Nashville is famous for many things. Nicknamed Music City, it’s home to country, and bluegrass music, and generations of stars, from Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift. It’s also one of the busiest tourist hubs in America, boasting cultural and historical attractions, such as the Frist Art Museum and The Hermitage. But like every other city, Nashville is no stranger to personal injury.
From January to September 2022, Tennessee’s capital city clocked 107 fatalities from motor vehicle accidents. A former Nashville nurse accidentally killed a patient with a medication error.
While people make mistakes, most personal injury cases are due to negligence and, therefore, preventable. On this premise, the law guarantees protection for all victims by giving them the right to sue for damages.
You could file for damages if you or your loved one sustains an injury due to another party’s negligence. A competent Nashville personal injury lawyer can ensure you get fair compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
To help you defend your rights, visit The Personal Injury Center. We offer free legal resources to help you find information and the right Nashville personal injury lawyer for your case.
Featured on Galligan Law
“In order to determine if you have a successful case, you need to have an accurate definition of medical malpractice law. First, it is a branch or tort law, or personal injury law, that relates to injuries caused by substandard, or low-quality medical care.”
Read the article here.
What is personal injury law?
Personal injury or tort law compensates people who suffer injuries caused by the actions of others. It ensures negligent parties pay for the consequences of their irresponsible acts. As a civil case, a victim files a personal injury lawsuit against the party at fault. In a criminal case, the state acts as the plaintiff and prosecutes the defendant.
Types and categories of personal injury cases
Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and medical malpractice are usual types of personal injury cases. However, there are many more, including the following:
- Product liability. These are cases involving injuries or property damages due to faulty products. One example is a truck accident caused by a defective tire.
- Premises liability. Someone injured on another’s commercial or residential property can file a premises liability claim. These include dog bites, slip-and-falls, etc.
- Workplace accidents. Tennessee employers may or may not be obliged to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, even those required to do so are not immune from workplace accident lawsuits.
- Aviation accidents. Aviation accident cases involve unique circumstances. Hence, special laws govern them, such as the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act.
- Maritime accidents. As with aviation, maritime accidents involve special laws like The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Death on High Seas Act.
It’s easy to list the most common personal injury claims in Nashville or even the US today. But listing all types of cases may be impossible.
Consider the 2005 case of two teenage girls who had to pay $900 in damages for anonymously delivering homemade cookies to a severely anxious neighbor. This is proof that anything can happen, and any case is possible.
It helps to understand the four categories of personal injury claims to know whether one has a case for personal injury:
- Bodily injury. Anyone who suffers physical harm caused or exacerbated by another’s actions can file a lawsuit.
- Financial injury. Anytime someone’s negligence threatens or significantly devalues a person’s economic stability or property, it qualifies as an injury. For example, if you lose money because your financial adviser mismanaged your investment portfolio, you can sue for damages.
- Injury to reputation. Speaking or writing about a person or brand in a way that harms their reputation is a valid basis for a lawsuit. Libel and slander are subcategories of defamation and fall under this category of personal injury.
- Intentional injury. This category covers injuries caused by one party’s gross negligence or deliberate misconduct. These include battery, assault, drunk-driving injuries, etc.
Statute of limitations
All states have statutes of limitations or legal deadlines for filing lawsuits. In Tennessee, the rule is one year, one of the shortest in America. It applies to all personal injury lawsuits arising from negligence or intentional torts.
However, the court may extend the deadline in some instances. Here are some exceptions to Tennessee’s one-year statute for personal injury cases:
- Injury victims below 18 years old: The year-long statute begins on the child’s 18th birthday if the victim is a minor.
- Out-of-state defendant. The court temporarily suspends the statute if the defendant is not in Tennessee.
- Filing of criminal charges. The statute is two years for personal injury lawsuits with a criminal component. A sample scenario is when the at-fault driver beats up the other driver after a car collision. Battery is a felony in Tennessee, so the at-fault driver faced criminal prosecution.
The court generally dismisses personal injury lawsuits filed after the statute. When this happens, the plaintiff cannot recover damages for their injuries and losses.
Comparative Fault and Damages
Tennessee follows the comparative fault doctrine when deciding on personal injury cases. Consider a vehicular accident where three drivers are found liable. An investigation reveals that Drivers A, B, and C are responsible for 30 percent, 20 percent, and 50 percent, respectively.
Note that in Tennessee, a party can only claim damages if they are less than 50 percent liable for the accident. Hence, Driver C will not be entitled to any compensation. However, Drivers A and B will receive 70 percent and 80 percent of their recoverable damages, respectively. If only two drivers are involved in an accident, and both are found equally liable, no one collects damages.
Compensatory damages reimburse victims for their physical and mental suffering from the accident. These damages can be economic, non-economic, or both.
Economic damages cover a victim’s financial expenses related to the accident. There is no cap on how much a claimant can receive if they can prove their material losses. Economic damages cover costs such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages, past and future
- Property damage
- Related miscellaneous costs (gas costs, ambulance fees, etc.)
Non-economic damages compensate accident victims for their non-material losses after an accident, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Tennessee has no cap for economic damages, but limits non-economic damages to $750,000. This means an accident victim can only receive up to this amount for non-material losses.
However, there are exceptions to this cap. These include cases where the tort was intentional or the defendant deliberately destroyed evidence to escape liability.
Suppose the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In that case, the cap also ceases to apply. Another exception concerns accidents in which the victims suffered catastrophic injury. In these cases, the cap for non-economic damages is $1,000,000.
Tennessee classifies the following as catastrophic injuries:
- Paraplegia and quadriplegia
- Amputation of both upper and lower extremities
- Third-degree burns affecting at least 40 percent of the body
- Wrongful death
Note that Tennessee’s cap on non-economic damages is cumulative. The court will apportion the total award to lawsuits among multiple defendants according to their percentage of fault. However, the total amount should still be within the cap.
Punitive damages are solely meant to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future. Not all US states award punitive damages, but Tennessee does with some limits. Punitive damages cannot be more than twice the compensatory award, or $500,000, whichever is greater.
However, establishing negligence is not enough for a judge to award punitive damages to a plaintiff. Courts will consider particular elements of the case, including the following:
- Defendant’s financial circumstances
- Impact of the case on the victim
- Relationship between the plaintiff and defendant
- Defendant’s awareness of the potential harm while causing it
- Whether the defendant profited from the harm caused
- Any corrective actions taken by the defendant
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Make a Difference
No law prohibits accident victims from representing themselves in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, legal representation has many benefits; it all begins with finding the right lawyer.
What a personal injury lawyer can do
People expect lawyers to know everything about the law. However, attorneys that specialize in personal injury law have specific skills. These include the following:
- Investigate and collect evidence. Accident lawyers have the training and experience to investigate accident scenes and look for vital evidence. This may involve interviewing witnesses, obtaining CCTV footage, gathering medical and police reports, employment documents, etc.
- Compute damages. With their experience with personal injury cases, an attorney can accurately determine the value of a victim’s claim. However, they usually work with other experts, such as medical doctors and psychologists. The purpose is to assess the extent of the victim’s physical and mental injuries and estimate the potential medical expenses and other treatment costs.
- Negotiate with other parties. Personal injury claims typically involve negotiations with insurance companies, and lawyers are adept at this. They know how to scrutinize insurance policies, especially the fine print, ensuring fair compensation for the victim. With insurers’ reputation for lowballing settlement offers, lawyers are particularly crucial in this aspect of the claims process.
- Handle the legal process. Filing a personal injury claim requires extensive documentation, such as witness depositions, demand letters for insurers, etc. Improper preparation of these documents can jeopardize a victim’s chances of getting maximum compensation.
- Represent you in court. The defendant’s attorney can easily manipulate an accident victim who comes to court without legal representation. With their lawyer, a plaintiff can protect their right to claim damages and even increase their chances of receiving the highest possible compensation.
Choosing a personal injury lawyer
Nashville has many personal injury lawyers, but not all are right for every accident victim. Here are tips on finding the right attorney or law firm for your case:
- Personal injury specialty and track record. Practice areas can vary among personal injury lawyers, depending on the specific types of cases they’ve handled. The right lawyer for an accident victim is someone with years of experience with similar cases and a stellar track record of success.
- Legal organizations. Active membership in legal organizations is a common sign of a personal injury lawyer’s commitment to the profession. Inquiries can be as simple as filling out a contact form on these organizations’ websites.
- Professional reputation. Researching the reputation of a personal injury law firm or lawyer is easy nowadays. Online client reviews, testimonials, and even a quick phone call to a law office or bar association can help. In any case, it’s wise to avoid a lawyer with a record of disciplinary action or client complaints.
- Communication and chemistry. Communication is crucial between a lawyer and a client. Unless the lines are reasonably open, an accident victim might find it wise to hire a new attorney. Choosing a lawyer that you like is also essential. When people work amicably together, they can usually achieve more.
Visit The Personal Injury Center for a Free Evaluation
The possibility of an accident is always there. It pays to know you have recourse to the law when you sustain losses through no fault of your own. If you ever sustain injuries because of another person’s negligence, you have the right to claim damages.
Whether you broke your leg in a car wreck or lost money in a failed investment, you can recover economic and non-economic damages. If someone intentionally harmed you and you can prove it, you may even receive a punitive award.
However, filing a personal injury case requires legal expertise, especially when dealing with savvy insurers or clever defense attorneys. You can protect your rights with a Nashville personal injury lawyer advocating for you.
You can get fair compensation for your case by hiring a personal injury attorney. The Personal Injury Center can help you find the right attorney for your case through our free consultation form.
FAQs on Nashville Personal Injury Lawyer
How much are personal injury lawyers paid in Nashville?
Nashville personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid for their legal services if they get you a fair settlement or win your court case. They get nothing if they fail to get compensation for you.
In Nashville, contingency fees are capped at one-third of the total recovery. This is true for all other cities in Tennessee, such as Memphis, Goodlettsville, Franklin, Clarksville, and Lebanon.
Can I file a claim if I feel fine after an accident?
Yes, you can file a claim regardless of how you felt at the time of the incident. Traumatic events can cause an adrenaline rush in the body, momentarily muting pain sensations. Because symptoms may appear much later, seeking medical attention is always wise.
Some delayed symptoms that can indicate a potentially serious injury, especially brain injury, are headache and neck pain. Hence, accident victims should always assume the worst to protect themselves, including their health and right to damages.
What does "release" mean in a settlement?
Accepting a cash settlement from a defendant requires you to sign a document known as a release. By signing it, you waive your rights to future legal claims against the defendant, their insurer, and other parties mentioned in the release. Only sign a release or liability waiver after consulting a Nashville personal injury lawyer.