Before filing a personal injury claim, you should familiarize yourself with personal injury laws in the state where you reside. We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide that summarizes personal injury laws in Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
When trying to obtain compensation for your injuries and damages, filing a personal injury claim may feel like a daunting and complicated task because you are required to follow strict filing deadlines in your state and gather all available evidence and documentation to support your claim.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. Our experienced Atlanta personal injury attorneys will help you navigate the legal process. Let our skilled attorneys handle your personal injury claim. We will fight for the compensation you deserve while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Are Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi no-fault or at-fault states?
Before initiating the personal injury claims process, you need to determine whether you live in a no-fault or at-fault state.
- In states with the no-fault system, the injured party’s auto insurance company covers their damages and expenses up to the policy limits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. It means that in a no-fault state, you can seek compensation by filing a claim with your own insurance company even if you were to blame for your injury.
- In at-fault states, you’ll first need to establish fault before seeking compensation. If the other party is responsible for your injury, you can file a claim against their insurance company. However, you may also be able to make a claim with your own insurer in certain situations.
Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi use the at-fault system to compensate car accident victims for their medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other losses.
If you were injured in a car accident in Georgia, Tennessee, or Mississippi, you have three options when seeking compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses:
- File a claim with your own insurance company;
- File a claim against the other party’s insurer; or
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options. This makes it essential to speak with a knowledgeable Nashville personal injury attorney to determine what’s best for your situation.
Contributory vs. comparative negligence in Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi
The amount you can recover and your entitlement to compensation depends on two factors:
- Whether you live in a state that follows the contributory or comparative negligence system; and
- Your degree of fault.
Only a handful of states still have the contributory negligence doctrine. Under this doctrine, an injured party may be barred from recovering damages if their own fault contributed to their injury.
The vast majority of states have adopted the comparative negligence standard. Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia are among the states that follow the doctrine of comparative negligence.
There are two types of comparative negligence:
- Pure comparative negligence. If you were partially responsible for your injury, your compensation would be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. You can collect damages even if you’re mostly at fault. For example, if your damages total $100,000, and you were deemed to be 70% at fault, you will be able to collect $30,000.
- Modified comparative negligence. Under this doctrine, you are not entitled to any compensation if you were 50% or more at fault for your injury. If you were 70% at fault for the injury, as in our example above, you would not be able to recover any damages. If you were partially to blame but the other party is more at fault for your injury, your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
Mississippi uses the pure comparative negligence doctrine (Miss. Code § 11-7-15), while both Georgia and Tennessee adopted the modified comparative negligence standard (O.C.G.A. 51-11-7 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-11-103, respectively).
How to prove negligence in a personal injury claim?
When filing a claim to seek compensation for your damages, you must prove the other party was negligent. Negligence refers to a person’s failure to exercise reasonable care when their conduct results in injury or damage to another party.
In order to prevail on a personal injury claim in Georgia, Tennessee, or Mississippi, the injured party must prove the following four elements:
- The defendant owed the injured party a duty of care;
- The defendant failed to exercise due care and breached the duty;
- The breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury; and
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages and losses as a result of the injury.
It’s should only hire a skilled Knoxville personal injury lawyer to help you gather evidence and documentation to support your claim. The Alpharetta personal injury attorneys will help you prove the above-mentioned elements in your particular case.
How long do you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee?
Every state has its own time limits for how long a plaintiff has to file a civil lawsuit. That time limit, also known as the statute of limitations, also exists for personal injury lawsuits.
Failure to file a lawsuit within the applicable time limit can result in the loss of your right to sue. The amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit varies from one state to another:
- Georgia’s statute of limitations for most types of personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury (C.G.A. § 9-3-33).
- In Mississippi, an injured person must file a lawsuit within three years from the injury date ( Code. § 15-1-49).
- In Tennessee, the time limit for filing a personal injury claim is one year from the accident date ( Code Ann. § 28-3-104). The one-year deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits applies to cases involving negligence and intentional tort.
In all three states, the statute of limitations can be tolled (or, in other words, extended) if the plaintiff was under the age of 18 or declared mentally incompetent when they sustained the injury.
If you sue the at-fault party after the statute of limitations, the court will refuse to hear your case. While three, two, or even one year may seem like a long time, it’s important to start gathering evidence and preparing legal documentation as soon as possible.
What damages can you recover in a personal injury case?
Depending on the nature and severity of the victim’s injury, damages stemming from the injury can be devastating. Medical expenses can keep piling up while the victim is unable to return to work.
Fortunately, personal injury laws in Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi allow injured victims to seek compensation for their losses and damages caused by someone else’s negligence.
There are generally three types of recoverable damages in personal injury cases:
- Economic damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, the cost of rehabilitation and therapy, and the cost of repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed property, among others.
- Non-economic damages refer to any intangible and subjective losses such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and many more.
- Punitive damages may also be available to victims of someone else’s negligence. In Georgia, punitive damages are awarded when the plaintiff can prove that the defendant’s actions constituted malice, fraud, willful misconduct, oppression, or wantonness (C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1). Tennessee law requires that the defendant’s conduct amounted to recklessness, intentional acts, malice, or recklessness to award punitive damages (Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-39-104). In Mississippi, the victim must prove fraud, gross negligence, malice, reckless, willful, or wanton disregard for the safety of others (Miss. Code § 11-1-65).
It’s important to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Georgia, Tennessee, or Mississippi to evaluate your damages and determine how much your case is worth.
Why do you need a personal injury attorney?
There are at least five reasons to contact an Alpharetta personal injury attorney when trying to recover damages for your injury in Mississippi, Georgia, or Tennessee:
- An attorney will protect your legal rights. Your attorney will advise you on your options. Then explain your legal rights to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
- You can focus on your recovery. When you are represented by a skilled personal injury lawyer, you can focus on your recovery while your attorney is gathering evidence, preparing and filing paperwork, communicating with insurance companies, and negotiating a fair settlement offer.
- You will know how much your case is worth. A knowledgeable Gulfport personal injury attorney will estimate your damages and losses to determine how much your case is worth.
- An attorney will make sure that you meet all the applicable deadlines to file a claim. There are strict time limits when it comes to filing a personal injury claim in most states. When you hire an experienced lawyer, you will have a clear understanding of the deadlines.
- You will be able to negotiate a fair settlement offer. When you hire an attorney with excellent negotiation skills, you will be able to receive a settlement offer that reflects the full extent of your damages.
Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with our personal injury attorneys at Howe.Law to discuss your unique case. Our lawyers, who represent clients in Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi, are results-driven professionals and excellent negotiators. Get a free consultation by calling at 844-876-4357.