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"Yikes!" "Ouch!" "Oh No!" All things we might say when we're injured. The next thing we might ask ourselves is "What now?" If our injury was caused by someone else, at some point we are going to wonder, "Do I need to call an attorney?"
The answer will depend on several factors, not least of which is how severe the injury. Other considerations are how it happened, who is at fault, and whether or not that fault results in legal liability.
Here are some points to consider:
First, if the injury is severe enough to warrant medical treatment, be sure and obtain the needed treatment as soon as you can. Besides the basic need to take care of yourself, documentation of the injury is important should you need to pursue legal action later.
In Tennessee there is a one-year statute of limitations for filing most injury claims (T.C.A. §28-3-104(a)(1)). That does not mean that you necessarily need to call an attorney from your hospital bed, but it does mean that you should not wait too many months to talk to an attorney if you are badly injured. Evaluating the potential of a case and preparing to file suit takes time.
The attorney will evaluate whether or not the plaintiff (victim) can prove in a lawsuit that the actions of the defendant were either intentional, malicious, reckless or negligent. The most common standard used is negligence, under which the plaintiff must prove several things including duty of care, breach of that duty of care, that injury or loss was sustained by the plaintiff, and that the harm would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s negligence.
Car accidents are commonly featured in advertisements because these items are easier to prove because of traffic laws and the availability of insurance coverage to fund compensation. Often these cases are settled before they come to trial. Importantly, most cases which are successfully pursued are ones in which BOTH parties have insurance. Situations in which one or the other party does not have insurance are difficult to resolve equitably.
Fall injuries are more complicated than most people initially believe, and proving negligence may be more challenging. Consider, for example, if someone spills a bottle of cleaner in a store aisle a few minutes before someone walks down the same aisle and slips on the puddle. If the store workers did not know of the spill, they may not have had a duty of care. An example of a fall situation which may be easier to prove a duty of care is if you hear someone say, for example, “I told them about that spot,” or “you’re the second (third, etc.) person to fall right there.” Because of this and the system of comparative negligence in Tennessee, falls are rarely simple cases, and if one is severely injured in a fall, it’s best to consult with an attorney who evaluates these types of injuries.
If you are injured at work, your injury will fall under Tennessee’s Workers’ Compensation laws. Visit www.tn.gov/workplace to learn about this system, which is governed under the Board of Workers’ Compensation and has its own system of courts and judges.
If you’re looking for a lawyer and just don’t know where to start, the Knoxville Bar Association’s LRIS is a great place to begin. We match you with a lawyer that suits your needs. Our trusted attorneys provide you with a free consultation so that you can decide if it’s the right fit. Want to learn more? Call us at (865) 522-7501 or visit knoxbar.org/lawyerfinder.
The materials contained in this blog are intended to, and do, provide only a broad overview of various legal topics. The general information contained in this material is not designed nor intended to be a substitute for legal advice on a specific legal issue or question. In addition, the information provided in this material is only general advice and may not be applicable to apparently similar individual problems, since only slight changes in facts may alter the applicable advice. If you have a legal problem or question, please consult an attorney.
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