2021

Facts about medical malpractice in Tennessee

Being a victim of medical malpractice can have lasting consequences. It is important to know how to navigate the claims process, including what you can do if this happens to you or a loved one. If you’re wondering what evidence you need to file a medical malpractice claim, here’s what you should know.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to negligence that results in injury or harm to a patient. It occurs when the doctor, nurse or other medical professional does not exercise the proper standard of care while diagnosing or treating medical conditions. For instance, medical malpractice can occur if there is a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

Medical negligence also occurs when medical professionals commit errors during surgeries, prescribe the wrong medications to patients, and handle emergencies poorly. Most medical mistakes in these cases result in permanent injuries that cause significant harm to victims.

What do you need to file a medical malpractice claim?

First, as a medical malpractice victim, you need to identify the medical professional who committed medical negligence in your case. Next, you will also have to determine if there were any witnesses present when the medical mistake occurred and whether it’s possible for someone else to provide evidence about what happened during your treatment process.

You need medical records that show the medical professional treating you did not meet proper standards of care during your treatment. It’s also necessary to have medical records that show you incurred financial, physical, and emotional damages because of the medical professional’s mistake. If your medical malpractice case meets all these requirements, you can file a medical negligence claim against the professional or medical center in question.

Filing a claim

Filing a medical malpractice claim might feel daunting and stressful. One of the best ways to make the process easier is to ensure that you have all the necessary items to prove your case. Make sure you have medical records, witnesses who can testify on your behalf, proof that you or a loved one incurred financial damages because of the medical mistake, and anything else that can support your case.

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Damages recoverable for permanent personal injuries

Accidents can happen anywhere. As a resident of Tennessee, you can be injured after a vehicle accident, a fall or even due to someone else’s intentional actions. If your injuries are permanent, you should be able to recover certain types of damages.

What are permanent injury claims?

You can file a permanent injury claim if you have suffered a personal injury that has continuing effects on your everyday life. These injuries are often disabling and debilitating and, they can even change your life. You may be unable to continue enjoying things you once did or even perform daily tasks that most people take for granted. Common permanent injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Car accidents, bad falls, medical malpractice and on-the-job injuries can result in TBIs. These injuries can significantly impact your everyday life and can cause brain damage.
  • Spinal cord injuries. These injuries can cause paralysis that’s sometimes permanent. A person can lose function of his or her lower limbs or experience paralysis from the neck down.
  • Burns. Severe burns can cause damage to the skin and even the lungs. People with these injuries often need multiple, painful reconstructive surgeries.
  • Internal injuries. Trauma can lead to internal injuries and dysfunction of the reproductive organs, bodily functions and more.
  • Amputations. Some accidents are so serious that a person can lose a limb. Amputations may be needed when a body part has been crushed and damaged beyond repair.
  • Sensory loss. This injury can occur as a result of exposure to toxins, medical errors or trauma. A person can be left blind, hearing impaired, or unable to smell or taste.
  • Disfigurement. Serious accidents can result in burns, cuts, scarring and other forms of disfigurement and significantly affect a person’s everyday life.
  • Toxic exposure. When a person is repeatedly exposed to dangerous toxic substances, he or she can suffer permanent injuries or illnesses, such as mesothelioma.

Damages recoverable with permanent injury claims

A personal injury that is permanent means that the victim will never be the same. As a result, damages beyond the standard personal injury case can be recovered. The amount of compensation a victim receives is influenced by:

  • Disability level. If a person requires ongoing medical care, treatment and equipment, he or she will need significant compensation for life.
  • Loss of future wages. Individuals with permanent injuries often cannot work any longer, which means they will not be able to support themselves. When determining compensation, the number of years the person would have continued working otherwise and how much he or she would have earned is considered.
  • Visible disfigurement. If a person is obviously disfigured, it can cause significant stress and depression. Emotional distress is factored in as damage that can be recovered.
  • Age. The person’s age is considered, especially when the victim is younger. This is largely due to the years of care he or she will need.
  • Pain and suffering. This type of damages can be awarded when negligence was involved in the injury.

Permanent injuries can impact your life forever. These damages are meant to help ease some of the burden and help with continuous medical care costs.

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Avoid these common mistakes that can cause trucking accidents

According to statistics, passenger vehicles cause the majority of accidents involving large trucks. Becoming a commercial truck driver requires hours of specialized training, including training on sharing the road with passenger vehicles. By contrast, most drivers of passenger vehicles have no training or knowledge about the capabilities and limitations of large trucks.

Due to the sheer size and weight of large trucks, truck accidents tend to be more deadly and cause more extensive property damage than accidents involving only passenger vehicles. Fortunately, drivers of passenger vehicles can take precautions to reduce the likelihood of a truck accident.

Avoid the “No Zone”

The “No Zone” is a term created by the trucking industry to refer to the areas behind and on either side of a large truck where the driver has no visibility. A good rule of thumb for other drivers is to look at the truck’s side mirror. If the driver of a car cannot see the truck driver’s face in that mirror, the truck driver cannot see the car.

Be aware of trucks’ limitations

Commercial trucks are slow to take off. In heavy traffic, this often creates gaps in front of big trucks that are enticing for passenger cars. However, big trucks are also slower to stop. Slamming the brakes in a large truck can cause the truck to jackknife. Passenger cars should use care when merging in front of large trucks and avoid executing sudden lane changes that could cut off a large truck.

Other passenger vehicle moves that often cause truck accidents include turning in front of a truck, driving between trucks, and failing to leave enough headway when passing.

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Determining negligence in a fatal car crash

From a legal standpoint, negligence refers to any inadvertent act that causes harm to another person. For instance, it’s unlikely that a driver who was speeding on a Tennessee highway did so with the intent of harming other motorists. However, that person likely knew that driving too fast for road conditions increased his or her risk of causing a crash to occur. In some cases, multiple parties might be considered negligent in a car accident case.

Could you be liable for your own death?

Depending on the facts of the case, it’s possible that you could be liable for the accident that results in your death. This may be true if you were impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. Furthermore, you could be responsible for a crash if you were using a cellphone, driving a defective vehicle or took other actions that violated your duty of care toward other motorists.

Your estate may receive a payout even if you’re partially liable

If you are killed in a car crash, your estate may receive payment from another party assuming that you are less than 50% liable for the accident. In the event that multiple parties are to blame for your death, they will need to work together to ensure that your family is compensated in a timely manner.

Don’t forget about the statute of limitations

An MVA attorney will likely file a lawsuit the day that he or she is hired to represent your interests. This helps to ensure that whoever is pursuing compensation on your behalf retains the right to take a case to court if settlement talks aren’t successful. In Tennessee, a lawsuit must generally be filed no more than a year after a fatal accident occurs.

An attorney may be able to help your loved ones collect compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other expenses if you’re killed in a crash. A legal adviser may also help you obtain compensation from a party who was killed in a wreck caused by his or her negligence.

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Understand the risks of drowsy driving

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office reports that up to 8,000 fatalities a year result from drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. One in three drivers admit to drowsy driving within the past 30 days, an action that can be just as dangerous as driving while texting or under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Learn more about the dangers of driving while drowsy.

Signs of exhaustion while driving

If you feel too tired to drive, you should always pull over and rest in a safe place. Take these steps when you cannot keep your eyes open, begin daydreaming or can no longer focus while driving. While drowsy driving often happens after midnight, these accidents are also common during the afternoon rush hour.

Strategies to avoid drowsy driving

Strive to sleep at least six hours and ideally eight hours every night. Keep your room cool and dark and avoid device use for at least an hour before you go to bed. Talk to your health care provider if you cannot get enough sleep. Medical problems and certain medications can cause this issue.

Some medications also lead to drowsiness. Pay close attention to the warnings on both prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take and avoid driving if indicated on the label.

The risk of involvement in a serious auto accident rises significantly with drowsy driving. Even if you do not fall asleep at the wheel, slower reaction time and reflexes make it difficult to respond to unexpected events on the road. You can seek legal compensation if you suffer injuries in an accident caused by a driver who falls asleep.

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3 reasons not to sign a blanket medical authorization

Car accidents are a leading cause of both serious injury and death in the U.S. In fact, roughly 38,000 Americans die and another 4.4 million suffer bodily harm in car crashes every single year. Even though car accidents are common, you may never have been through one.

Following an accident, an insurer may try to take advantage of your inexperience by asking you to sign a blanket medical authorization. Like anything else, you should not sign this authorization until you understand all its consequences for three reasons.

1. The insurer obtains all your medical information

During your life, you may have seen a physician countless times for minor ailments, serious injuries or something else. You may also have undergone surgery or therapy. If you sign a blanket medical authorization, the insurer may access all your medical information. This is true even if your medical history has little or nothing to do with the accident or your injuries.

2. The insurer may blame a pre-existing injury

Not only do car accidents cause new injuries, but they also often aggravate existing ones. If you sign a blanket authorization, the insurer may use your pre-existing condition to deny your claim or to offer you a low settlement. Consequently, it is usually better to provide specific medical details that are relevant to your claim.

3. You have a right to privacy

Your medical records likely include sensitive information about you. Even if you have nothing to hide, you have a right to privacy. Letting an insurer access your medical history waives this right. Put simply, you may want to keep private details private.

Ultimately, you probably need to give the insurer access to some medical records. Signing a blanket authorization, though, is not likely to help either your accident claim or your recovery.

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