Answers to Your Questions About Mid-South Injury Lawsuits
Have questions about what to do if you have been injured in a car or truck wreck in Tennessee or one of the neighboring states? Don’t know how to proceed if a medical error or birth injury has harmed or killed a loved one in Memphis or another Tennessee location? The experienced trial attorneys at the Holton Law Firm have the answers you need. If you do not see your question answered here, contact our office to learn more about your individual case.
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What if I've used a defective product in a way not intended by the manufacturer?
When a consumer purchases a product, he does so with the expectation that the product will be both safe and effective. Buyers trust that manufacturers have upheld their responsibility to let only tested goods out into the market. There are times, however, when this is not the case. Dangerous or defective products find their way into the hands of consumers and cause significant harm. In some cases, the liability of the manufacturer is clear. However, there are other times when a consumer is unsure of his rights, especially when the product was not necessarily used as intended. So, it’s important for consumers to know their options.
The Elements of Product Liability in Tennessee
To pursue a successful product liability case in Tennessee, victims must show that the manufacturer is at fault for their injuries or other damages. In general, it must be proved that:
- A person suffered an injury
- The product used was defective or dangerous
- This defect caused the injury
Defects can be shown in design, manufacturing, or failure to warn. A design defect would indicate an inherent flaw in the product that makes it dangerous, while a manufacturing defect would be a problem with some specific part of the product. Failure to warn refers to a manufacturer’s duty to provide warnings about ways in which the product could potentially cause harm and instructions for its proper use.
Who Is Liable When Consumers Don’t Follow Use Instructions?
In general, it is expected that a consumer follow the product instructions and use the product as the manufacturer intended. However, there is some leeway when addressing this guideline. Tennessee statutes state that manufacturers should take into consideration both the intended use and other uses that could be reasonably expected from the general public. This means, even if a person is injured while using a product outside of the specific intent, but still in a manner that is reasonable for other ordinary consumers, the victim could still pursue a legal claim. Manufacturers should offer products that will be safe in all of the ways people may be expected to use them. While this guideline may not apply in every case, it can be possible to obtain compensation if you or someone you love suffered injuries from a defective product even if it was used outside its stated purpose.
Every situation is unique, and the experienced product liability attorneys at Holton Law Firm can help you understand your rights. Call our Memphis office today to learn more about your possible legal options, and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Hurt In A Wreck? Call Our Office Today.
Life is often very frantic after a car accident, but it is very important to remain calm. Below is a list of the steps you should take if you were in a car accident in Tennessee.
First, bring your car to a stop, and put on your hazard lights if they are still functional.
Second, you want to check yourself and any passengers for any injuries. Look for any serious injuries, and when in doubt call for an ambulance.
Third, call 911 or your local police non-emergency number. You want to have a police report made that documents the accident. Accident reports establish who was driving, what insurance was covering the vehicle, and how the vehicles made impact.
Fourth, exchange insurance information with the other driver. You should also make note of their license plate number, and drivers license number when possible. This information should be included in the accident report, but the report will not be immediately available to you.
Fifth, take pictures or video of the vehicles and the accident scene. If there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to ask them for their name and number so that they can be contacted at a later time.
Sixth, do not sign any insurance documents before consulting with a lawyer. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to settle claims cheaply and quickly right after the accident happens. They know that an accident can turn life upside down, and early on it is less likely the injured person has had time to consider any long term damages.
Recently we heard of two young parents who were horrificly injured in a car accident which left them in the ICU for weeks. Before they had even finished their medical treatment, the insurance company was calling them trying to settle their claims for less than two weeks of lost wages. The unfortunate reality was that those serious injuries had lifelong implications, and those two weeks of lost wages would have been less than a drop in the bucket.
If you've been injured in an accident, call our office at 901-523-2222. We know how to help.
What Causes Car Accidents?
It is true that no two car accidents are exactly alike, but there are certain common elements that show up time and again in the accidents that we review at the Holton Law Firm. We hope that you will take note of the following list of common causes of car accidents.
- Distracted Driving- In today's modern age of technology, the likelihood of driving while distracted has increased dramatically. In fact, each year, more and more accidents occur because someone was texting, checking facebook, or taking a selfie with their phone. Often these accidents involve rear end collisions where the driver's focus shifts from the road to a phone or other device and doesn't see traffic slowing or stopping.
- Drunk Driving- Even With the increasing availability of affordable ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, drunk driving continues to be one of the most deadly causes of car accidents. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even prescription drugs) has consistently been shown to decrease reaction times, coordination, and focus, and makes car wrecks more likely.
- Excessive Speed- It may seem like a victimless crime to exceed the posted speed limit, but speeding is often a cause of accidents. Having an accident at more than 55 mph significantly increases the chances of your vehicle rolling over in the crash. Speeding also makes defensive driving more difficult because the faster your vehicle is traveling the less time you will have to react to sudden stops or improper lane changes from other drivers.
- Hazardous Weather Conditions- Whether it is rain, fog, sleet, snow, or ice, hazardous weather conditions cause or contribute to many wrecks every year. Safely driving in these weather conditions often involves driving at lower speeds with your windshield wipers and lights on. In extreme conditions where visibility is exceedingly low, you can use the hazard lights to help alert other drivers to your presence.
- Reckless Driving- Reckless driving can include improper lane changes, failing to use turn signals, following too closely, or swerving within the lane. Reckless drivers are often focused on getting somewhere, on "beating" others in traffic, or on a distraction such as music, phone, or other electronic device.
- Roadway Defects or Obstructions- Defects and obstructions to the road can include potholes, debris from another accident, wildlife such as deer, or construction cones or barrels that are improperly placed without adequate warning. These defects and obstructions can cause sudden stops or swerving in drivers who are caught off guard.
There are many causes of accidents, but paying attention to these six will help you become a safer driver.
What Causes a Car to Rollover?
Rollover accidents carry a higher fatality rate than any other type of crash. While vehicles rolling over is not common in car accidents, rollovers still account for nearly 200,000 accidents in a year.
There is no way to absolutely rule out rollovers, but there are certain risk factors that you can avoid to make a rollover less likely. It is significant to note that more than 80% of rollovers are single vehicle accidents. As you will see in the list that follows, this is directly tied to the fact that the majority of risk factors for rollovers are irresponsible driver behaviors.
- First, the majority of fatalities in rollover accidents involved persons who were not wearing seatbelts. This is true for any type of collision, but it bears repeating that the first line of defense in an accident is a buckled seatbelt.
- Second, almost 50% of all rollover crashes involve alcohol. Again, this is true for preventing any type of collision, but driving drunk is a behavior that endangers the drunk driver as well as innocent passengers and other drivers. It has been well documented that reaction times, decision making, and coordination are all impaired when the driver is under the influence of alcohol.
- Third, roughly 40% of all rollover crashes involved excessive speed. Most of the accidents happened where the posted speed limit was 55 mph or above. Again, this is a risky driver behavior that can endanger the life of not only the driver, but also his or her passengers.
- Fourth, the majority of rollovers happen in rural locations where roads are more likely to be narrow without separation between lanes or barriers, and the speed limit is more likely to be 55 mph or above. Further, rural roads are often winding with twists and turns and poor visibility.
- Fifth, certain vehicle designs are more likely to rollover when involved in a single vehicle crash. Generally those include tall and narrow vehicles such as SUV's, pickups and vans. These vehicles have a higher center of gravity which makes them less stable and more prone to rollover. If you are concerned that your vehicle may be more likely to rollover, please search for information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at https://www.nhtsa.gov/ratings.
For your safety and the safety of others, please take note of these risk factors. Drive sober, avoid distractions, and watch your speed.
What is Klumpke’s palsy?
A doctor must meet an expected standard of care each time he cares for a patient, which includes making good decisions during a complex birth. If the doctor who delivered your child used excessive force or pulled the baby from the birth canal by an arm extended above the baby’s head, damage to the child’s nerves can result—known as Klumpke’s palsy. It’s important to understand this condition, how you can identify it, and how a lawyer can help determine if you have a birth injury lawsuit.
Understanding Klumpke’s Palsy
Also known as Klumpke’s paralysis or Dejerine-Klumpke palsy, Klumpke’s palsy is a condition resulting from injury to a newborn’s brachial plexus—the network of nerves sending signals from your spine to your hand, arm, and shoulder. This injury occurs when:
- The nerves are totally severed from the spine
- The nerves are torn at an area not connected to the spine
- The nerves are overstretched
- The nerves were injured but did not heal properly
This type of birth injury usually occurs during a vaginal delivery, and it could be the result of a doctor’s negligence. Common symptoms of this injury include:
- Rigid, claw-like hands
- Asymmetrical posturing
- Bent arm held close to the body
- Weak muscle on the affected side
- Diminished sensation or function in the arm, or total paralysis
- Excessive pain
Although not every birth injury is caused by a doctor’s negligence, it’s possible your baby’s Klumpke’s palsy was preventable. A delivery becomes more complicated and difficult if:
- The baby is large
- The baby has a large head
- The mother has a small pelvis
These scenarios may lead a doctor to use more force when helping the baby exit the birth canal and pull too hard or pull on the baby’s arm, which is often extended over the baby’s head. This extra force can lead to injuries resulting in Klumpke’s palsy.
Effects of Klumpke’s Palsy Could Last a Lifetime
Determining whether you have a potential birth injury lawsuit is important because the effects of an injury leading to Klumpke’s palsy could last the rest of your child’s life. Many injuries to the brachial plexus will heal with no complications. However, other injuries may lead to long-lasting or permanent consequences—which means your baby could need continued medical attention. Common complications associated with Klumpke’s palsy include:
- Pain. It’s not uncommon that nerve damage results in pain. This may be connected to how the nerves heal and if any scar tissue exists.
- Stiffness. Because the pain limits mobility during the healing process, it’s possible joints and muscles will become stiff and difficult to move, or they may even stay rigid after the injury is healed.
- Permanent disability. The nerves in the brachial plexus could heal improperly, failing to restore connectivity with the brain and losing functionality entirely.
- Loss of feeling. It’s possible that scar tissue or improper healing will result in loss of feeling in the shoulder, arm, and hands.
- Atrophy. Nerves can take a while to heal, and it’s important to keep in mind that some nerves must regrow. As this happens, your baby’s muscle might atrophy—which could mean muscle deterioration or prolonged weakness.
During childbirth, if a baby’s nerves were simply stretched, the injury typically heals more easily. If the baby’s nerves were torn, the injury may be improved by engaging in prescribed physical therapy to keep the joint active and get blood flowing to the area. Additionally, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove scar tissue if he believes the injury isn’t healing as well as it needs to.
Your Baby Deserves Quality Representation
If your baby suffered injuries during delivery, you should speak with an attorney. The legal team at The Holton Law Firm can review your case, help determine if you have a birth injury case, and provide superior representation, if necessary. To get started on your case, contact a team member today by calling our toll-free phone number.
What are no-zones around a truck?
Semi-trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, which increases the potential for serious injury and damage in the event of an accident. For this reason, drivers of passenger vehicles should employ greater caution when driving near 18-wheelers to prevent accidents, especially around the truck’s “no-zones.”
Avoid No-Zones to Help Prevent an Accident
There are danger areas around a semi-truck known as no-zones, in which the risk of an accident greatly increases. Drivers should do their best to avoid these areas, which include:
- The sides. Both the large area behind the truck’s passenger door and the small area behind its driver-side door are difficult for a truck driver to see—even using his mirrors as aides. Limited visibility on both sides, but especially on the driver’s right side, creates great potential for an accident.
- The immediate front. Especially at high speeds and in poor weather conditions, semi-trucks need more stopping distance due to their size and weight. Drivers should avoid cutting off large trucks or driving directly in front of them.
- The immediate rear. Keeping a safe following distance is important when driving at all times, but it is especially important when driving behind a semi. Because the trucks are so large, it’s difficult to see around them—which can make it nearly impossible to anticipate when they will stop because of traffic or an obstacle in the road.
When driving near and around semi-trucks, remembering this simple rule may help you stay safe: if you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, he can’t see you.
Blind Spots Are Not an Excuse
Although every driver can do her part in preventing an accident with a large truck by avoiding the no-zones, you should remember that truck drivers (or another contributing party) should still be held responsible for their carelessness, recklessness, and negligence—and any injuries and damages that result from an accident.
Our Legal Team Wants to Help You
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it’s important to get in touch with an attorney who can help you recover fairly. At the Hilton Law Firm, we’ll review the details of your situation, build a strong case, and help you recover what you need for injuries, lost wages, and property damages. Start a live online chat with a member of our team today.
What is modified comparative negligence, and how will it affect my car accident claim?
The details of every car accident are unique, and these details become significant when you are trying to recover for your losses after a car accident. If you were partially at fault for your accident—or if the at-fault driver is wrongly attempting to place blame on you—it’s important to understand how Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence rule may affect your claim and how an attorney can help you maximize your recovery.
The 50% Rule
Tennessee imposes the modified comparative negligence method on car accident cases, using the 50% rule. This means:
- It’s still possible for you to recover for injuries and damages if you are 49% or less at fault for your own accident.
- A judge or jury will assign you a percentage of fault based on the facts of your case.
- You may recover an appropriate monetary amount based on your percentage of fault.
If a judge or jury finds you to be 50% or more at fault for an accident, you will be unable to recover compensation for any injuries or damages you sustained.
Fault is not always easily determined in a car accident case, but evidence from your crash scene, the police report, and witness statements may help you and your attorney accurately place blame on the at-fault party. To determine negligence and decrease your percentage of liability, your attorney will show that:
- The other driver was negligent in some way
- The other driver’s negligence caused the crash
- That crash led directly to your bodily injury and property damages
Your attorney may also use this evidence to show that you acted appropriately and as necessary to protect yourself and your property.
We’ll Answer Your Questions
If you’ve recently been in an auto accident and feel concerned about your involvement and potential recovery, you need to speak with an attorney. The Holton Law Firm is here to listen to your concerns, prepare you for what comes next, and represent you. To speak with a member of our team, fill out the online contact form on our website today.
How can I recover for property damage after a car accident?
Cars are designed to strategically sustain the force in a car crash to protect the occupants from a direct impact. However, this means a car may become severely damaged or even totaled in an accident. If you’re involved in a car wreck, it’s possible to recover financially for your property damage through the at-fault driver’s insurance or your own.
Right After the Accident, Protect Your Claim
To recover fairly for damages to your car or other valuable property, it’s important to take steps to protect your recovery, including:
- Documenting the accident scene and any exterior or interior property damage with photos, videos, and notes
- Keeping all receipts related to the accident, including towing costs, body work, internal vehicle repairs, and rental cars
- Knowing the value of your car, which you can find through online portals such as Kelley Blue Book by inputting your car’s year, make, model, and any special features
Who Pays for the Property Damage?
When seeking repairs for your vehicle, don’t skimp on costs by allowing a less-than-reputable mechanic to work on it or agreeing to install generic or cheap parts. There are ways to recover the costs of your damages, including:
- The at-fault driver’s insurance. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance is sufficient to cover the costs of property damage in an accident.
- Your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. If the driver who hit you either left the scene or had inadequate insurance, the UM coverage on your own insurance policy could cover property damage.
- The driver’s personal finances. In some cases, if neither insurance policy can cover the damages, it might be necessary pursue compensation through a lawsuit. An attorney can help you understand if this is the right option for you.
When You Need a Lawyer, Call Us
If you’ve been in a car crash and need help with your property damage claim, we can help. At the Holton Law Firm, we’ve been advocating for our clients in and out of the courtroom for decades. To get our team on your case, give us a call today.
How much is my injury case worth?
The exact value of your case depends on specific details, including the circumstances under which you were hurt and how badly you were hurt. However, insurers and attorneys both consider a few important factors when determining what a personal injury case is worth, and our firm can further help you understand your claim’s value through our database of case information.
Calculating the Value of an Injury Case
As the injury victim, you are an important part of calculating an accurate value of your case because you have first-hand knowledge of how the injury impacted your daily life. When you meet with your attorney, he may ask you questions similar to the following to help him determine the value of your claim:
- What happened leading up to the incident?
- What injuries did you suffer?
- Do you have any pre-existing injuries?
- Have you already seen a medical professional, and did you pay any medical bills?
- Will you need to keep seeing a doctor? For how long?
- Will your injury keep you from working? For how long?
- Has the injury changed your ability to engage in daily activities?
- Has your family—perhaps your spouse or children—suffered as a result of your injury?
Our Database Offers a Clearer Perspective
In addition to considering the unique details of your case, our firm uses a large database of case information to calculate and make an informed decision about the value of your case. Our team has represented injury victims for over 30 years, successfully earned over $260 million in compensation for them, and collected and created a database that tells us more about:
- How different insurance agencies handle an injury claim
- What elements each company may consider when calculating a claim’s worth
- How our other clients in similar situations have recovered compensation
Personalized Assistance With Your Injury
If you’ve been recently injured and need help determining whether or not you have a case, contact us to discuss your situation. The attorneys at the Holton Law Firm will put their many years of experience to work for you, so give us a call at 888-443-4387.
Which Tennessee court will hear my car accident injury case?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company may not negotiate in good faith to arrive at a fair settlement to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In fact, you may have to file a lawsuit in order to obtain the compensation you deserve.
In Tennessee, civil matters such as car accident lawsuits are heard in either a General Sessions Court or Circuit Court.
General Sessions Court
General Sessions Courts serve every county in the state of Tennessee. These courts are also known as courts of limited jurisdiction because they can only try certain types of criminal and civil matters. Following are some important things to understand about filing your car accident lawsuit in a General Sessions Court:
- Monetary damage awards cannot exceed $25,000.
- A judge—not a jury—decides your case.
- Decisions from the General Sessions Court may be appealed to the Circuit Court. These appeals are heard de novo, meaning the trial starts over as though the original one never occurred.
Circuit Courts have authority to hear all kinds of legal matters, including serious criminal offenses and felony traffic violations, contract disputes, domestic matters, and civil matters (including car accident injury cases). Following are some key things to know about filing your car accident lawsuit in Circuit Court:
- Jury trials are available.
- There is no limit on monetary damage awards.
- Decisions from the Circuit Court may be appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The court reviews the records from the earlier trial to determine if there was an error that should be reversed—it does not take testimony or admit new evidence.
Determining the Best Court for Your Car Accident Injury Case
There are pros and cons to filing a lawsuit in either of the two courts. For example, the ability to appeal an unfavorable General Sessions Court decision and have a new trial in Circuit Court may be an advantage in some situations. The ability to request a trial by jury in Circuit Court may be an advantage in other situations. But the best court for your lawsuit is the one that your attorney recommends after reviewing your specific situation and deciding how best to handle your case. After all, your attorney has the knowledge and experience to know what will work best.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal options. If you are ready to get started, call our office or start a live chat with us now. We look forward to speaking with you.