Nashville Injury Attorneys Blog

Articles Posted in Car accidents

As some of you may know my wife Megan has suffered from RSD/CRPS since August of 2012 after a surgery. We encountered doctors that do not understand this disease. We struggled to understand it ourselves. Luckily, we found some great physicians and therapists who went out of their way to help Megan. Unfortunately, many people struggling with CRPS do not have the understanding, diagnosis, resources or connections to fight it.

Megan has joined a national effort to make November 2, 2015 “Color the world orange day.” The color orange is a reference to the fire-like burn that CRPS patients feel. She asked the Governor to proclaim, like in other states, November 2, 2015 “Color the world orange day” to spread awareness of this poorly understood disorder. Today we received this proclamation from Governor Haslam.

CRPS Awareness Day.JPG

We encourage everyone who knows about RSD/CRPS to spread the awareness of this painful disease so that we can be better trained to fight it and find a cure.

Here is a quick reminder from Nashville car wreck and injury attorney Jonathan Williams of what to do if you are involved in an automobile accident.

1. Call the Police-Get an accident report from the police even if it seems minor. This can be critical to scene recreation if necessary. It also helps identify witnesses and is helpful for the car insurance companies and attorneys to get your claim started quickly. The Metro Nashville Police Department non-emergency line is 615-862-8600.

2. Medical Attention- If you are able, ask if the other parties are okay. If you are injured, seek immediate medical attention for yourself or call 911. Don’t wait. Untreated injuries may get worse over time. Make sure you tell the Doctor about all possible injuries.

3. Document- Take a picture of the other parties Insurance card and get their cell number. Take pictures at the scene of both cars if possible AND the surroundings of the accident. If you believe the other party was not properly obeying street signs or traffic lights, document the signs or lights with a photograph.

4. Do no call – Do not talk to the insurance company for the other party until you have first talked to a lawyer. If you are injured; call Jonathan Williams for FREE advice. If you receive a call, tell them limited personal info only. Let your car wreck attorney deal with the insurance company.

Remember – Your phone or in person consultation with Nashville car wreck attorney Jonathan Williams is always FREE. Call 615-256-8880 to find out more.

The last thing you want to do on a snow day is talk to a Nashville injury attorney. We have all seen the news warning us not to drive and pictures and stories of car wrecks all over Middle Tennessee. Since you should not drive on ice, remember, when you walk, “Walk Like A Penguin!”

According to the National Safety Council, slip and falls are the second leading cause of un-intentional deaths at home. So, if you have to walk on ice, do your best penguin impersonation.


Wear proper footwear, widen your foot base, keep your arms close to your body, turn your feet outward, take small steps, and watch for any curbs or steps that may cause a fall. Concentrate while walking. Don’t text and walk.

Remember your animals need protection as well. If you have a dog, go for short walks during bad weather. Ice can freeze in between their paws and injure your pet so wipe their paws with a warm washcloth and dry after being outside. Use a short leash and do not let your dog go out unattended. Remember that your dog probably cannot “Walk like a Penguin.” If it can, send me a video and I will post it here.

The short answer is yes, but it wasn’t always this way in Tennessee. For many years Tennessee was a contributory negligence state. That meant that if an accident was even 1% your fault you could not recover any damages through the Tennessee legal system. Thankfully, in 1992 Tennessee adopted a modified comparative fault system in the landmark case of McIntyre v. Balentine. Rather than completely barring someone from recovery if they are partially at fault in car wreck in Tennessee, comparative fault allows a person to recover damages depending on their percentage of fault in the accident.

Under pure comparative fault a person can recover damages in a car accident even if they are mostly at fault. If Jack and Jill are in a car accident and Jack is 95% at fault, Jack could in theory sue Jill for damages. However, it is likely that Jill would also file a lawsuit against Jack and whatever award Jack was granted would be minimal compared to that which Jill would be granted since the accident was almost entirely Jack’s fault. In the grand scheme it is really quite pointless for Jack to even file a lawsuit in this situation. For that reason Tennessee adopted the “modified” comparative fault system.

The modified comparative fault system allows a person to recover damages for an accident as long as their fault is less than that of the opposing party. So, if you are in an accident that is partially your fault you may still be able to recover damages for your medical bills, property damages, pain and suffering, etc. An injured person is not entitled to any recovery if the person was 50% or more at fault for causing the damages. Ultimately, a jury and not an insurance adjustor makes this finding.

You may be asking, “what if I’m not sure who was more at fault in my accident?” Car wrecks are determined on a factual case by case basis. Even if you think that an accident was 50% your fault, you may want to at least consult an experienced Tennessee injury attorney. In Tennessee, if a jury or judge finds that you are 49% at fault or less, you are still entitled to a fair recovery but your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

It is important to understand the principal of fairness that is at the heart of comparative fault. The goal is to create a system that is much more reasonable than contributory negligence. Under comparative fault, a person is only entitled to the percentage of the damage that was not caused by their own negligence or irresponsibility. For example, if at trial it is determined that you were 20% at fault in your accident, then you are entitled to 80% of the damages you incurred as a result of the accident.
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The Tennessean reported today that Nashville is one of the most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians. You can read the article here. It includes the following report:

A report released this week identified the Nashville metro area as one of the most dangerous for pedestrians. The study by Smart Growth America, an advocacy group on pedestrian and urban design issues, looked at the number of pedestrian deaths and how often people are walking in those cities.

The Nashville metro area — with 210 pedestrian deaths between 2003 and 2012 — ranked 15th most dangerous out of the 51 areas studied. Memphis was fifth worst, behind four metro areas in Florida.

As Nashville grows, city planners and motorist must be conscious of people on sidewalks and bicycles.

With the New Year come new laws. Tennessee legislative blogger Tom Humphrey has compiled a list of laws that go into effect today, January 1, 2013. You can find the list here. The new laws effect small businesses, workers’ compensation, drivers’ licenses and teachers among others.

As school starts again, it is a good time to review Tennessee’s child restraint laws. The State of Tennessee bases its child restraint laws on a child’s age, weight and height. While all children under the age of 16 must be properly restrained in a vehicle, there are different requirements for each age group.

Children under the age of one year or who weigh less than 20 lbs must be secured in a car seat in a rear facing position. It is important that both the age and the weight requirement be met before allowing the child to ride in a car seat facing forward. Children between the ages of one and three years old and weighing more than 20 lbs must be restrained in a car seat in a forward facing position. Both of these age groups must be seated in the back seat of a car if available.

Children between the ages of four and eight years of age and measuring less than four feet nine inches must be restrained in a “belt-positioning” booster seat system. If the child is over the age of eight years old but measure less than 4’9, he or she must use a seat belt restraint system meeting federal motor vehicle standards. The same standard applies to children between the ages of nine and twelve years old as well as children between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. However, it is advised that children under the age of thirteen sit in a rear seat if available.

The driver of the car is responsible for ensuring that any children in the vehicle are properly restrained. However, if the parent or legal guardian of the child is in the car but not driving, they are held responsible for properly restraining his or her child. Although violations of these requirements can result in a $50.00 fine, it is vital to adhere to these laws for the safety of any and all children passengers in a vehicle.

You can review the rules here:

Motor vehicle collisions with pedestrians are very frightening and are not uncommon in middle Tennessee. In fact, Channel 4 news reported that a child was hit by a car recently as he was walking to school. Fortunately the child only suffered a broken arm; however, many Nashville pedestrians are not so lucky. According to a recent study, approximately 7,000 pedestrians die and 100,000 are injured in traffic related accidents each year.

Tennessee has strict laws relating to pedestrian safety. Under these laws, every Tennessee driver is required to (1) exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, (2) to give a warning by sounding the horn when necessary and (3) to exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or other person upon a roadway. Drivers failing to meet these standards can be held responsible for any injuries and damages, including medical bills and lost wages, suffered by the pedestrian.

However, pedestrians are not off the hook. Tennessee law also imposes duties on pedestrians traveling on streets and highways. For example, pedestrians are subject to traffic regulations and are only to cross the street and walk where designated. Pedestrians failing to follow these laws may be considered equally or totally at fault for the collision thus limiting or barring their claim all together.
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If you are a Plaintiff in an injury case in Tennessee, your attorney may tell you that you have to give a deposition. An injury lawsuit is started with a Complaint. Once filed and served on the proper people or companies, the Defendants file an Answer to the Complaint where they admit or deny the allegations filed.

Written questions called interrogatories are usually served after the Answer is filed. Interrogatories are written questions about the injury case, the Nashville car wreck or work injury, the people involved and the claims asserted. This gives everyone a heads up on what the case is about. In Tennessee, these questions do not have to seek relevant information; they only have to seek “discoverable” information. That topic is for another post but it basically means the questions have to be tailored to find facts that may be important to some other question or topic in the case. For example, “Where do you go to church?” is an acceptable question because there may be potential jurors who go to the same church and know you.

After everyone shares their responses, some injury cases settle, some proceed. A deposition can occur at any time but it usually happens at this stage, once the other side has the medical records, bills and an idea about the claims.

A deposition is a formal question and answer session usually held at the attorney’s office. It is “on the record” meaning the witness is sworn to tell the truth and a court reporter writes down every word spoken. I prepare every client for the deposition based on the case, the important facts and the problems the case may have. The best Nashville injury attorneys never prepare every case and every client the same way. Deposition preparation depends on your comfort level, who the defense attorney is, the facts of the case, among many other factors.

Many people have concerns about what will be asked, how important is this or that. The most important rule to remember in a deposition is to tell the truth.

A deposition can be a great experience, if you are prepared, because it is usually the first time, and the last time before trial, that the injured person gets to tell their story about what happened and how it has changed their life both at home and work. Proper preparation makes this easy.
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If you have been injured in a car wreck, you have probably received forms from an insurance adjustor giving that at-fault driver’s insurance company access to your medical records. It happens in nearly every claim. Should you sign them? Probably not; at least not until you talk to an experienced injury attorney who handles car wreck claims.

Your medical records are private and protected from disclosure by federal HIPAA laws. But, when you get hurt and seek money from an insurance company, you put your entire medical history up for review. That is okay, as long as it is controlled. Many insurance companies will send medical releases that allow them to talk to your doctor. That is called ex-parte communication and it is not allowed, unless you agree to it.

There is no testimonial privilege for doctor-patient communications in Tennessee. Givens v. Mullikin ex rel. McElwaney, 75 S.W.3d 383, 407-08 (Tenn. 2002). There is, however, an implied covenant of confidentiality between a physician and a patient arising out of the original contract of treatment for payment. Id. This implied covenant specifically precludes informal discussions with a law firm employed to defend the patient’s claim: “[A] physician breaches his or her implied covenant of confidentiality by divulging medical information, without the patient’s consent, through informal conversations with others.” Id. However, this covenant of confidentiality can be waived by the patient by signing the form. So don’t do it until you talk to an attorney.

It’s the same for work injuries, you get hurt and the forms arrive. But the workers’ compensation laws in Tennessee have a provision that requires the injured worker to sign a form called a C-31 medical waiver and consent form. You can find a copy of that form here, click to download the form C-31. I have seen some insurance companies sneak terms into a C-31 that allows the insurance company to talk to the doctor. This type of form should not be signed.

In almost every car wreck or motorcycle accident claim, or really any type of claim for serious injuries, I control the flow of information about medical records. We provide the insurance company with all of the records. We sometimes give them an agreed protective order allowing them access to the records, at their expense, but the order does not give the insurance company permission to speak privately with your doctor.
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