The Awful Truth …
The statistics are sobering. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of all work-related fatalities. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for drivers between the ages of 15 to 24. Two out of five people will be involved in an alcohol-related vehicle crash in their lifetime.
While many people feel safe while driving their own car or truck, the truth is that 20 people are killed in traffic accidents every 4 hours , and in the same 4 hour period another 1,040 people on average will be injured.
Traffic accidents are a part of the law of “torts.” Some of these laws are enacted by the legislature and some of them are created by the courts. When the legislature creates a law it is called a statute. When a court creates a law it is referred to as the “common law.”
In Tennessee, the law requires a person who negligently operates a vehicle to pay for any and all damages caused by their negligence. All operators of vehicles must drive with reasonable care under the circumstances. If a driver does not use reasonable care and an accident occurs because of that failure, the driver is financially responsible for the damages caused by his or her negligence.
If you have been injured in a traffic accident as a result of the carelessness, negligence or irresponsible behavior of another individual or organization, you probably have a right to bring a personal injury claim. Since most of the time you will suffer some form of loss, you have a claim arising from both bodily injuries and property damage sustained as a result of the use or operation of a motor vehicles. Even if the driver who is at fault for the accident does not have liability insurance, you may have claims against other individuals or businesses who may own the vehicle, you may also have claims against your own insurance company if you have uninsured motorist coverage.
The Triple Whammy …
The Vehicle Crash
During the first part of the crash the car begins to buckle and bend as it comes into contact with another object – usually another car. This impact and the sudden deceleration can create an abrupt stop in the car’s motion. This happens in roughly 1/10 of an second. The crush of the front end absorbs some of the energy of the crash and cushions the rest of the car. Thereby, the passenger compartment comes to a more gradual stop.
The Human Crash
During the second part of the crash, the occupants hit some part of the vehicle. If no seat belt is being used, the occupant is still traveling at the vehicle’s original speed. Just after the vehicle stops the occupant will slam into the steering wheel, the windshield or some other part the vehicle. The body becomes a projectile which suffers a separate but related sudden deceleration and abrupt stop.
The Internal Crash
Even after the occupant’s body comes to a complete stop, the internal organs are still moving. Suddenly, these organs hit other organs and/or the skeletal system. This third phase can cause serious internal injuries, damage to specific internal organs, possibly including brain damage and even fatalities.
Many times we hear the term “soft tissue” injuries. Often times, the phrase “soft tissue” injury is used to suggest that someone is not really hurt or that they are faking injuries perhaps because they do not have broken bones. Have you ever considered that a ruptured spleen is a “soft tissue” injury? A punctured lung is a “soft tissue” injury. Almost any damage to the skin or an internal organ – which are “soft tissues” – are in reality “soft tissue” injuries and may be life threatening. Indeed, a brain injury could be referred to a “soft tissue” injury. The fallacy that only “hard tissues” – such as bones – can result in real harm, pain or loss is a misconception.
If you are the victim of a traffic accident you have the right to hold the parties who are at fault in causing the accident financially liable for your damages. Damages in a traffic accident case – as in most other tort causes – are defined primarily by the common law of Tennessee.
Obviously, you are entitled to have the damage to your property repaired. But that is a simple concept which may not be so simple to resolve. What happens if the parts are no longer available for your car? What happens if the body shop cannot match the paint? What happens if “factory” replacement parts cannot be found and you have to use lesser quality aftermarket parts? Indeed, simply paying for the repair may not be enough to compensate you for your loss. There may be other – less obvious – property damage claims. For example, what about the fact that you have lost the use of your car for weeks or months? What happens to the value of the car after the repair?
Usually, the property damage is the easy part of the formula. You and your family may suffer a variety of losses that are not as easy to place a value upon. The law says you are entitled to payment for medical expenses. But you are also entitled to recover for less precise damages such as your pain, your suffering, your loss of earnings, your loss of earning capacity and even other categories of loss such as loss of consortium.
If you have been the victim of an automobile accident and would like to get us to help you “level the field” by helping you through the process and hopefully reach your goals, please feel free to contact us. You can request a free initial consultation by calling us at the telephone number at the top of this page, or by using the contact form on the Contact page.