Memphis Personal Injury Lawyers
Experienced Attorneys Advocating for Memphis Residents
Personal injury law is a violation of tort law, which applies when someone is negligent or carries out intentional wrongdoing harming another person. The most common personal injury situations are accidents (called “negligence” in legalese), intentional acts like fraud or battery, and product liability cases initiated when a product is defective or unreasonably dangerous.
Every personal injury claim has two issues: liability and damages. “Liability” means that someone else is responsible for the injury you’ve suffered, and “damages” is the legal term for the injury or harm incurred by the wronged party.
Many situations exist where people who suffer serious injuries resulting from negligence or wrongful acts could file a personal injury lawsuit. For example, there were over 35,000 collisions in Memphis’ own Shelby County during 2020. Car accidents can lead to personal injury lawsuits when insurance companies try to avoid paying out legal claims or attempt to settle for less than what the injured party deserves.
If you need a personal injury lawyer, we are here to help you through the legal aftermath of your accident or injury. We can answer your questions, evaluate your legal problem, and help you determine if a personal injury lawyer is right for you.
What do personal injury lawyers do?
Personal injury attorneys are civil litigators who advocate for their clients’ (i.e., the injured parties’) legal rights. Your personal injury attorney can deal with the court and opposing counsel on your behalf, handling the following:
Giving legal advice: An attorney can help evaluate your case to know if you have a valid compensation claim. They can also present you with your best options to pursue remedies and your chance of a successful outcome with whichever scenario you choose.
Identifying the essential issues in your case: Your attorney can decide what claims to present to the court to ensure a positive outcome.
Researching the law: Attorneys know case law and statutes relevant to your injury lawsuit. Attorneys have adequate training and knowledge to find the needed answers if presented with a complex or unique issue.
Gathering evidence to support your claims: Your attorney can inform you of the documents you need to compile for evidentiary support of your claim, such as medical bills, employment records, doctor’s notes, medication or other product labels, etc. If you’re having trouble retrieving certain records (e.g., police reports, driving histories, insurance cards, hospital notes or treatment directives, etc.), your attorney can help obtain them.
Filing a complaint in the appropriate venue: Your attorney knows what documents to prepare, what arguments to assert, and where to file your claim and initiate your lawsuit. Your attorney will also be aware of court rules and proper procedures to ensure service of process and other legal requirements and standards are followed and accurate to avoid delaying your case or risking the judge dismissing your claim due to a minuscule and preventable error.
Conducting discovery: Attorneys spend a fair amount of time on a case collecting facts and information relevant to and supportive of your claim. Your attorney can use different discovery requests, including requests for production, interrogatories, admissions, depositions, and third-party subpoenas to obtain the evidence needed to help ensure a satisfactory outcome.
Preparing legal documents: Your personal injury attorney can prepare a complaint to start your lawsuit. Additionally, your lawyer will know what documents to prepare and file to defend motions, conduct discovery, respond to court directives, and make requests from the court or opposing counsel. They also know what supporting laws and legal standards to include in the different documents.
Negotiating with opposing counsel to settle: At any point throughout your lawsuit, you can settle with the opposing party or parties and the insurance companies. Your attorney can help guide these discussions and negotiate on your behalf for fair compensation.
Presenting your case in court if needed: If your case doesn’t settle, you’ll need to proceed to trial. Each side will have to assert their arguments and defenses and present evidence of their claims. Your attorney can be your voice in court while following courtroom procedures, evidentiary rules, and other necessary legal protocols and practices.
In summary, your personal injury attorney’s job is to navigate an often complex and convoluted legal system to help you receive the compensation and justice you deserve after being wrongly or negligently injured by someone else.
Types of Personal Injury Cases in Memphis
If a negligent or reckless party injures you, a personal injury attorney can help you on the following case types:
Car accidents are one of the most common types of personal injuries. Based on data from 2019, out of approximately 173,000 fatalities in the US that year, motor vehicle accidents ranked as one of the top three causes of death with nearly 37,600 traffic deaths.
Truck accidents differ from other motor vehicle accidents because they’re extremely hazardous, resulting in severe injuries and damage due to the size and weight of commercial freight trucks. Also, separate rules and regulations apply to truck drivers and trucking companies due to the heightened risk of serious harm.
Due to the relative difference in weight between a motorcycle and a car, this type of personal injury accident can be highly dangerous for the essentially unprotected biker. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that per vehicle miles traveled in 2019, motorcyclists were about 29 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than those traveling in cars or other passenger vehicles, with just over 5,000 motorcyclists killed that same year. Additionally, they’re four times more likely to experience injuries.
Possibly due to increased blind spots, bus accidents can happen easily if a bus driver, pedestrian, or other vehicle driver is distracted. Mechanical failures can also contribute to bus accidents if buses are not routinely or adequately maintained. You must have a special license to operate a bus.
Cars are much heavier than people, resulting in a greater impact and significantly more severe injuries when a motor vehicle contacts a pedestrian. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 6,205 pedestrian deaths by traffic accidents on public roads. According to NHTSA data, these accidents are more likely to happen on Saturdays at night or during dark lighting conditions. Urban areas and open roads are also more dangerous for pedestrians. Intersections present another risk for pedestrians, although not as high as the danger to a person on an open highway.
Bicycle transportation deaths increased by 6% in 2019, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes decreased by 3% from the previous year, totaling just under 850 fatalities. These deaths make up 2% of all motor vehicle accident deaths. Bicycle-related accidents and deaths are more likely to occur in the summer months, from June to September. The fewest amount of fatalities happen in January. Bicyclists are most susceptible to severe and deadly head injuries. One analysis estimates a 60% lower risk of head injuries and 58% reduced risk of brain injuries when cyclists use bicycle helmets regularly and correctly.
Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) decides these claims. Many valid claims for disability benefits result in an initial denial. A personal injury attorney can help appeal your denial. The SSA estimates that one in four 20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement. Many of these individuals depend on the income of SSA benefits for their livelihood when they’re unable to work. With baby boomers getting older, the SSA has seen an increase in disability benefits but estimates that the approximately nine million Americans currently receiving benefits is an inaccurate representation of the number of Americans actually living with disabilities and unable to work, meaning many are not getting the replaced income they need.
Each state has different regulations and laws for workers’ compensation benefits. A personal injury attorney can evaluate a claim for benefits based on local rules. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 2.5 million workers received emergency treatment for injuries sustained on the job in 2018. NIOSH determined that the three most common causes of work-related injuries include “contact with objects and equipment, overexertion and bodily reaction, and falls, slips, and trips without a fall.”
Patients put an incredible amount of trust in their doctors, and when a doctor provides negligent care, it can be an overwhelming experience. In 2018, Modern Medicine and CNBC reported that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer.
Product liability (defective products)
Manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers can be liable for selling defective or dangerous products. Consumers have a right to information and adequate warnings related to the products they use.
A landowner has a duty to keep their property reasonably safe. This area of law includes slip-and-fall accidents, which account for one million hospital emergency room visits and 12% of all falls annually, per the National Floor Safety Institute.
Nursing home negligence
Nursing home negligence and abuse is especially tragic because we entrust our elderly loved ones to these facilities’ care. In 2018, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimated 52.4 million Americans aged 65 or older. The NCEA expects that number to increase to 80 million, or over 20% of the United States’ total population, by the year 2040. The number of people aged 85 or older will likely triple by the year 2060, and the elderly population will likely outnumber the child population for the first time in the year 2034, putting more older individuals at risk for abuse. With life expectancies rising and more baby boomers advancing to the age of elder care, more people are at risk of suffering from nursing home negligence, especially if understaffed facilities cannot handle the influx of residents adequately. Currently, at least one in 10 nursing home residents allege experiencing some form of abuse, including psychological, physical, financial, neglect, or sexual abuse.
Prescription drugs and medications
Mistakes in prescribing and dispensing medications lead to 7,000 to 9,000 patient deaths each year in the US, according to data published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a subdepartment of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Construction sites can be dangerous places. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), construction workers are at the highest risk for deadly falls from heights. Additionally, those visiting, near, or passing by construction sites can fall victim to the many hazards present.
About 1,000 people in the US receive emergency treatment for dog bites every day. If you experience a dog bite injury, you may be able to receive compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other incurred damages, including psychological trauma due to the incident.
Wrongful death/catastrophic injuries
No accident is more severe than those resulting in a loved one’s death. You can sue for compensation on behalf of your loved one to cover the financial and other losses to your family due to your spouse’s, parent’s, or child’s permanent severe disability or untimely death.
Legal Standard for Personal Injury Cases
The law imposes a duty on everyone to act reasonably so as not to harm themselves or others. If someone fails to act with an appropriate standard of care and another person gets injured, they can be liable for negligence.
Injured individuals should talk to a personal injury attorney about their legal options. Every jurisdiction within the US has a legal definition for negligence. In Tennessee, a victim must prove the following five elements:
- The defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- Conduct by the defendant falls below the standard of care owed to the plaintiff.
- Cause-in-fact, meaning the plaintiff would not have suffered the injury without the actions of the defendant.
- Proximate cause, meaning the injury the plaintiff suffered was foreseeable and not interrupted by superseding events.
- The plaintiff sustained damages, entitling them to monetary compensation.
What is the process for filing a personal injury lawsuit?
Hiring a Memphis personal injury attorney who knows the relevant rules of Tennessee civil procedure and steps to file a valid lawsuit can ensure you file on time and correctly. The process for filing your personal injury case begins before the paperwork gets to the courthouse. Here are the steps you should take to help protect your legal rights:
- Step 1: Seek Medical Attention. If you sustain an injury in an accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Sometimes, injuries may reveal themselves later after the initial adrenaline wears off. Also, if you do end up filing a compensation claim, opposing counsel may use the delay in seeking medical care to shift liability away from their client. It’s also helpful to have a record of your medical diagnosis and treatment as evidence of your injuries.
- Step 2: Determine the Insurance Policy Coverage. If you can, find out if the defendant has insurance and get the policy number. Lawsuits are costly, and while a judgment in your favor might entitle you to monetary compensation, if the defendant does not have sufficient funds or assets, collecting on that judgment will be very difficult. If the defendant has insurance coverage, though, you may be able to collect the entire judgment from the insurance company.
- Step 3: Inform the Defendant and their Insurer You Plan to File a Lawsuit. You must complete and file a complaint in the appropriate court before the statute of limitations tolls, meaning you’ve run out of time to initiate a lawsuit. Before starting your case, though, you should get the name of the potential defendant’s insurance company and their policy number. Consult with a personal injury attorney before negotiating a settlement.
- Step 4: Negotiate with the Defendant or their Insurer. Most personal injury cases find resolution via a settlement. Settlement negotiations occur between the plaintiff or their attorney and the defendant’s attorney or a claims adjuster for the defendant’s insurance carrier. These negotiations typically end in a written agreement where both sides agree to halt all legal action and resolve the matter by compensating the plaintiff for their injuries. A personal injury attorney is beneficial throughout these negotiations to get you fair compensation, as many insurance companies will try to avoid paying out the total amount you deserve. You should never speak with the opposing party or their insurance company or admit fault of any kind before speaking with an attorney.
- Step 5: File a Lawsuit. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful or there’s not enough time to complete negotiations before the statute of limitations runs out, you should file your complaint in the appropriate court. Like all court documents submitted to civil courts in Tennessee, complaints are subject to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. There are three courts in Tennessee in which it may be appropriate to file your complaint: the general sessions, chancery, or circuit court. If you’re bringing a claim against a state official or agency, like the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Claims Commission will handle your lawsuit. The best venue to file your claim will depend on the facts of your case and the remedy you seek. A personal injury lawyer can prepare your complaint, including all relevant laws, necessary wording, and supporting documents, and determine the appropriate venue to file your lawsuit. After filing your complaint with the clerk of court, the statute of limitations stops running, and the action commences.
After being injured in an accident in Memphis, how long do I have to file a lawsuit?
A statute of limitations is a prescriptive period setting the maximum amount of time after an accident occurs for a wronged party to initiate a lawsuit. Once the time restriction passes, you cannot file a claim on your cause of action, with very few exceptions, if any.
In Memphis, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is one year from the date the accident or injury occurred, allowing you less time to start your lawsuit compared to most other states.
Exceptions to this one-year rule include:
- Minors: The one-year statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor reaches 18. An injured child thereby has until their 19th birthday to file a personal injury claim, regardless of when the injury occurred.
- Criminals: If the state charges the defendant who directly caused your injuries with a crime or certain traffic infractions, Tennessee law may extend the statute of limitations to two years.
- Mentally incompetent: If the court finds that the plaintiff is mentally incompetent and less than fifty percent liable for their injury, then the statute of limitations is tolled and will resume when the plaintiff recovers.
- Discovery rule: Tennessee adopted the discovery rule because some injuries develop slowly or have hidden symptoms that prevent injured parties and their doctors from learning about the injury and making a diagnosis. Under this rule, the one-year statute of limitations begins to run on the date you learn about or reasonably should have known about your injury. This rule frequently applies in medical malpractice cases.
- Fraudulent concealment: Suppose the defendant (1) knew of material facts that would give rise to a cause of action; (2) took affirmative action to conceal the cause of action or failed to disclose material facts despite a duty to do so; and (3) the plaintiff could not have discovered the cause of action despite exercising reasonable care and diligence. In that case, a court may extend the one-year statute of limitations.
How long will my personal injury case take?
How long it takes to resolve your personal injury case depends on a multitude of factors, including:
- Length of the discovery process: Discovery is the legal process of gathering evidence to be used at trial. This process can range from a few months to years. Many settlements occur at or near the conclusion of the discovery phase.
- Admissions of fault by you or the other party: An admission of guilt or wrongdoing can speed up a settlement in an attempt to avoid an even larger payout awarded by a judge or jury.
- An agreement on the amount of damages: If you or your attorney have to negotiate with the defendant or their insurance company to reach an agreement, it can take longer to resolve your case and get you the fair compensation you deserve.
- The number of parties to the case: The more people involved, the more complicated the case becomes and the longer it can take to resolve it, especially if there are disagreements about percentages of fault or amounts of damages, or if multiple pieces of evidence need obtaining for each party.
- If your case goes to trial: Preparing for trial takes time. Additionally, the trial proceedings themselves typically take a day or two or longer, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.
What compensation can I receive for my personal injury?
It can be difficult to determine an exact dollar amount you can receive as compensation for your damages. Every case is different, and many factors can influence the outcome and value of your claim, including:
- The extent and duration of your physical injuries. You have the right to seek compensation for all past and future (expected) medical expenses. The more severe your injuries and the longer you require medical treatment for those injuries, the more likely you will receive higher compensation.
- Lost income and diminished future earning capacity. If your accident impaired your ability to work, you might be able to receive compensation for lost wages (or income you would’ve received if you were able to go to work) for the time you missed. Additionally, you can receive compensation for income lost if your injuries prevent you from returning to your job altogether.
- Pain and suffering or emotional distress. Pain and suffering includes your physical pain and emotional anguish experienced due to your injuries or the trauma of the accident. You can also receive compensation for a reduced quality of life (i.e., loss of enjoyment or ability to participate in activities you previously enjoyed regularly).
- Punitive damages. If the defendant injured you in a malicious, intentional, fraudulent, grossly negligent, or reckless way, you might be entitled to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages intend to punish the defendant and deter future similar wrongdoing by the defendant and others. You must be able to prove the defendant’s wrongful behavior by clear and convincing evidence, a burden of proof requiring you to show that the claims you present are highly more probable to be true than not.
What evidence do I need to prove my injuries?
Before filing your lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will seek to obtain tangible evidence to support your injury claim. After filing your lawsuit and during the discovery process, your attorney will request evidence from the opposing party (i.e., the defendant) or third parties (e.g., insurance companies, witnesses, etc.). Helpful evidence includes:
- Photos of the scene of the accident
- Physical objects damaged during the accident (e.g., your vehicle)
- Testimony from eyewitnesses and expert witnesses
- Footage from camera phones or surveillance cameras
- Black box labels on medications
- Maintenance logs
- Medical records showing the extent of your injuries and long-term prognosis
- Work records showing time off work due to the accident and recovery
How much does a Memphis personal injury lawyer charge?
At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, we operate on a contingency fee basis to help make justice more accessible to our clients. This payment arrangement means that we take a set percentage (agreed on at the time of hiring) of your settlement amount or successful jury verdict, so we don’t get paid unless you do.
If your case ends without a settlement or favorable jury verdict, you don’t owe our firm anything other than case costs (e.g., court filing fees, process server fees, court reporters, expert witness fees, photocopying, travel expenses, etc.). Firms that work under a contingency fee agreement typically advance these costs for you, but sometimes you are responsible for reimbursement when your case does not end in a payout.
Your personal injury attorney will discuss all fees and costs with you before you decide to retain the firm.
Why should I hire a Memphis personal injury attorney?
A Memphis area personal injury law firm with years of experience can help guide you throughout the entire legal process to ensure you maximize the amount of compensation you receive. Your lawyer can:
- Explain your legal rights and options and advise you on what steps to take for your highest chance of a successful result
- Answer any questions you might have
- Ensure you meet deadlines for filing and other time-stamped requirements
- Help you gather all necessary evidence to support your claim, including contacting health care providers for medical records
- Handle all communications with insurance companies and the other parties’ lawyers
What should I do after an accident in Memphis?
If you’re in an accident in Memphis, you should take the following steps:
- Step 1: Stay at the Scene. Sometimes, when adrenaline is high, or you’re in a hurry to be somewhere, you might feel the urge to flee the scene of an accident, but committing a hit-and-run is illegal in Tennessee. Potential criminal charges for people that leave the scene range from Class C to Class A misdemeanors depending on the extent of property damage and whether someone suffers injuries.
- Step 2: Get Off of the Road. If possible, move your car off to the side of the road or pull into a parking lot where you won’t impede traffic. After you’re in a safe place, you and the other parties to the accident should exchange names and addresses and provide each other with your vehicles’ registration numbers.
- Step 3: Call 911. You must report the crash to the police if there appears to be more than $400 in property damage or anyone is injured or dies. Given the high price of auto repairs, it’s highly likely this legal duty will apply to most accidents. Aside from your obligation, calling 911 can ensure any needed authorities arrive, such as an ambulance, the police, or a tow truck.
- Step 4: Take Pictures and Videos. As mentioned in the evidence section, be sure to photograph each vehicle involved, the result of the impact, and the accident scene as a whole if possible. You may also want photographs of any injuries you suffered. Additionally, try to find eyewitnesses and get their contact information.
- Step 5: Wait for the Police to Finish Their Report. Police officers responding to accidents must create a report if there is more than $400 in property damage or a person dies or suffers injuries. If you talk to the police office at your accident scene, don’t admit fault or lie to them about what happened. After the officer completes the report, you’re generally free to leave the scene.
- Step 6: Contact a Memphis Personal Injury Lawyer. A Memphis personal injury lawyer can handle your accident claim in the most efficient way possible to help ensure a more positive outcome. At Nahon, Sarahovich & Trotz, we have a team of knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorneys. They know important deadlines, what documents you need and how to complete them, and how to file them in the appropriate court. They also know what evidence to gather to support your claims and which witnesses to depose to ensure the most effective impact on the jury. They can negotiate with big insurance companies and properly calculate your damages to help you receive fair compensation.
When should I contact a Memphis personal injury law firm?
If you’ve been injured in an accident or other personal injury matter and wish to file a claim for compensation, you should hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The statute of limitations begins running the date of your accident, so you’ll want to move quickly to seek justice and get the compensation you deserve to assist in your recovery.
Call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz (NST) for a free consultation any hour of the day at (800) 529-4004. Our personal injury attorneys can inform you of your legal rights and advocate for your best interests.
NST and its legal team and staff members have experience handling cases throughout the Mid-South, including Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Illinois. If someone else’s wrongful or negligent conduct caused you harm, you may be entitled to compensation for your resulting damages. Contact us today.