Top 10 Social Media Tips for Personal Injury Victims From Personal Injury Lawyer Memphis, TN Counts On!

memphis personal injury lawyerIt seems that everyone is on Facebook or some other type of social media these days. Many people are even addicted to it. If you have a Memphis, TN car wreck or personal injury claim, you should carefully consider the impact your social media posts could have on your case and the ultimate settlement or verdict you receive.  As an experienced personal injury lawyer Memphis TN knows and trusts, I can tell you that insurance companies and defense attorneys, as part of their evaluation of you and your case, perform social media account investigation. They will pull up your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media accounts to see if they can gather useful information about you, your activities, and the extent of your injuries.  We at Wiseman Bray PLLC put together the following social media tips for personal injury victims.

Personal Injury Social Media Tips

  1. Archive the content of current accounts. Destruction of potential evidence may create bigger problems than the information itself, so it is important that you do not delete any current content on your social media accounts.  Most social media sites include directions for archiving.

 

  1. Ideally, stop active use of social media. Consider stopping active use of social media altogether. Use it purely for passively looking at content posted by others, and do not post content of your own.

 

  1. At a minimum, be cautious. If you must post information about yourself, think about how posts might be perceived, especially when taken out of context. For example, posting photos of you on a camping trip may leave the false impression that you participate in vigorous physical activity without difficulty or pain.  Social media almost never provides a complete and accurate depiction of life since most people tend to post only the most positive or glamorous aspects of their lives.  You must assume that anything you post – including status updates, messages, and wall postings – will at some point be seen by the other lawyers, judges, and juries. NEVER post information that may relate to your injury claim, even indirectly.

 

  1. Disclose potential problems to a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN counts on. You may have already made potentially problematic posts before reading this. Remember, though, that you should not destroy or delete any information from your social media accounts.  However, do let your personal injury lawyer know so that he or she can avoid any surprises down the road.

 

  1. Turn on the highest privacy settings. Set your privacy settings to the highest level.  Make sure that only friends can see your information, rather than friends of friends, or the general public.

 

  1. Be aware of “friends.” Create “friend lists” so that only certain friends can see your photo albums or status updates.  Remove any “friends” you do not know well, or at all, and accept friend requests and followers only from people you know and trust.  

 

  1. Make yourself invisible to searches. As learned by a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN knows and relies on, you can remove yourself from Facebook search results by selecting “only friends” under the “search visibility” option in your profile settings.  You can also remove yourself from Google in Memphis TN by unchecking the box for “Public Search Listing” in your Internet Privacy settings. You should make comparable changes to privacy settings on all other social media accounts.

 

  1. Preserve all computers, tablets, and cell phones. If you lose or destroy an electronic communication device, the lawyer on the other side could try to portray it as deliberate destruction of evidence.  It is better to fight a battle over access to a device than to have a judge instruct a jury that it may legally assume and conclude the contents of the device would have been unfavorable to you.

 

  1. Don’t send messages or information about your case. Do not send to anyone, except for your lawyers and their staff, any email, text message, or “private” social media message about your claim, health, or activities. Those communications are not privileged and opposing counsel may be allowed to review any and all such communications.  Careless communication can destroy a case.

 

  1. Don’t join websites or web chat groups. You do not own the information you post online, and that information is highly searchable.  Do not enter any information on dating or insurance sites, post on message boards, participate in or comment on social media “private” groups or blogs, or use chat rooms.

Social Media in Other Types of Cases and Claims

These tips are useful if you are involved in any type of litigation or claim, such as apartment crime, negligent security, insurance claim, contract disputes, business litigation, car or auto accident, or premises liability.

Need a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN trusts?

Call us at Wiseman Bray PLLC  today at (901) 372-5003 or email us here.  Let us put our experience as negotiators, litigators, and trial lawyers to work for you.

Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement?

personal injury settlementMany of our Memphis and Tennessee injury clients ask – will I have to pay taxes on my settlement for personal injuries?  The general answer is NO.

Will the IRS make me pay taxes on my settlement?

Here is what the IRS currently says about Settlements and Taxability:

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.

What if I did take an itemized deduction for related medical bills in prior years?

Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement if I did?  You must include in income the part of the settlement that is for medical expenses you deducted in any prior year to the extent the deduction provided a tax benefit. For detailed information on how to report this, we recommend that you speak with your accountant or tax professional.

What about settlements for Emotional Distress or Mental Anguish?

If you receive a settlement for emotional distress or mental anguish stemming from a personal physical injury or sickness, then the settlement is treated the same as a personal injury, as noted above above. However, if the settlement for emotional distress or anguish does not arise out of a personal injury or sickness, then you must include the proceeds in your income. Here is what the IRS states on this issue:

If the proceeds you receive for emotional distress or mental anguish do not originate from a personal physical injury or physical sickness, you must include them in your income. However, the amount you must include is reduced by: (1) amounts paid for medical expenses attributable to emotional distress or mental anguish not previously deducted and (2) previously deducted medical expenses for such distress and anguish that did not provide a tax benefit. Attach to your return a statement showing the entire settlement amount less related medical costs not previously deducted and medical costs deducted for which there was no tax benefit. The net taxable amount should be reported as “Other Income.”

Punitive Damages are Taxable

If you receive an actual court award of punitive damages, those proceeds are taxable and should be reported as “Other Income.”  This is true even if the award stems from personal injury or sickness.

Recovery of Lost Wages is Taxable

If your personal injury settlement is itemized to include recovery for lost wages, then that portion of the settlement is taxable and should be reported as income.  During the negotiation phase, most attorneys are careful to clarify and/or minimize, if not eliminate, any apportionment of the settlement to wages.  You would likely also receive a Form 1099 for any recovery attributable to lost wages.  [Note: Wages and/or settlements paid in connection with work comp are not taxable.]

Interest on a Settlement is Taxable

What if the other side doesn’t pay my settlement all at once? Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement if they pay me interest? Yes. Interest you are paid on any settlement is taxable as “Interest Income.”

Do I have to tell my CPA or Tax Preparer about my settlement?

We advise that you do, so that he or she can advise you on the most up-to-date reporting requirements applying to your specific settlement.

Injured and seeking legal representation?

Call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here. We handle a wide range of personal injury cases.  Our approach to handling cases is what sets our firm apart. While some injury lawyers and firms take on hundreds of cases, and may seem more interested in quickly settling the case than seeking full and fair compensation for their client, we focus on identifying great clients and great relationships.

Victims need a lawyer with the experience, drive, and knowledge necessary to compete with the insurance companies who are handling your claim. Otherwise, you’ll end up being a victim twice, and you might not even realize it until it’s already too late. Our personal injury practice is led by Harvard-educated attorney Lang Wiseman. We know how to get fair and just results.

Click here to learn more about the work we do.

 

Who is the best lawyer near me?

best lawyer in memphis

By:  Lang Wiseman

You may have been hurt in an auto accident or truck accident and wondering:

  • Who is the best injury lawyer or best accident lawyer in Memphis, or Nashville?
  • Who is the best injury attorney near me?
  • Who is the best car wreck lawyer in Cordova, or Bartlett, or Germantown?
  • Who is the best car wreck attorney near me?

You may have been injured and Googled those questions, or perhaps others:

  • Who is the best personal injury attorney or wrongful death lawyer in Memphis?
  • Who is the best spinal cord injury lawyer, or brain injury lawyer near me, or in Memphis, or in Tennessee?
  • Who is the best lawyer to negotiate with an insurance company for damages for your injury?

Right question. Wrong answer.

You won’t ever hear any lawyer or attorney at Wiseman Bray PLLC claim that we are the “best” in Memphis – for a couple of different reasons. First, because there are plenty of fine lawyers and attorneys in the Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee area, including in Cordova, Bartlett, Germantown, Arlington, Millington, Collierville, and Lakeland.  We would seriously question any injury lawyer with the temerity to proclaim himself “the best.”

Second, based on Rule 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility back in 2004 specifically prohibited such self-serving, subjective statements by attorneys, including statements that a lawyer is “most qualified,” “excellent,” “top,” “most experienced,” “preferred”, or an “expert” in a particular field of law, such as personal injury, auto accident, or wrongful death.  The Board’s opinion was based on provisions of Rule 7 that have since been revised, and thus it is not entirely clear whether an outright prohibition is still technically enforceable. However, most reputable lawyers still find such statements to be highly questionable, and certainly in poor taste.

So, the next time you hear an attorney refer to herself or himself as an expert, or say that he or she is the best lawyer in a Tennessee town – whether on TV or on a website or in marketing materials – you should know that that lawyer is not only humility-challenged, but also possibly in violation of the basic Rules governing attorney conduct.

The right answer?

At Wiseman Bray PLLC, you’ll only hear us talk about our experience in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee injury claims, and about our unique and selective approach to personal injury and wrongful death claims. When it comes to injury cases, we’re not a high-volume, low-dollar settlement firm. We only take serious claims involving serious injuries or death, and we purposefully keep our caseload small so we can give our clients the attention they deserve.

You can check out our qualifications here, and you can click here to find out more about some of the actual results we’ve achieved in various types of cases, including car wrecks, truck accidents, slip and fall cases, and wrongful death claims. At the end of the day, we’ll allow our client ratings and peer reviews from such public resources as AVVO or Findlaw do the talking for us. Click on those links to see what others have to say about us.

Search our blog or  website for more helpful resources and information, and please call or email about a free consultation. We’ll respond in less than 24 hours to let you know whether we can help. Here’s our contact information.

It’s Prom Season: Liquor Liability for Allowing Minors to Drink Alcohol

liquor liability for prom party

Since it’s Prom Season, let’s talk about liquor liability for social hosts.

Let’s say you’re one of those parents who thinks, “teenagers are going to drink, so I’m going to allow my kids to drink in my home so they won’t do it somewhere else.”  Your teenager asks you if he can have a “Prom After-Party” at your home with a few friends. You agree. You also agree that they can “drink a little.” You tell your son that no one will be allowed to drive.

Now consider this, let’s say your daughter was in a car accident on her way home from Starbucks after her Prom.  Other than coffee, she hadn’t had a drop to drink. The other driver was an underage intoxicated teenage girl who had just left a “Prom After-Party” at a private home where alcohol was served. She disregarded the “no one is driving home” rule that the parents set for the evening.

So, what’s the law on parents who allow minors to drink in their homes?

Social Host Liquor Liability

In general, if you host a party and serve free alcohol to your guests, you’re not going to be liable if they become intoxicated and injure someone on the way home.  Tennessee Liquor Liability statutes are designed to apply mainly to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores, so there’s a distinction between selling alcohol and otherwise providing it. Tenn. Code Ann. 57-10-102.  However, as is usually the case, there are exceptions, meaning that even if you don’t sell alcohol, you could still become liable under certain circumstances.

Serving Alcohol to Minors

If you have a party at your home and serve alcohol to a minor who becomes intoxicated, you could be held liable if that minor causes injury or damage to a third person.  You could even be liable if you don’t provide the alcohol, but you know the minors are drinking it. This is because, in some cases, the law considers an adult host to be in a “special relationship” with a minor guest, such that the adult host owes a duty to ensure the safety of the minor guest, as well as to keep the minor from driving while intoxicated.

social host liquor liability

Liquor Liability Law in Tennessee is Complex

It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you have a potential Liquor Liability case.  While underage drinking is certainly illegal, civil liability implications are extremely fact-intensive and liability varies from case to case.

Wiseman Bray has offices in Memphis and Nashville TN. If you have a question about liquor liability, the Dram Shop Act, or social host laws in Tennessee, please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.

Example of a Liquor Liability Case Involving Minors

For an example of a liquor liability case involving minors and alcohol, read the Biscan v. Brown case.

 

Waivers and Releases Do Not Eliminate Liability for Gross Negligence: Ask the Injury Lawyer

release of liability, call injury lawyer

Chances are you’ve signed a Waiver or Release of Liability. Maybe you were going whitewater rafting or visited an indoor trampoline or “bouncy house” park. Businesses providing recreational activities generally require you to sign a form with lots of fine print before you can participate. These forms generally absolve the business of liability if you get hurt. Is that legal? Yes.  But there’s one thing to remember: In Tennessee, a person or business cannot contract away liability for “gross negligence.” That’s why you need to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you are injured, but someone tells you they’re not responsible because you signed a Release or Waiver.

Tennessee Law on Contracting Away Liability

Tennessee law allows people to enter into contracts that say that ABC will not be liable and that XYZ is “assuming the risk,” including the risk that ABC might commit negligence.  However, the law says that such a contract will not protect ABC if ABC is guilty of gross negligence. Buckner v. Varner, 793 S.W.2d 939, 941 (Tenn. Ct. App.1990).

What is Gross Negligence?

What is gross negligence and how is it different from regular negligence?  Regular negligence is the failure to use ordinary or reasonable care.  Gross negligence involves a higher degree of “bad” conduct and callous indifference to consequences. That’s why Tennessee law won’t allow people to contract away liability for gross negligence.  However, it’s harder to prove that someone committed gross negligence. You have to show:

  • The person committed ordinary negligence, and
  • The person acted “with utter unconcern for the safety of others, or … with such a reckless disregard for the rights of others that a conscious indifference to consequences is implied . . .” Leatherwood Wadley, 121 S.W.3d 682, 693–94 (Tenn. Ct. App.2003).

Consult with an Injury Lawyer

If you are injured or hurt while participating in a recreational activity, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer. Don’t automatically assume that you can’t recover because you signed a Release or Waiver. A personal injury lawyer can examine the language of any form you signed and can advise you whether you might have a claim.

Need an Injury Lawyer? We can help.

Call Wiseman Bray PLLC at (901) 372-5003 or email us here.  Visit our website to learn more about us and our work. Offices in Memphis and Nashville.

Texting and Walking? Advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer

texting and walking personal injury lawyer

Do you walk and text? If you are like most people, you probably do.  This personal injury lawyer advises you to stop! While we know that texting and driving is dangerous and has been banned in Tennessee, research also shows that pedestrians who are distracted with their phones are more likely to be hit by a vehicle.  According to one analyst, the number of pedestrian injuries due to cell phone use tripled over a a 7 year period (2004-2010), and the numbers continue to rise.

If you have a couple of minutes, watch this video and then run your own YouTube search and see how silly people look when they are walking and texting.

What if a Car Hits Me But I was Texting While Walking?

Call a personal injury lawyer. If you were walking and texting when you were hit, the driver’s insurance company will probably say you were at fault, but that is not necessarily always the case.  You should still speak with a personal injury lawyer about the specific facts of your case. In Tennessee, we have what is called “Comparative Fault.” That means you may be able to recover for your injuries, even if you bear some portion of the fault, as long as your fault isn’t equal to or greater than the driver’s fault.  You need a good personal injury lawyer who can sort through the facts and determine whether you are entitled to recovery.

Texting and Walking:  Advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer

(1)  Don’t text and walk. If you are injured, it could reduce or even eliminate any damages you would have otherwise been entitled to.

(2)  If you are injured while texting and walking, don’t automatically assume you are at fault. Call an injury lawyer to make sure.

Call Wiseman Bray PLLC. We Can Help.

When you need a lawyer, call Wiseman Bray PLLC. Contact us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.  We take cases throughout Tennessee and Mississippi, including Memphis, Shelby County, Bartlett, Germantown, and Cordova.

Do I Have a “Slip and Fall” Claim?

slip and fall lawyer in memphis

Do you have a slip and fall claim? You slipped and fell in a store. You felt embarrassed and hoped no one saw you.  All you wanted was to hurry up and get out of there. Once you reach the privacy of your car, though, you realize you are hurting pretty badly.  But you’re able to drive home where you try to rest, suck it up, and tough it out.  At the urging of a loved one, though, you finally give in and go to the emergency room later that night, or maybe the next day, or a couple days later, because the pain just won’t go away.  Once you get to the ER, tests and x-rays show that you have a small fracture or other problem that will require follow-up care. You begin to wonder if the store is at fault, and whether you might have a claim.

This scenario isn’t uncommon.  Similar thoughts go through the minds of many people who are injured in slip and fall accidents in Tennessee.  To be quite honest, due to the state of the law, it can be difficult to recover for a slip and fall in Tennessee. Sometimes people who are seriously injured in a slip and fall through no fault of their own are simply unable to recover for a variety of reasons. This is why you need a good lawyer on your side as soon as possible after a slip and fall accident.

Elements of a Slip and Fall Claim in Tennessee

slip and fall lawyerTo recover in a slip and fall case, in addition to the general elements of negligence, you must prove either that: (1) the condition that caused your fall was created by the property owner; or (2) the property owner had actual or constructive notice that the condition existed before your fall.  It is absolutely critical that you prove the condition or object that caused the fall.

Speculation about the cause of an injury is not enough to establish liability. The Tennessee Court of Appeals, in Willis v. McDonald’s Restaurants of Tennessee, Inc., recently granted summary judgment to a McDonald’s restaurant because the plaintiff could only say that she stepped on a hard, sharp object, which caused her to fall.  Because she could not identify what specifically caused her to fall, she could not prove that the restaurant either created the condition or knew or should have known about it before she fell.  Therefore, McDonald’s won and the jury never even got to hear the plaintiff’s case.

Why do I need a Slip and Fall Attorney?

An attorney can increase your chances of recovery by taking immediate steps to help you gather and preserve evidence that may help you prove your claim. For example, our firm regularly sends out “spoliation letters” notifying property owners of a potential claim against them and demanding that they preserve any and all evidence concerning that claim. Nowadays, many businesses have video surveillance that can sometimes show when and how a dangerous condition was created and how long it existed before an accident.

memphis slip and fall lawyer personal injury

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, feel free to call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here. Every case is unique and our personal injury attorneys–Lang Wiseman, Chris Patterson, Erin Shea, and Will Patterson— can help you navigate your particular circumstances.

What should I do if I am involved in a slip and fall?

  • Determine WHAT caused you to fall and document it. Take a picture or write down the specific details.
  • Report your accident. Don’t be embarrassed and just leave. Ask for a manager and explain what happened so that your claim is documented. Before you leave, ask for copies of the accident report and other forms created by the business in response to your report. Even if you later decide not to pursue a claim, go ahead and report your accident as soon as it happens.
  • Ask that any relevant video surveillance be preserved, including footage for the two (2) hour period of time before your fall.
  • Take photographs or video of the scene. Do not worry about the quality.
  • Take note of whether there are any warning signs or barricades in the area of your injury.
  • Write down the contact information for any witnesses. Other customers can sometimes be helpful. Write down the names of the employees in the area and of those who help you.
  • Take photos of your injuries.
  • Seek medical attention as needed.

Click here to see other Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about injury claims.

Watch Out for Pharmacy Errors – It Could Save Your Life!

pharmacy error lawyer memphis

Most pharmacists do a wonderful job. However, preventable mistakes  and pharmacy errors do sometimes occur.

In just the past few years, we’ve represented 2 different plaintiffs in cases involving 2 separate national chain pharmacies that mistakenly dispensed the wrong medication. And unfortunately, it had serious consequences in those couple of instances — so bad, in fact, that we ended up settling those cases for amounts exceeding six figures.

Recognize Pharmacy Errors

The best course of action for you is not to be a plaintiff in the first place. Resolve to be a responsible partner in your own healthcare. Communicate with your pharmacist and other healthcare providers. Ask questions and stay vigilant about your medications. Know what they are supposed to look like, and what your dosage is supposed to be.

For new medications or medications you are not familiar with, utilize helpful “pill identification” tools on websites such as ones found  here, or here, or here.

It could save your life.

Need a Lawyer?

Call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.

 

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003 Office

www.WisemanBray.com