Many people have preconceived notions about how personal injury cases work in Tennessee. Sometimes, fantastical ideas of how the process works can get in the way of you receiving the funds you need for medical bills and lost wages. Put those notions to the side. Here's how personal injury cases work in Memphis.
You Have to Prove the Damages You Seek Compensation For
An injury by itself isn't enough for a personal injury case. There are several other factors involved. You must prove a few different things before you can pursue a case at all.
What You Have to Prove
Before you have a case, you have to prove negligence. It starts with a person or group having a duty of care towards you. That person or group must then do something to breach their duty of care.
For example, a doctor has a duty of care towards providing you with adequate, industry-standard treatment. If the doctor does something outside of those approved standards, they might violate their duty of care.
Next, that violation must cause an injury, and the injury cannot occur accidentally. The negligent party must know their breach of duty could have caused an accident.
For example, a doctor can skip a step in a procedure, and injure you because of it. If the step is a well-known one for that particular procedure, then it's certainly a breach. However, if the step wasn't known, or easily known by the doctor or the industry in general, then your injury becomes an accident.
Finally, the injury you receive must cause you actual damages. A mild injury you "walk off" does not count. You need real numbers to back a personal injury claim.
- Did you accumulate medical bills or lose work because of your injury?
- Will you miss work in the future because of your injury?
- Has your relationship with your family fundamentally changed because of your injury?
You must prove everything here to have a viable claim. Doing so can become difficult, especially without legal help. A good general rule is for you to save everything even remotely related to your accident and injury. That can include all medical bills, work correspondence, names of people who witnessed the accident or your struggle.
You Don't Have Forever to File a Claim
Tennessee only allows you up to a year to file a personal injury claim. It's still possible to file after the year in some special cases, but it's not a good idea to hope for that.
Where You Can File a Claim
It's also important you file your claim with the proper court. For cases over $25,000, you can file in the Circuit Court. Anything below $25,000 must go through the General Sessions Court. Once again, if you're unsure, then consult with a legal professional about the filing process.
A year isn't a long time, so it's important you move on your claim as soon as you possibly can. It's just as important you do it right so you don't waste any of that time.
Tennessee Uses a Modified Comparative Fault System
In Tennessee, the court assigns a percentage of fault. Because of this, it's possible for you to hold some of the blame for your accident and injury in the eyes of the court. Tennessee is a "49% state." If you hold more than 50% of the fault, you cannot recover damages.
Each Percentage Point Costs You
Because of this modified comparative fault system, it's important for you to lower your possible liability as much as possible. Even when you do recover damages, each percentage point of blame assigned to you will lower the total amount of damages you receive.
You Should Always Seek Help for a Potential Personal Injury Case
Even if you don't hire legal representation, you should at least consult with an attorney about your possible case. Having representation can help you in a number of ways. You won't have to guess about your next step, you will have work with the paperwork and minutia, and you will have guidance throughout the process.
At The Walter Bailey Law Firm, we want you to understand how this process can work for you specifically. Contact us for more information on the process. If you're injured because of someone's negligence, don't hesitate to call us immediately.