Motorvehicle crashes can happen in only a matter of seconds but crashes have the power to change lives forever. We never expect accidents to occur. We never plan for them. Most of us think that it will never happen to us. This can leave us with overwhelming uncertainty and without the financial means necessary to pay for the medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
If you’re injured in Tennessee due to another’s negligence, whether it be a car or commercial truck crash, medical malpractice, or injury due to a dangerous condition on another’s property, you’re may need to file a personal injury claim. Sometimes filing a claim is the only way to best ensure that you receive the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, make up for lost wages, and heal.
The first part of filing a personal injury claim is knowing how the insurance process works. Tennessee uses fault auto insurance. This means that the insurance company of the at-fault driver should pay for any damages incurred in the accident. However, the at-fault driver’s insurance has a contract with their insured, not with you—the injured party. As such, the at-fault insurance will not likely pay anything towards medical expenses, lost time from work, or other expenses for your bodily injury, until your case is ready to be resolved in full. This means that you typically have to undergo all the medical treatment that you need to heal as best you can before you can expect to receive any compensation from the at-fault insurance company. This can be incredibly difficult, particularly if you do not have medical insurance or other means to obtain the necessary care for your injuries.
In these circumstances, you may need to rely upon your own automobile insurance, assuming you have paid a premium for underinsured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist coverage. Navigating through the laws applicable to underinsured motorist insurance can be incredibly difficult and you may want to speak with a Tennessee Auto Crash lawyer to better understand the process.
There may be more than one driver who is determined to be at fault in a vehicle accident. Under Tennesee’s modified comparative fault rules, an injured party may still be able to obtain compensation for damages if they are found to share less than 50% of the responsibility for the accident.
For example, let’s say that a driver was at a stop sign. After coming to a complete stop, they turn left without signaling and another driver runs the stop sign, ending in a collision. The first driver then files a personal injury claim against the driver who didn’t stop.
If the jury determines that the driver who ran the stop sign is 85% at fault for the crash, while the plaintiff is determined to be 15% at fault (the percentages must add up to 100% between all drivers responsible), then the judge will reduce the jury’s damages verdict accordingly. Thus, if the plaintiff is then compensated $20,000 for damages, the judge would then reduce the damages by the percentage of fault allocated to the plaintiff. In this hypothetical, the total verdict would be reduced by 15% to the sum of $17,000.
It’s essential to act fast when pursuing your personal injury claim. In auto crash claims, Tennessee’s statute of limitations only allows an individual 1 year to file a claim. However, before you conclude that your case is barred by the statute of limitations, you should speak with one of our lawyers. If the driver that caused the crash faced criminal charges for his or her conduct, your statute of limitations may be extended to 2 years. Even so, it is best to speak with a Tennessee auto/truck crash lawyer before relying upon this extension.
Other types of personal injury cases, such as medical malpractice, have their own set of rules that apply to determine when the limitations period begins and ends. You should always speak with a knowledgeable attorney about these limitations period early after an injury.
An injured party may be awarded compensation for various damages in Tennessee personal injury claims, including:
- Economic damages. This includes medical bills, lost wages, future lost wages, property damage, damage to personal property, cost of adaptive housing, and the cost of the value of the spouse’s household services.
- Other damages—sometimes referred to as ‘non-economic damages’. This includes pain and suffering, emotional distress, psychological injuries, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
For certain types of damages, there are caps for the amount of compensation one may be awarded in a personal injury claim. The limits on damages in Tennessee are:
- Economic damages: No cap
- Non-economic damages: $750,000 per person
- Non-economic damages in catastrophic injury cases: $1 million per person
If you need help understanding your rights, or if you have questions about filing your personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Haynes Firm for seasoned legal representation. We understand that an auto or truck crash can leave you feeling like your world is turned upside down. We want you to know that you are not alone in this process.
Our compassionate attorneys come prepared with the knowledge and experience you need to ensure you receive the full compensation you need to heal.
The Haynes Firm is here for you. Contact our firm at (423)451-4999 for help pursuing your personal injury claim.