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How Car Accident Claims Work in Memphis, Tennessee

Offered by Darrell Castle & Associates, PLLC

Car accidents in Memphis – a rear-end accident on Poplar Avenue, a T-bone accident at an intersection on Adams Avenue or a distracted driving accident on North Parkway – can quickly turn into complex claims. It’s important that car accident injury victims in Memphis fully understand their legal rights and options.

Where do car accidents occur in Memphis?

Car accidents often occur on certain streets and roads in Memphis. According to data collected by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), car accidents often occur on the following roads in Memphis:

  • South Barksdale Street, especially near the intersection with Lamar Avenue.
  • East Parkway North, especially near the Poplar Avenue intersection.
  • Chelsea Avenue, especially near the intersections of North Hollywood Street and North Bellevue Boulevard.
  • Levee Road, especially near the intersection of North Watkins Street.
  • Jackson Avenue, especially near the North Evergreen Street intersection and North Hollywood Street intersection.
  • North Watkins Street, especially near the Delano Avenue intersection.

Car accidents are also common on major highways in Shelby county, including:

Interstate 40

Running 455 miles east to west across Tennessee, Interstate 40 connects Memphis with Knoxville and many other communities in between, including Nashville and Jackson. Part of a longer national cross-country highway, Interstate 40 in Tennessee is nicknamed the “Music Highway” since the highway connects Nashville and Memphis. Car accidents on I-40 in Shelby County are sadly common as well. This section of 1-40 was ranked the 14th most dangerous road in the country, according to a study conducted by Value Penguin.

Interstate 55

A short highway (only 12 miles long) located entirely in Memphis, Interstate 55 runs from the Tennessee-Mississippi state line (and the junction of I-55 and I-69) to the Tennessee-Arkansas state line over the Mississippi River. (I-55 is also the closest major highway near Graceland and Memphis International Airport.) Many car accidents occur on this busy highway. Car accidents are especially common near the I-55 and I-240 interchange, according to car accident data compiled by state and federal officials.

Interstate 240

Another short highway at only 19 miles long, Interstate 240 is a beltway highway that travels around Memphis and serves as an auxiliary interstate highway for I-40 in the southern and eastern parts of Memphis. I-240 also connects with I-55 at Exit 25 in Memphis. I-240 has several names – the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway, the W.B. Fowler Sr. Expressway and the Avron B. Fogelman Expressway. Drivers on this road need to stay alert at all times in order to avoid a serious car accident.

Interstate 269

Another beltway highway, Interstate 269 runs 45 miles near Memphis and serves as an auxiliary interstate highway for I-69 that connects Tennessee with Mississippi, as well as several other major highways, including I-22, I-40 and I-55. When car accidents happen on I-269, speeding or distracted drivers are often to blame.

Why do car accidents happen in Memphis?

  • Most car accidents in Memphis are caused by a driver’s negligent or careless behavior. Specific causes include:
  • Speeding drivers, who often cause serious or fatal collisions. Each year, an average of 30 people die in speeding-related accidents in Shelby County, Tennessee, according to accident data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).
  • Distracted drivers, including texting drivers, even though texting while driving is against the law in Tennessee since the state’s “Hands Free Law” (Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-8-199) went into effect in 2019.
  • Drunk drivers – some years, as many as 80 people die in drunk driving accidents in Shelby County, according to the NHTSA.
  • Tired drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, especially on highways and rural roads at night.
  • Reckless drivers who ignore the rules of the road, including not stopping for a stop sign, running a red light or not yielding to other traffic at an intersection.

What are common car accident injuries?

Many people involved in serious motor vehicle accidents in Memphis sustain serious injuries that require surgery or other emergency medical care. Such injuries include:

  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • Other types of head injuries, including skull fractures or facial cuts caused by broken glass or sharp objects in the vehicle.
  • Painful neck injuries, including whiplash, which is especially common in rear-end accidents.
  • Broken bones or bone fractures.
  • Internal injuries, including organ damage or internal bleeding.
  • Arm or hand injuries.
  • Leg or foot injuries.

What should accident victims do after a collision?

Injury victims need to act fast to protect their rights and health after a Memphis car accident. Such steps often include:

  • Call 911 immediately. The 911 dispatcher will then notify either the Memphis Police Department or the Tennessee Highway Patrol depending on where your accident took place.
  • If someone saw your collision, get their name and phone number before they leave the scene of your accident. Statements from eyewitnesses help build strong legal cases.
  • If it’s safe to do, take pictures of your crash site before moving your vehicle. Don’t do this if there are hazardous weather conditions or if the other driver appears drunk or dangerous. In such situations, wait in your vehicle for the police to arrive.
  • Exchange information with the other driver when it’s safe to do. Make sure you get the other driver’s full name, driver’s license number, address, phone number and insurance information. Give the same information to the other driver as well.
  • Don’t discuss your accident with anyone once you have exchanged information with the other driver. Saying something as simple as “I’m sorry” could later be used to deny your injury claim.
  • See a doctor right away at Methodist University Hospital or another health care facility in Memphis, even if you have already been examined by an EMT or emergency room doctor. Many car accident injuries take several hours or days to develop, including internal injuries, whiplash, and concussions.
  • Call a Memphis car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Who determines who’s at fault?

You would think that the Memphis police officer or Tennessee state trooper investigating your Memphis car accident has the most to say about who was at fault in your car crash. But their focus is on determining whether a traffic law was violated, not on determining compensation for the victim.

Instead, it’s the insurance companies representing the drivers involved in the collision that often have the most say. This is very important since they can determine how much – or how little – you receive for your injury-related expenses.

Who’s responsible for paying for my accident?

Tennessee has an at-fault car insurance system. This means the at-fault party – and their insurance company – must financially compensate injury victims for all their accident-related expenses.

But just because the other driver’s insurance company should pay for your collision does not mean they will actually do so. The insurance companies have a financial incentive to pay as little as possible, or nothing at all. That’s why claims are often disputed, delayed, or denied.

How much is my accident claim worth? What can I be compensated for?

Under Tennessee law, you should be financially compensated for all past, present and future expenses due to your car crash. The damages (financial compensation) that should be covered by your claim include:

All medical care related to your car accident injury, including:

  • Ambulance fees
  • Emergency medical care
  • Diagnostic medical tests to identify your injury
  • Surgical procedures
  • Overnight hospital fees
  • Follow-up doctor’s appointments
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription medications
  • Follow-up surgical procedures
  • In-home medical care if necessary
  • Medical equipment, including wheelchairs
  • Vehicle repairs or the cost of buying a new car if your vehicle is a total loss.
  • Replacement income if you need time off from work to recover from your injury.
  • Future income if you have a permanent disability due to your accident and cannot work.
  • Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.

The value of your claim will also be affected by liability and the amount of available insurance. Ultimately, only an attorney can tell you how much your case is worth.

Settlement offers and car accident lawsuits in Tennessee

Soon after a collision, the at-fault driver’s insurance company often makes a settlement offer. What you might not realize is if you agree to accept their settlement offer, you cannot go back and ask the other driver’s insurance company for more money in the future. Once you accept a settlement offer, that’s it. Your case is settled, and you can’t go back for more. That’s why it’s critical that you discuss any settlement offer with an attorney before accepting it.

You also have the option of filing a lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver – usually in Shelby County, if the accident took place in Memphis, although jurisdiction can vary in some circumstances. It’s important to remember that Tennessee has the shortest statute of limitations (legal deadline) for injury lawsuits in the nation: just one year from the date of the accident. So, talking to a lawyer right away is important to protect your legal options.

How can a Memphis car accident lawyer help me?

Car accidents caused by another driver in Memphis often turn out to be complicated legal cases. The insurance company may dispute fault for the accident or downplay the extent of your damages. That’s why it’s important to level the playing field with your own legal advocate.

Whatever the circumstances, an experienced Memphis car accident attorney can help you better understand the legal options available to you and advocate for your rights under Tennessee law. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, schedule a free consultation today.

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Founded by attorney Darrell Castle, our firm helps people in Memphis and throughout Western Tennessee who are experiencing hardships, from injury to financial troubles. We are kno...