Frequently Asked Questions
After a serious accident, victims and their families are often left without the means to cover the necessary costs associated with the recovery process. Under such circumstances, many people turn to personal injury attorneys to file a personal injury claim. Below, our Memphis personal injury attorneys have collected answers to some of the questions we are approached with most often. To learn more about how our Memphis personal injury attorneys can help you, please call our offices at (866) 537-1881 today.
Am I eligible to make a personal injury claim?
If you were injured as the result of another’s negligence or recklessness, you are likely eligible to file a personal injury claim. Furthermore, as a state with modified comparative negligence laws, you may even be able to file a personal injury claim if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident so long as you are not found to be more than 49% responsible. Whatever the circumstances happen to be, a personal injury attorney can help you evaluate your situation and determine if you are eligible to take legal action.
Why should I file a personal injury claim?
As you begin to recover from your injuries, the financial burden associated with that recovery process will become more apparent. If you sustained your injury as the result of another person’s negligence or recklessness, however, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim to pursue financial compensation for the costs you were forced to take on, thus lessening the financial burden associated with your accident.
Will it ever be too late to file a personal injury claim?
From the moment you learn that you have sustained an injury, you typically have a single year to file a personal injury claim in Tennessee. Otherwise known as a statute of limitation, you will likely not be able to file a lawsuit for the injury if you do not file a personal injury claim within that single year. With that in mind, you should consult with a personal injury attorney at your earliest possible convenience to begin developing a legal strategy while you still have the ability to do so.
What damages will I be able to recover with a personal injury claim?
Though the circumstances of every case will have a direct bearing upon the type of compensation that you may recover with a personal injury claim, there are a few general rules to these claims. Under most circumstances, accident victims are eligible to recover financial compensation to help cover the cost of things like medical and rehabilitative care, any loss of income, and property losses. Furthermore, accident victims may be eligible to recover compensation associated with the emotional damages they sustained as the result of the accident.
What evidence will be useful for me as I pursue my claim?
Virtually any piece of evidence you can produce that corroborates both your case and the extent of your injuries will likely be critical to your case. For instance, you might want to collect the following pieces of evidence if you were hit by a truck driver while you were driving your car: a copy of the police report, a copy of any medical evaluations you underwent, copies of the bills associated with the accident, and photographs of the accident itself. However, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to better anticipate the evidence you might need to collect to better pursue your particular claim.
Can I just pursue my claim by myself?
While you certainly can pursue a personal injury claim without the help of an attorney, you may severely weaken your own chance of resolving the claim in that manner you intend. Since the party that you will be pursuing your claim against will almost certainly be represented by an experienced attorney, you will be forced to navigate some of the more nuanced aspects of the law on your own—a fact the other attorney will try to capitalize on. To have the best opportunity to represent your interests, then, you should at least consult with an attorney to learn more about what he or she can do for you.
How long will I have to wait to resolve my claim?
Since the challenges of every case will be unique to the client, we have no real way of determining exactly how long the claims process may take. Depending on the circumstances, for instance, it may be more beneficial for you to take an out-of-court settlement and resolve your case quickly. Under different circumstances, though, your interests may be better served by taking your case to trial, which will take considerably longer to resolve. In any case, our team will be there with you every step of the way to help ensure that your interests are comprehensively represented until a resolution is achieved.
Will I need to testify in court?
There is a possibility that you will need to testify in court should we choose to take your case to trial. Before you ever have to take the stand, however, our attorneys will work take plenty of time to help you prepare for your testimony. Aside from helping you feel more comfortable, we make sure that you feel capable of clearly and completely representing your interests as you provide this critical information to the court yourself.
What costs should I expect to face following an auto accident?
The costs associated with auto accidents vary on a case by case basis, but if you have been involved in a serious car accident and have been injured, you might be facing various out-of-pocket expenses. These might include fees related to medical treatment, physical therapy, medication, vehicle repair, and vehicle replacement. Fortunately, you may not be held responsible for these expenses. If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by the reckless or negligent behavior of another party, you can seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim.
Will I still be able to pursue a claim that I was partially at fault for?
As a modified comparative fault state, you will be capable of recovering compensation for your accident only if you were less than 50% at fault for the accident. Though you may be able to recover compensation if you were 49% at fault for the accident, the amount of compensation you recover will reflect that number. For example, if you sustained $100,000 in damages in the accident, you could only be awarded a maximum of $51,000 after it was adjusted to reflect your comparative fault in the matter.
What can I do to prepare for my legal consultation?
Since these first meetings with potential attorneys will be your best chance to find an attorney that is best suited to you and your case, you should take special care to prepare for each of your consultations. First and foremost, you should make a list of things that you want from any attorney you choose to work with; by doing so, you will be able to generate questions about the aspects of your case that are most important to you. Once you have a good idea about what you expect from your attorney, you will be in a better position to evaluate the experience and qualifications of any potential attorney.
How will negligence be determined?
The court will closely examine the alleged misconduct of the defendant to determine whether he or she may be found to have acted negligently in your case. To establish negligence, the court will seek to determine one of two things: 1) whether the defendant acted outside the established standards of society; or 2) whether the defendant failed to act as any other reasonable person would. However, to be held financially liable for the accident, the actions of the accused party will need to meet all requirements for tort law.
When should my boss report my work-related injury or illness to the insurance company?
According to the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act, employers must submit all work-related injuries or illnesses which they have been informed about or are aware of within one working day of finding out about the injury or illness. Insurance carriers or employers who are self-insured should file a claim as soon as possible, but must file no later than fourteen days of finding out about an illness or injury.
What kind of injury or illness is eligible for workers’ compensation?
Any injury or illness that occurs at work or is caused by the workplace environment and (1) prompts an employee to seek medical treatment outside of the workplace, (2) causes the employee’s death, (3) causes the employee to miss work, or (4) causes the employee to sustain permanent damage must be reported under the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act.
What should my boss have done when I became ill or injured?
After an injury occurs in a Tennessee workplace, the employer is responsible for filing a claim within one working day of learning about the injury, providing the injured employee with a list of at least three doctors chosen prior to the incident, and submitting various paperwork that ensures that all parties involved receive the necessary information throughout the entire process.
What is a class action lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit involves one or more persons suing on behalf of a group of persons, also known as the class. In order to file a class action lawsuit, two things must be true: all members of the class have the same complaint, and the number of persons affected is too large for every individual to appear before a court.
What is the difference between an opt-in lawsuit and an opt-out lawsuit?
Opt-in and opt-out lawsuits are two types of class action suits. In opt-in actions, individuals who feel that they have been victims of the defendant must notify the judge of their wish to be included in the lawsuit. Opt-out actions automatically include all known consumers or victims in the class, and individuals who do not wish to be involved must then notify the judge.
What happens if a person dies before his or her personal injury lawsuit goes through?
If the plaintiff dies as a result of injuries caused by the accident, his or her heirs may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death claim. Typically, the surviving family members will be able to seek compensation for damages such as funeral expenses, loss of wages, physical and mental suffering, and more. If a plaintiff in a personal injury claim dies from causes that are not related to the accident, the claim can usually be brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased, however it will not turn into a wrongful death claim.
What is the difference between a civil and a criminal case regarding a person’s death?
Civil cases typically involve disputes brought forward by a private party. Criminal cases, on the other hand, are brought forward when the government seeks to penalize an accused criminal. As the penalties for criminal convictions are generally more severe, such as imprisonment, the burden of proof is higher for these types of cases; whereas civil cases typically result in monetary penalties for the defendant.
I slipped and hurt myself while on someone else’s property. Can I file a claim?
You may be eligible to file a premises liability claim against the owner of the property. In order to file a successful claim, you will have to prove one of three things:
- The property owner or an employee caused the factors that led to your fall,
- The property owner or an employee knew about the factors that led to your fall and did not act to warn you about or resolve them, or
- The property owner of an employee should have known about and resolved the factors that led to your fall.
Proving one of the above circumstances can be difficult, but an experienced attorney will know exactly what to look for in these cases.
What kind of compensation can I receive for a slip and fall accident?
If you are injured in a fall on someone else’s property and you are able to prove negligence on behalf of the property owner, you are entitled to recover lost wages, medical costs, and compensation for any additional pain and suffering caused by the accident. Additionally, pursuing litigation against the negligent party may lead them to enact more effective safety protocols in the future, thereby saving others from the harm that befell you.
What is a structured settlement?
In structured settlements, plaintiffs are not given the full compensatory amount up front. Structured settlements are usually reached in situations where smaller payments will benefit both the recipient and the provider through tax breaks. Structured settlements may also be reached in cases where a parent or guardian sues on behalf of a minor. Payments may be made to trust accounts or second parties in order to be held until the minor comes of age. These types of agreements may be a good choice to those who will suffer long term financial injury as a result of the accident for which they have filed suit as well.
The insurance company has asked me to sign a release. What does this mean?
Generally speaking, a release is a legal document that prohibits you from seeking any additional compensation beyond the amount offered in the settlement. If you sign a release too soon and other injuries related to the accident arise, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying for those injuries. It is very important for you to think carefully before signing a release, and ensure that you have given your body enough time for every potential injury to manifest and be treated before closing your claim. An experienced attorney can help you determine the value of your case and whether or not it is in your best interest to agree to a settlement.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are additional costs that go beyond compensation for medical bills or pain and suffering. These are usually awarded as a way for the court to punish the defendant for intentional misconduct or extremely negligent behavior and discourage him or her from acting similarly in the future. In considering whether or not to assign punitive damages, a jury will look at the defendant’s financial worth, among other factors.
Do I have a valid medical malpractice case?
You may have a valid medical malpractice claim if you have suffered harm or injury at the hands of a medical professional who failed to live up to the standards of his or her profession. In order to prove medical malpractice in court, you will need to prove the following:
- That your medical care provider failed to live up to the standards of their profession
- That harm or injuries you suffered were a direct result of this failure
Expert testimony from other medical professionals is the most acceptable method of providing this type of evidence in court cases.
Does misdiagnosis count as medical malpractice?
In some cases, a misdiagnosis is an example of medical malpractice, but this is not always so. Unfortunately, medicine is not always a clear cut science. Malpractice laws require medical professionals to meet a specific standard of care when it comes to diagnostic practices, but will not always hold these professionals liable if these practices fail to identify the true cause of an illness.
Can I file a medical malpractice against someone other than a doctor?
Yes. Every licensed professional who provides health care must adhere to specific standards and practices when it comes to treating their patients. Failure to do this is unacceptable, and could constitute a legitimate medical malpractice claim, regardless of what position the negligent medical professional occupies. Additionally, in some instances, victims can even sue hospital administrators if they can demonstrate that negligence or carelessness on the part of these individuals was the cause of their eventual injury or suffering.
How is “neglect” defined by the court in nursing home abuse claims?
Neglect is defined as the failure of the nursing home facility to provide food, healthcare, or protection to a resident. There is a potential for these types of claims to become somewhat tricky, as it will have to be determined whether the mistreatment was intentional, constituting abuse, or accidental, constituting neglect.
What events will a complaint of neglect from a nursing home resident trigger?
When a complaint is filed with a nursing home, that nursing home is required to address the issue promptly. Tennessee Adult Protective Services may then step in and investigate any claim of neglect.
Additionally, the resident’s family may consider filing a legal claim to compensation against the nursing home.
What should I do if I suspect a loved one of being neglected in his or her nursing home?
If you suspect neglect, your suspicions should immediately be reported to the nursing home administrator. If you fear that your elderly loved one is in immediate danger, contact the police and remove the threat right away. Once you have ensured that your elderly loved one is safe, you can feel free to contact an attorney that can help you pursue financial compensation from the negligent party.
How can I qualify for Social Security Disability or Social Security Income?
SSD and SSI applicants have to prove that they are dealing with a serious medical condition that impairs, hinders, or limits their ability to function to a point that maintaining gainful employment is not an option. To do this, applicants must complete a number of forms and provide certain documentation to the Disability Determination Services (DDS), where their application will be reviewed and their claims will be evaluated with a five-step process.
How do I go about applying for SSD or SSI benefits?
Filing for SSD or SSI benefits can be a complex process. This is combined with the fact that minor errors in your paperwork may be enough of a reason for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to deny your claim. For this reason, a thorough and complete understanding of what the process entails will be your best tool for completing and submitting a strong application. While you will have a claims representative assigned to your application who will be there to help you through the process, you may benefit more from a dedicated Social Security attorney who will make the success of your application his or her priority. A lawyer who deals with Social Security claims will be able to answer your questions and walk you through every step of the process.
What if my SSD or SSI application is denied?
If your claim is denied for some reason, you still have the option to appeal the decision. You will have 60 days after receiving the denial letter in which to submit the paperwork for an appeal. Once you take this step, your case will be turned over to a new department for review. There are four levels of SSD and SSI appeals:
- Hearing by an administrative law judge
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Federal Court review
Any requirements of you during the appeals process will depend on the reason for denial and the specifics of your condition.