April 2012 Archives

I was injured in a Tennessee car accident and my doctor says I have degenerative disc disease in my neck. Can I still recover for my injuries?

As a Tennessee injury attorney, I have handled many cases where someone injured their neck in a car accident. These types of injuries can be associated with headaches, soreness, stiffness, arm pain and weakness. This is a common injury from a car wreck because the head and neck and not protected in a collision and take the force of the impact. For some, the pain goes away with rest, medication and physical therapy.

Sometimes, after a car wreck your doctor will order an MRI of the neck ("cervical spine") if the pain does not go away. It is very common for the results of that test to show degenerative disc disease (sometimes listed a "DDD"). Insurance companies may use this condition to argue that you had this problem all along, well before the car collision. Many doctors will agree that degenerative disc disease is not caused by an automobile accident but rather due to age, like arthritis.

One study I have seen suggests 85 percent of people will have evidence of degenerative disc disease by age 50. Indeed, as we age, depending on activity levels and genetics, we all are subject to this condition. However, the key differential in an injury case is the fact that most people with DDD have no symptoms, no pain and no disability. A motor vehicle collision or work injury can aggravate, advance and make this condition worse. It can make it painful where there was no pain before. The impact can aggravate the condition to the extent that other medical treatments are necessary including traction, therapy, epidural steroid injections and even surgery.

In Tennessee, we have a specific jury instruction for pre-existing conditions. The at-fault driver is responsible for the pain and disability caused and made worse by the collision. Therefore, even if, like most people, there was DDD in the spine before the collision, the Defendant is responsible for the harm caused by the car accident. If there was no pain nor disability before the accident, the at-fault driver should not get credit for a dormant pain-free condition that is normal with age.

If you were in a car wreck or injured on the job in Tennessee and your doctor tells you have degenerative disc disease, then you need a personal injury attorney who knows the law in this area and understands how to educate a jury about why you are in pain. I have handled these types of car wreck cases in Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Nashville and all over Middle Tennessee. I am available to speak with you or we can meet for a free consultation about your rights. Call our office at 615-256-8880 or visit my personal injury attorney website at www.lrwlawfirm.com.

I was in a car accident but the other driver does not have enough insurance. Now what?

Automobile accidents happen every day all across middle Tennessee. Unfortunately, many drivers involved in Tennessee car wrecks carry minimal or no liability insurance. These situations require an experienced car accident attorney. Tennessee insurance law requires a driver to only have at least $25,000 for injury and $15,000 for property damage. So, what does that mean for someone who is severely injured in a Nashville car accident by careless driver without enough insurance?

Many insurance policies include uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage. Tennessee's uninsured motorist law provides protection to drivers and/or passengers injured in an auto accident where the at-fault driver carries minimal or no insurance. In such an accident, the injured party's insurance carrier should pay for damages such as pain and suffering, health care expenses and medical bills, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of wages that the injured party could recover from the at-fault driver.

An insurance company cannot increase your insurance rates or cancel your coverage due solely to the payment of any claim under uninsured motorist coverage. With the cost of medical care, a weekend stay in the hospital can cost more than $25,000.00. Add to that lost wages, rehabilitation and physical therapy, the bills can easily exceed the coverage. That is why uninsured/underinsured policies are so important.

If you are involved in an automobile wreck in Middle Tennessee, it is important for you to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Nashville personal injury attorney Jonathan Williams has experience representing individuals that are injured by drivers that carry little or no car insurance. Contact Jonathan Williams today at (615) 256-8880 or visit www.lrwlawfirm.com if you have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision.

Inexperienced driving can lead to tragic car wrecks

Many of our Nashville injury attorney blog posts focus on the dangers of distracted driving in Tennessee. One cause of distraction is basic inexperience behind the wheel. The Tennessean reported today on the dangers teenage drivers face by highlighting the story of a young lady who was seriously injured in a Brentwood car wreck. Regarding Tennessee car crashes, the paper reports:

Tennessee has a 15 percent fatality rate for drivers ages 16 to 17 who are involved in crashes -- the 12th-highest in the nation, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's a problem across the South because of its winding rural roads, scarcity of trauma centers and love of vehicles not built for safety. Not all public high schools here offer driver's education classes, and many teenagers don't abide by age-specific rules to prevent wrecks.

The article highlights this link from the CDC a webpage focused on injury prevention and motor vehicle safety. In order to combat injuries and deaths from automobile collisions, the CDC recommends a graduated driver's license program, prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving, requiring teenage passengers to wear seatbelts and stricter enforcement of DUI laws.

In Tennessee, drivers of all ages are required by law to use "due care" when driving. Our "Rules of the Road" law requires, regardless of the speed limit, that every driver exercise due care by operating the vehicle at a safe speed, by maintaining a safe lookout, by keeping the vehicle under proper control and by devoting full time and attention to operating the vehicle, under the existing circumstances. Drivers are required by law to avoid endangering life, limb or property and to see and avoid colliding with any other vehicle or person, or any road sign, guard rail or any fixed object.

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