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Knoxville Personal Injury Law Blog

Tractor-trailer accident claims life of serviceman

An automobile accident involving a tractor-trailer has claimed the life of a Chambersburg hometown hero who bravely served our country both domestically and abroad. The Army scout, who was a veteran of multiple tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was struck by a tractor-trailer while traveling through Tennessee.

The tragic event occurred shortly after noon on Saturday, Oct. 15, as the young man was traveling North on Interstate 75, near Athens. He was towing a trailer with his truck and had pulled over onto the shoulder. A tractor-trailer, also heading North on I-75, ran off the road near where the young man had pulled off, and struck the truck and trailer from behind, sending them across both lanes and into the median. The truck immediately burst into flames. Police confirmed after the fact that the young man had been retrieved from the vehicle, but had been pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Four ways to increase the odds of a successful SSD application

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is designed to provide benefits to those who are unable to work due to illness or injury. Although these benefits are supposed to be helpful, the process used to receive these benefits often causes frustrations to those who need them most.

Reduce frustrations with these proactive steps

Those who are attempting to navigate the application system can take some proactive steps to increase the odds of a successful application. These steps include:

  • Gather information. In order to receive approval for these benefits, the applicant must basically establish that he or she is unable to work for at least one year or that the condition resulting in the application for benefits will result in death. Carefully review the application and make sure to include all information needed to establish this claim.

Risks of animal bites

While it may not be the kind of injury that one usually associates with a personal injury, animal bites are one of the most common kinds of personal injury suits throughout the country. Animal bites can range in seriousness from relatively inconsequential to fatal, and may leave a victim permanently disabled and disfigured in some terrible cases.

By far, the most common type of animal bite is a dog bite, since they are the kind of animal most commonly domesticated and living among humans. Cats also bite, although they are significantly less common and usually inflict less initial damage due to their relatively small size. However, cat bites are more likely to become infected, due to how sharp their teeth are and how deeply they can puncture into flesh. Both should be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if it doesn't seem necessary at first. Other animals that commonly inflict bite wounds include marine animals like eels, certain kind of fish or reptiles such as snakes and alligators.

Drugged driving makes roads more deadly in Tennessee

Tennessee has seen an increase in traffic fatalities, putting the Volunteer State on a trajectory to break a three-year run in declining traffic fatalities. Some authorities are beginning to suspect the rise is due in part to an overall increase in drugged driving over drunk driving. While the exact statistics will take some more time to calculate, forensic laboratories report an overwhelming number of toxicology tests to complete.

This is causing some discussion around the need for more specific legal regulations around drug consumption and driving, such as are currently on the books for alcohol consumption. Whereas there is a specific legal threshold for how much alcohol a person can have in his or her bloodstream while driving, there is currently no such threshold for other impairing substances.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - Hearing Office Update

A major concern for my clients applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is the time it takes to get their case decided once they reach the hearing level. I periodically try to provide an update on the processing times and approval rates for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims for some hearing offices (ODAR) in Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky. Please remember that these statistics are only for claims pending at the hearing level or Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The claims at a hearing office have already been through the Application and Reconsideration steps (typically 6-12 months of waiting already).


· Average processing time: 525 days (up from 444 in May of 2015)

· 44% cases approved

Knoxville, Tennessee:

· Average processing time: 555 (up from 537 days in December of 2015)

· 47% cases approved

Chattanooga, Tennessee:

· Average processing time: 567 (up from 521 days in May of 2015 though trending slightly lower this year)

· 50% approved

Kingsport, Tennessee:

· Average processing time: 454 days (up from 339 in April of 2015)

· 61% cases approved

Nashville, Tennessee

· Average processing time: 484 days (up from 465 in December of 2015)

· 48% cases approved

Franklin, Tennessee

· Average processing time: 516 days (up from 475 in December of 2015)

· 52% cases approved

Middlesboro, Kentucky

· Average processing time: 497 days (up from 410 in April of 2015 but trending downward for 2016)

· 41% cases approved

The hearing office staff work hard and understand the frustrations of the claimants and representatives, but they are hamstrung by the workload and budgetary restraints.

Do smartwatches increase chances of car accidents?

We live in the era of smart technology and it seems as if everything from regular household items, such as refrigerators, to personal items, such as watches, are now technologically driven. Techno junkies in Tennessee are joining everyone else in chasing after the newest fad, but are these always the safest and best option? Many people are questioning the safety of using a smartwatch while driving and the extent to which it can distract a driver, thus leading to car accidents.

A smartwatch is seen as a hands-free device, but when you think of the way a watch is worn it is obvious that your hand is needed to see what is on the screen. So, it is actually quite the opposite. You may not need to look at or touch the screen of the watch for a message to appear, but to read the message you have to take your hand of the steering wheel to see what is happening on the screen while focusing on a tiny bright screen. All of this actually makes driving while using a smartwatch a potential recipe for disaster.

Three common questions about Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that is designed to offer financial assistance to those with certain disabilities that are unable to work. In order to qualify, applicants must meet certain requirements.

What are the requirements? A recent publication in The Motley Fool discussed these benefits, noting that they are designed to help those who are unable to work. In order to qualify, the applicant must have what the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a disability. This disability must prevent the applicant from working and must generally be expected to last at least a year.

40 percent of truck accidents linked to fatigue

Getting into a car wreck is always a stressful event, but an accident involving a commercial truck can be more than stressful - it can be catastrophic. The reason is based on simple physics. One vehicle weighs significantly more than the other, takes longer to stop and has more momentum when crashing into another vehicle. Passengers within the considerably smaller car can suffer from serious injuries when these two vehicles collide.

Workplace hearing loss is serious

Hearing loss on the job is a serious problem for millions of Americans, many of whom do not realize that the damage is being done until it is too late. The costs add up for everyone involved, too - in 2015, U.S. businesses paid out penalties of more than $1.5 million because of not protecting workers from damaging noise. Beyond that, workers' compensation benefits for hearing loss disabilities top $240 million each year across the country.

One of the reasons that hearing loss can be so devastating is that it is irreversible. One the damage has been done to nerve endings in the inner ear, that damage cannot be undone. It behooves both employees and employers to take the steps necessary to protect workers' hearing, in great part because the solutions can be so simple, while the costs can be so great. A factory worker who is not supplied with sufficient hearing protection, which may cost the employer pennies per worker, may end up costing the employer many thousands of dollars. Likewise, a worker who does not take the initiative to request hearing protection that is appropriate to the job may be condemning themselves to a life of isolation and problematic communication, and in some cases limiting their employability later on.

Noisy jobs equals good chances of a workplace injury

Those working in Tennessee industries such as mining, construction and even manufacturing may be used to working under noisy conditions, but do they realize the danger of hearing loss? While it has been reported as the workplace injury suffered most commonly by workers in the United States, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations guiding noise exposure safety are outdated. Now critics are calling on OHSA to update the regulations made back in the 1970s.

It is estimated that an average of 22 million people work in conditions where noise levels are considered hazardous, and workers' compensation claims in excess of $200 million are paid annually in this regard. These figures clearly call for attention to be paid to the regulations set so many years ago so as to conform to the societal changes that have occurred in the intervening years. Interestingly, a recent study found that it is not employees working in high noise levels who are the most at risk, but rather those working in environments where the levels of noise are seen as moderate.

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Tony Farmer & John Dreiser

1356 Papermill Pointe Way
Knoxville, TN 37909

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