tennessee involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractor-trailers, bicycles and pedestrians. Based on the National Highway Safety Traffic Association (NHSTA) Fatality Accident Report (FARS) system, there are over a thousand people who die in Tennessee motor vehicle accidents in a typical year. Tragically, many of these fatalities are highly preventable because they are the direct result of drivers engaging in hazardous driving behavior. More than half the fatalities that occur in a single year in Tennessee car accidents involve drivers that are under the influence of alcohol, speeding or both. We have provided answers to some of the common questions we receive about Tennessee motor vehicle accidents.
If the other driver is determined to be at-fault, why can’t I just file a claim with his insurance company?
The primary objective of insurance companies is to maximize their profitability for shareholders. This goal is not accomplished by simply paying out the amount owed on a valid claim. Adjusters and other representatives of insurance companies recognize that they have a huge advantage when dealing with an injury victim that does not have legal representation. Unrepresented parties involved in auto collision claims may fall into a broad range of traps that can jeopardize their insurance claim, such as:
- Failing to obtain prompt diagnosis and treatment for injuries
- Missing medical appointments or not following through on treatment regimens or rehabilitation
- Posting damaging information on social media sites
- Providing damaging admissions in recorded or written statements
- Executing a release to obtain medical and employment records beyond what is appropriate
- Non-compliance with critical deadlines like the statute of limitations or lack of compliance with required legal procedures, evidentiary rules or legitimate discovery requests
While this is only a handful of examples of ways that an injury victim can compromise his or her accident claim when dealing with an insurance company without legal representation, it should make it apparent how easy it can be to make a serious mistake.
What legal obligations do drivers owe others on the roadways of Tennessee?
All motorists in Tennessee have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care when driving their motor vehicle to prevent causing injuries or fatalities involving other vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians. This responsibility includes obeying Tennessee rules regarding speed limits, safe turns, traffic signs and signals, impairment by intoxicating substances and other traffic safety laws. Three of the most preventable types of driving conduct that drivers are expected to avoid include drunken driving, distracted driving and speeding.
Our experienced Tennessee auto collision attorneys diligently protect our clients’ interests, investigate car accidents resulting in injury and seek the best possible outcome for our clients. The experienced Tennessee car wreck lawyers at the Nahon Firm are committed to helping injury victims obtain the financial means to move past their accident and rebuild their lives.
June 11th, 2013
A new study conduct by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provides further evidence that hands free technology may not be making drivers, passengers and pedestrians safer when traveling the roadways of Tennessee. The study is unique because it is the most extensive analysis of the impact of mental distractions on driving ability conducted to date. Manual and visual distractions have been studied extensively so current legal restrictions on drivers, such as hands free only restrictions, text messaging bans and similar prohibitions have focused on these types of distracted driving. However, the new study makes clear that hands free does not equal risk free.
While the study was aimed at evaluating the impact of the increasing use of voice activated technology in new vehicles, it also evaluated a range of other mental distractions to evaluate how engaging in multiple mental tasks simultaneously might adversely impact drivers. The researchers found that as drivers engage in cognitive multi-tasking, their actual brain functioning is “compromised,” which results in diminished reaction time and delayed perception of potential hazards. The authors of the study suggest that this mental impairment could lead drivers to fail to identify or respond to hazards like pedestrians, traffic signals or other vehicles directly in the path of their vehicle.
The study constituted a collaboration between the AAA Foundation and the University of Utah, which is a prominent source of distracted driving research. The researchers lamented the danger of what they call an impending “arms race” among vehicle manufacturers to stock vehicles with every piece of communication technology without regard for the potential impact on the mental attention of drivers. As cognitive distraction expert David Strayer put it, “Any function that can be put in the car is being put in the car without a full examination of whether it should go in the car.”
The study specifically concluded that the shift to voice to text applications to make phone calls, text messaging and use of Facebook hands free did not eliminate the risk posed by drivers whose mental attention was divided between multiple cognitive operations at the same time. Participants in the study were asked to perform eight different tasks while “driving” a simulator. The researchers evaluated eye movement, brain activity and other metrics as drivers engaged in replying verbally to an email, engaged in cell phone conversations and listened to the radio or an audiobook. There was a direct correlation between a driver’s perception of hazards and mental response time and the division of attention between multiple mental operations.
Our experienced Tennessee auto collision attorneys diligently protect our clients’ interests, investigate distracted driving accidents resulting in injury and seek the best possible outcome for our clients. The experienced Tennessee cell phone distraction auto accident attorneys at the Nahon Firm are committed to helping injury victims obtain the financial means to move past their accident and rebuild their lives.
June 10th, 2013
Motorcycle wrecks usually result in much more serious injuries than other types of vehicle accidents on the roads of Tennessee. Broken legs, head injuries or road rash can be financially and physically challenging, forcing many accident victims and their loved ones into debt. In contrast to what some motorists may believe, most motorcycle crashes are not caused by motorcycle riders. Instead, the majority of accidents result from car drivers engaging in the dangerous habits of speeding, distracted driving, or driving while impaired.
If you or one of your loved ones is a motorcycle rider and have been hurt in an accident, contact the Nahon Firm at 615-324-2000 as soon as you can. Our lawyers are experienced in motorcycle accident personal injury claims and always view or clients with respect and compassion. We know how tough it can be for a client to cope with a severe injury while trying to pay skyrocketing medical bills. In some cases, motorcycle accident injuries will render the victim unable to work, which then accelerates financial hardships.
The experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at the Nahon Firm are aware that many collisions are due to a lack of motorcycle awareness among the general motoring public. When a car or truck driver fails to look closely enough and spot a motorcycle, the results can be a serious accident for the rider. In far too many of these wrecks, the injuries are sometimes fatal, even if the rider was wearing a helmet and protective gear.
There may be personal injury lawyers who are skeptical when it comes to protecting the rights of an injured rider. But at the Nahon Firm, we are firm believers in the rights of all those on the roads of Tennessee. When a negligent motorist winds up causing a motorcycle wreck and resulting injuries, our experienced personal injury lawyers are available to help you recover compensation that you deserve. Injuries such as facial fractures or broken arms are no less painful and debilitating when suffered in a motorcycle wreck rather than a car wreck. Our firm will fight for your rights to see that you are compensated fairly for the injuries you or your loved one has endured. Traffic laws are in place that requires the negligent motorist to pay for injuries, lost wages, motorcycle repairs and other property damage.
Because crash site information can sometimes get harder to find if too much time goes by after your accident, don’t wait too long to reach out to the Nahon Firm. We’ve been there for our clients in motorcycle accident injury claims for over 30 years. Give us a call at 615-324-2000 and put our experience to work for you.
June 7th, 2013
Most passenger cars weigh around 5,000 pounds, so it’s not hard to see why they see the worst of the damage in a collision with an 80,000 pound truck. Devastating injuries and death are too often the unfortunate result. Research on commercial vehicle accidents in Tennessee shows that over 1,700 motorists died from 1994-2005. The number of fatal commercial truck accidents rose 21 percent over the years of the study. The alarming increase shows that while trucks serve a critical role in business, accidents with life-changing results happen all too frequently.
If you or someone you know has been hurt in a crash involving a large commercial vehicle, seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Nahon Firm. If the accident resulted from the negligence or impairment of a truck driver, our firm is here to fight for your rights in court and win compensation for your suffering, recovery time, and lost income.
Most successful accident claims get started with a thorough examination of the crash site. In some cases, the Nahon Firm uses accident reconstruction specialists to take photos, get details from police, and interview witnesses. Other potentially important information comes from truck driver logs, shipping schedules, and on-board data recorders from the truck. We’ll also review the medical records from your injuries and consult with medical experts if necessary.
Large commercial trucks, with their own teams of lawyers, accident specialists, and insurance agents, are out to minimize their losses. They waste no time in protecting their own interests, so don’t wait too long before calling 615-324-2000. Trucking companies are required by federal law to carry at least $750,000 in insurance coverage. But negotiating with insurance agents over compensation can be difficult and time-consuming. They may try to deny your claim, or deny responsibility for the crash and your injuries. In the event the trucking company does accept responsibility for the accident, their insurance agents might contest the severity of your injuries.
At the Nahon Firm, our staff understands the complications of a personal injury claim against large truck companies and their insurance agents. For more than 30 years, we’ve been fighting hard to win the compensation our clients need for the traumas they’ve suffered. We view all of our clients with respect and compassion, so don’t hesitate to call 615-324-2000. If your injuries are so severe that you cannot travel, then we can meet at the hospital or your home instead.
June 6th, 2013
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics show that deaths and injuries from large commercial truck accidents take an annual $43 billion toll on the national economy. About 4,000 people nationwide perish each year in truck-related accidents, and another 70,000 or so suffer injuries. Here in Tennessee, the fatality rate averages about 140 each year. Shocking statistics like these emphasize the importance of raising truck safety awareness among the driving public.
If you have been injured or if someone close to you died in a commercial trucking accident caused by the negligence of the trucking company, the Nahon Firm can help you get the compensation that’s right for you. Our lawyers are well-versed with the many regulations that govern the trucking industry, and understand how to find violations. Despite the rules for hours-of-service, maintenance, load weights or alcohol testing, there are still irresponsible trucking companies causing serious traffic accidents. Pressured by a tough economy and low freight rates, some carriers have to cut corners on maintenance to keep their trucks loaded and moving. But when those trucks are past inspection or rolling on worn out tires, the risk of accident and injury increases significantly.
With the weight and size difference between large trucks and passenger cars, it’s no surprise that those in the smaller vehicle are usually hurt the worst in a crash. Of those who survive a commercial truck accident, many suffer debilitating injuries that take months or even years to heal. Loss of income for truck accident victims is also common, which only makes the doctor bills even tougher to pay. To get through such a difficult experience, a truck accident lawyer can help you win compensation for your losses.
An experienced commercial truck accident lawyer will understand the challenges you’re facing because of injuries or accidental death of a loved one. Issues brought on by stress and financial hardship can grow even worse over time. By contacting the Nahon Firm to talk about your case, you are taking an important first step. To speak with one of our staff, call 615-324-2000. We can review the specifics of your commercial truck accident and advise on your best course of action. Clients of the Nahon Firm are viewed with compassion and respect, and our 30 years of experience in commercial truck accidents cases is ready to go to work for you. From collecting accident scene reports to negotiating with the trucking company and insurance agents, we’ll fight for your rights in the courtroom.
June 5th, 2013
While boating season is an exciting time to explore the state’s waterways and engage in recreational water sports, it is also a time when accidents involving boats and personal watercrafts peak. Boating accidents pose unique risks because of the limited handling associated with operating a personal watercraft (PWC) or boat and the frequency with which people consume alcohol while partying on the reservoirs lakes, rivers and other waterways throughout Tennessee.
The Memorial Day weekend usually marks the beginning of boating season in Tennessee, and there has already been multiple boating accidents involving injuries though we are only a few weeks into the boating season. Thousands of people are injured and hundreds more are killed in boating accidents across the U.S. each year. While there is no absolute way to prevent injuries or fatalities caused by those who operate boats irresponsibly or engage in drunken boating, you can improve the odds by obeying basic boating safety practices and abstaining from alcohol while out on the waterways.
Another important precaution that can prevent a boating collision or other mishap on the water from resulting in serious injury or wrongful death is to always wear a life vest. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Authority, almost 85 percent of those who drown in a boating accidents are not wearing life vests.
Arguably, the operation of a boat or PWC under the influence of drugs or alcohol is even more dangerous than a motor vehicle. Chemical impairment slows reaction time in terms of steering to evade a collision or braking when operating a car, truck of SUV. However, the time required to safely turn, slow or stop a boat is substantially greater because boats are relatively sluggish in terms of how they react, and they do not have brakes. The fact that the risk is no less when operating a watercraft under the influence of an intoxicating substance like drugs or alcohol explains why the law treats each with similar punishments, including incarceration, significant fines and loss of driving privileges.
If you are involved in a boating or PWC accident, you should seek immediate medical attention and contact the TWRA. Tennessee law requires that any boat operator involved in a boating accident within the state complete an accident report. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you should keep any wreckage or parts that break off the boat and take photos of vehicle damage or injuries. When you speak to an officer investigating the incident, you should indicate any actions by the other operator that you believe were responsible for causing the boating accident.
Our experienced Tennessee boating accident attorneys diligently protect our clients’ interests, investigate boating accidents resulting in injury and seek the best possible outcome for our clients. The experienced Tennessee PWC accident attorneys at the Nahon Firm are committed to helping injury victims obtain the financial means to move past their accident and rebuild their lives.
June 4th, 2013
While most drivers in Nashville and throughout Tennessee are aware of the potential danger posed by drivers who are operating a semi-truck, car or SUV while under the influence of an illegal narcotic or alcohol, many do not give a second thought to driving after taking a prescription medication or over-the-counter drug. However, there are many legal drugs that can impede one’s ability to drive just like an illegal drug or alcohol. When a driver causes an accident because the driver is drowsy after taking a sleep aid or antihistamine, the driver may face both criminal and civil liability.
It is a common misconception that DUI laws that impose criminal penalties on intoxicated drivers treat those driving with a lawful prescription or with a readily available OTC drug differently than more typical DUI cases involving alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine or other controlled substances. However, there is no legal distinction in terms of DUI law because drivers who operate a motor vehicle after ingesting any form of intoxicating substance may be subject to the criminal penalties for DUI.
Generally, civil liability may also be imposed despite the fact the intoxicating substance is a legal drug. However, the issue is whether a reasonable person knew or should have known that it was unsafe to operate a vehicle after taking the prescription or OTC medication. If the drug is not properly labeled or no advisory is proved by the pharmacist or packaging, this evidence may impact whether the adverse impact on one’s driving made the accident foreseeable.
This is more than a hypothetical issue because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year called on pharmaceutical companies that manufacture sleep aids to provide more safety information to consumers warning of the risks of operating heavy machinery when under the influence of the medication. The FDA also called on the manufacturers of sleep aids to consider reducing the amount of the active ingredient in prescription sleep aids because of mounting evidence that many drivers are still affected by sleep aids when they drive the following morning. The FDA expressly indicated concerns about Ambien and its generic form zolpidem.
In addition to these concerns about prescription sleeping aids, the FDA has now expressed concerns about the risk that allergy medications may cause car accidents related to drowsiness. If you are involved in a car accident with a driver who is under the influence of any form of alcohol or drug, whether legal prescription drug, OTC or unlawful narcotic, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and financial loss.
Our experienced Nashville drug impaired accident attorneys diligently protect our clients’ interests when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. The experienced Tennessee texting accident attorneys at the Nahon Firm are committed to helping injury victims obtain the financial means to move past their accident and rebuild their lives.