If you or a loved one has been injured by another party's negligence, you might have a personal injury claim and could be eligible for compensation for damages relating to your injury. Filing a personal injury claim is complicated; there are deadlines to follow, insurance companies to deal with, and liability rules to consider. The Law Offices of Luvell L. Glanton can help you through the process.
The First Steps After the Injury
If you have been injured the first step you should take is to seek medical attention. This is an important step even if you do not think you were injured not only to assure you own safety, but also to create legal proof of your injuries. The quicker you seek medical attention the more reliable your claim for damages will be. Failing to seek medical attention can result in denials from insurance companies and payment for your injuries.
In the days and weeks following the injury it is important to keep records of all costs related to the injury. This can include medical bills, lost wages, and any property damage. Make note of the effects the injury has on you, does your back hurt every day? Can you no longer drive yourself to work? Are you anxious or experiencing flashback of the accident? Keeping this record will help calculate the non-economic costs of the injury—things like pain and suffering, not just physical bills—and ensure fair compensation for your injury.
Tennessee is a shared-fault state, meaning if it is determined that the victim is partially responsible for the injury then the victim will also be partially responsible for the payment. For example, if the total economic and non-economic damages for an injury were valued at $100,000, and the victim was found to be 20% responsible for the injury, then the victim would be responsible for $20,000 of the costs for her own injury, and the perpetrator would be responsible for $80,000, or 80%, of the costs for the injury.
If the victim is found to be more than 50% responsible for the injury, then she loses all right to compensation.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney and the Claims Process
While some people choose not to hire an attorney for some minor claims, the personal injury claim process is complicated and sometimes lengthy, and people can lose out on compensation if they do not know how to handle their case. An experience personal injury attorney will have the expertise you need to get the best possible results for your case.
Once you find and attorney who agrees to take your case, the attorney will begin filing the initial court papers. The attorney will file an official “complaint” with the court on behalf of the client (or plaintiff). The defendant will be notified that they are being sued. The defendant will answer the summons, usually agreeing or denying the claim, and the case with begin.
The attorney will begin the complicated process of “discover” or fact-finding. There are a lot of rules that dictate which facts are admissible for a case. Usually attorneys will complete the discovery through interrogatories, depositions, expert testimony, requests for admissions, independent medical examinations, and requests for documents related to the case.
Many cases do not make it to the settlement or trial phase because the claims are dismissed. Claims can be dismissed because the claim cannot be decided in court, because the claim is not a legal matter, or because a party failed to make a court appearance.
Most cases are resolved through a settlement without going to trial. Choosing a settlement over a trail case will depend on the facts of the case, and whether the plaintiff will receive fair compensation through the settlement. If a settlement can not be reached, the case will go to trial where it will be decided by a jury.
Time Limits for a Personal Injury Case: The Statues of Limitations
Every state has a time limit or “statute of limitations” that defines how long a victim has to file a case to receive compensation for damages related to an injury.
Tennessee code § 28-3-104(a)(1) sets the statute of limitations at one year after the injury for personal injury claims. After one year the victim loses the right to file a claim, and can never recover damages for the injury. Claims against government employees have special rules, including a 90-day deadline to appeal claims that were denied compensation.
Compensation Caps on Damages
Tennessee does not have a cap on the economic damages—which includes things like medical bills or property damage— that can be awarded. But the state does currently have a cap on non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Currently the state caps non-economic damages at $750,000. The limit can go up to $1 million if the loss or injury was “catastrophic.” A lawsuit was filed against non-economic damage caps in the state, but no concrete decision was made. The damage cap can still change.
If an injury was the result of extreme negligence, the state can also impose “punitive damages” on the negligent party that serve to punish the party for level of negligence.
Tennessee Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to another party's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. An experienced attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injury.
The Law Offices of Luvell L. Glanton is dedicated to fighting for clients' rights and helping clients through the difficult legal matters after an injury. Luvell L. Glanton is a skilled attorney who understands the complexities of personal injury cases.
To learn more about how our office can help you with your case, call our office today at (615) 244-4511 and schedule a free consultation.