• Increasing the Value of your Personal Injury Claim

    An angry client once proclaimed that the insurance industry only has two planks in its business platform: Take in a premium and never pay a claim. “That’s why they have all the money.” Well, yes and no. Start with the basic premise that everyone works for someone. While an insurance adjuster may be highly motivated to pay the minimum compensation in the range of fair value on a personal injury claim, the adjuster handling your claim is limited in making the decision on value based on what is presented on your behalf for consideration. The adjuster assigned to handle your claim answers to a supervisor or a claims committee every month or so to give a report of how much money has been set aside, or placed in reserve, to conclude your personal injury claim. The insurance company knows the value of its assets, but accounting principles and sound business practice require that the insurer set reserves on what it is going to pay out in claims. The primary and overriding factor in setting the pay out reserve is the nature and extent of the medical record. If you are injured and you expect to be well compensated for your injuries, don’t sit at home and suffer in silence. Treat with competent health care providers and generate a medical record that will provide an objective third party narrative of your injuries that will serve to document them. We live in a fast paced, complex world. Everyone is busy. It takes time to go to the doctor. It can consume valuable time that detracts from pressing personal matters. But unless you obtain correlation of your injuries through the medical record, little credence is going to be given to the assertion that “I am hurt; I am injured”. Pictures say a thousand words. Imaging studies can go a long way in validating your subjective complaints of pain. Although a plain series X-ray may be limited to isolating fractures or misalignment of the skeletal structures, CT scans, MRIs and nerve conduction studies can be invaluable in the confirmation of soft tissue lesions, ruptured discs, nerve root compression and many of the common presentations that cause pain, impairment and disability. If you stay at home and suffer in silence, your claim adjuster will not have any narrative in the form of a third party record to defend the amount of money placed in reserve to conclude your claim for injury when he or she is called upon by a superior to defend the reserve set to resolve your assigned case file. People work hurt every day. Although lost wages and diminution of earning capacity are valid and compelling elements of recoverable damages in a personal injury claim, if you must work to put food on the table while you are injured, by all means continue to treat for your injuries as long as you have symptoms and the treatment plan is giving you relief and improvement from your condition. Most physical therapy and other treatment facilities have evening hours to accommodate those patients who work day time hours. Your claim file should contain medical clinical notes on your interaction with your doctor that tell the history of how you were injured, assessment of those injuries, the treatment plan and your ultimate prognosis upon release from treatment. The medical record is the story of your personal injuries and it should read as a straight forward, persuasive documentary as to the nature and extent of your injuries and why you deserve substantial compensation. Go write it.  
  • UM Coverage (Uninsured/Underinsured). 24 % of Drivers in Tennessee have no automobile liability insurance. Protect Yourself and Your Family.

    The best protection that you can give yourself and your family in the event of personal injury suffered in a automobile or motorcycle accident is to insure that you have adequate insurance coverage before the accident ever happens. The Insurance Research Council estimated that in 2009, 24 per cent of all drivers on the road in Tennessee had NO LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE (www.insurance-research.org). Many other Tennessee drivers have only the statutory mandated $25,000 minimum liability coverage. Uninsured/Underinsured coverage (UM) is generally inexpensive compared to collision coverage on auto policies and can very quickly become the most important portion of your policy if you are injured. The vast majority of motor vehicle accident judgements are fully dischargeable in bankruptcy. Too often, the only resource available to the injured party is insurance limits. Parties with substantial assets have substantial coverage as a rule. Those individuals with no assets have nothing to lose to begin with and are not as motivated to seek high liability coverage. Insurance companies must offer its policy holder an equal amount of UM to that issued for the insured’s liability coverage at the time the policy is placed into effect. In fact, Um coverage must be declined in writing by the policyholder when the policy is issued for the insurance company to avoid exposure for UM bodily injury claims. Unfortunately, a significant number of policy applicants decline UM coverage for a very simple reason: it lowers the premium. Just as an initial policyholder may decide not to have UM coverage to save money, other drivers are going a step further by declining to be insured at all. This is known as “going bare”, and if you’re on the wrong side of this equation, you can end up with the bare fact that you have no coverage to compensate you for your injuries. Some years ago, Tennessee passed a law required proof of insurance before a newly purchased automobile could be driven off the lot. Sound good? The problem is that for as little as fifty dollars, an individual may obtain a policy binder “proof of insurance” on a payment plan to satisfy the requirement. The person then simply doesn’t make any more payments on the plan. The insurance policy is cancelled, but the auto buyer is on the road running bare. Keep your limits up. It can cost a very modest amount monthly to increase your liability/UM coverage from $25,000 to $100,000. It’s an investment worth making.
  • Violation of Probation

    It is estimated that over 90% of criminal cases conclude with some sort of a plea agreement between the defendant and the government.  Often times, there are conditions attached such as substance abuse treatment, community service, or restitution owed to a victim. Failure to abide by these conditions could result in the filing of a violation of probation. Navigating your way through probation can be just as challenging and nerve-wracking as dealing with pending charges, and having an experienced criminal defense attorney to help guide you is invaluable, so as to avoid a violation of probation. Recently, Ryan Leaf, the former college quarterback phenom and epic NFL bust has been in the news for his criminal behavior.  Unfortunately, he violated the terms of release on his newest sentence in Montana and was revoked from a drug treatment facility to  prison.  While he was on community corrections rather than probation, he was given a shot to avoid prison if he could complete drug treatment and failed to do so.  His case serves as a painful reminder of the consequences associated with failing to follow a court’s order. If you or a loved one face criminal charges or a violation of probation, it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney to understand the nature of the charges and what is at stake.  Contact Forrest Wallace at the Law Offices of Gary Dawson to make an appointment today, at (865) 525-7113.
  • Tennessee Felony Expungement Law

    Recently, the notorious Houston brothers from Roane County were arrested by ATF agents on federal firearm offenses.  Their charges include being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.  While each case is unique, their arrest does serve as a powerful reminder.  If you have been convicted a felony, misdemeanor domestic assault, or have an active Order of Protection down against you, you cannot possess a firearm.  In certain limited situations, you may be able have your prohibitive conviction set aside through the expungement process. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary Dawson handle such cases.  Over this past summer, a new law went into effect in Tennessee that enables those convicted of certain low grade felonies (and most misdemeanors) to have the judgement and court documents expunged from their permanent record.  Once completed, you may then move to re-establish your right to possess a firearm.  Please note that domestic assault convictions do not qualify  and never by expunged.  The remaining expungement requirements under the new law are onerous.  You must wait five years from the date your sentence is concluded, not have any other convictions, pay and complete all the terms of the original sentence, remain alcohol and drug free, and pay a $350 filing fee. In the alternative, if your charges are dismissed outright, or you successfully complete judicial or pretrial diversion, you may be eligible for an expungement immediately.  Take every advantage to maintain a clean record.  You should speak with a criminal defense attorney to see if you qualify. If you have questions about expungments, criminal charges, or firearm liability, contact criminal defense attorney Forrest Wallace at the Law Offices of Gary Dawson to make an appointment today, at (865) 525-7113.
  • US Supreme Court hears DUI blood draw arguments

    If a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he may request that you submit to a test of either your blood or breath to measure the amount of intoxicants in your system.  In certain situations, Tennessee law enforcement officers may detain you for a mandatory blood draw, such as a vehicle accident that causes injury, if you are a multiple DUI offender, or if a child under age 16 is with you in the car.  Beyond these and other limited exceptions, the police must petition a judge or magistrate for a search warrant before capturing a blood sample. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether warrantless blood samples were proper in ordinary DUI investigations under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The Missouri case sheds light on a trend by states to chip away at constitutional requirements in these situations, but fortunately one expert felt that the justices weren’t swayed by the government’s arguments.  Essentially, only in the limited scenarios as mentioned before will the government be allowed to use exigent circumstances to avoid 4th Amendment warrant requirements.  The Court’s opinion should be issued in a few months. If you or a loved one have been charged with Driving Under the Influence, it is very important that you immediately consult a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable and aggressive, so as to understand your rights and protect your interests.  Contact Forrest Wallace at the Law Offices of Gary Dawson at (865) 525-7113 to schedule an appointment.
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    Welcome, we will being posting soon.  I hope you stay tuned.  See my profile on AVVO.