Frequently Asked Questions

The information stated in these FAQ's does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Always seek advice from a lawyer before taking action .

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How would you describe GKH's practice?

GKH's 27 attorneys provide a broad range of services and bring a significant amount of experience, much like larger firms. At the same time, because we are not a large firm, we can be more flexible and provide legal services at a very competitive cost.

Do you offer free initial consultations?

Under most circumstances, GKH will offer a free initial consultation to a new client. When you contact us, please ask whether the initial consultation will be free.

Do you offer alternative fee arrangements?

Yes, GKH can in some circumstances offer a fixed fee, contingency fee or hybrid free arrangement instead of a hourly fee only agreement.

Business & Corporate Law

What kind of businesses do you represent?

We represent a very broad range of businesses, from small, unincorporated or single-owner businesses, to quasi-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and large multi-national organizations.

What type of structure do you recommend that I use for my new business?

Unfortunately, there is no business structure that fits every situation, as each entity type has its benefits and detriments. More often than not, a LLC can provide the best balance of flexibility, limited liability and a simplified tax structure; however, there are many circumstances in which a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, s-corporation or c-corporation is preferable.

What services does GKH provide for nonprofit organizations?

We represent nonprofit organizations in every step of their formation and operations, including entity formation, selection of exemption method, filing the exempt status applications with the IRS and multiple states, corporate governance issues, unrelated business income tax and other tax issues, to succession planning.

Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Is there a deadline to file a lawsuit?

Yes. Our legislature has passed statutes of limitation which limit the time in which you have to file a lawsuit in all types of cases. The length of time varies depending on the type of case and may be as little as 1 year in some types of cases. There are many factors to be considered when determining whether you have a claim and the deadline to file a lawsuit. If you believe that you have potential legal claim, the best course of action is to immediately contact an attorney.

What is discovery?

This is the process by which you discover what information and documents the opposing party has. The parties are allowed to question each other, in the form of written discovery requests, oral depositions, and sometimes the inspection of property, to learn information and to discover documents which may be helpful to each party's case. Each party is entitled to engage in discovery.

Does my case have to be heard by a jury?

You are not required to have a jury trial and often the decision whether to request a jury is a tactical decision. A jury trial rather than a bench trial (in front of a judge) is, by default, more complicated, time consuming, and expensive. The decision to have your case heard by a jury of your peers depends on the specific facts of your case.

What are arbitration and mediation?

Forms of alternative dispute resolution. If you have a dispute or legal claim against someone, you can attempt to resolve the matter yourself, start litigation by suing that person, and/or engage in alternative dispute resolution. In some cases, alternative dispute resolution may be required by a statute, the court, or by a contract or other document which you have signed. People are more willing to engage in alternative dispute resolution today due to the time and expense of litigation. Arbitration and mediation are different in several ways but similar in that both can provide an alternative to court and a resolution to the litigation process.

Health Law

Does GKH represent individual physicians, or just medical practices and hospitals?

GKH represents a significant number of individual physicians and provides a full range of services for them, from reviewing their first employment contract out of residency, assisting them in becoming a partner in a medical practice, aiding them in an investigation before a health-related board, and tax and estate planning.

Are non-competition agreements really enforceable?

In Tennessee, non-competition agreements are enforceable provided that they are in writing, the duration is two years or less, and the geographic restriction is no greater than either a ten mile radius from the primary practice site of the physician or the county of the primary practice site. The above limitations do not apply when a non-competition agreement is executed in conjunction with the sale of a medical practice, in which case the non-competition must be reasonable. Further, non-competition agreements do not apply to ER physicians.

Should I form a professional corporation or professional limited liability company for my practice?

It is highly desirable to form one of those types of entities for your practice because of the limited liability protection. Note, however, that the protection would likely not extend to a malpractice claim. The choice of whether to use a professional corporation or professional limited liability company depends on the circumstances because they have different tax structures and corporate formalities.

Bankruptcy & Creditors' Rights

I provided services to the improvement of property but did not get paid, can I file a lien to ensure payment?

Under the revised Tennessee materialman's act in 2007, Tennessee places contractors in two categories: Prime Contractors and Remote Contractors. In short, Tenn. Code Ann. 66-11-101 defines a Prime Contractor as a person or business that has a direct contractual relationship with the owner of the property. Alternatively, if you do not have a contract agreement with the owner, you are designated a Remote Contractor. Both Prime Contractors and Remote Contractors may file liens; however, Tennessee law is specific to each category. It is recommended you contact a licensed Tennessee attorney that has experience with Tennessee's mechanic's lien statutes because failing to perform the required steps could preclude you from obtaining a valid lien.

I have a direct contract with the owner, how can I protect my right to file a valid lien against the property?

Within 90 days of completing your work on the property or providing materials to it, file a sworn statement with the register of deeds. In the statement, outline all work and materials furnished to the property and the costs as well as a legal description of the property. Send by certified or registered mail a notice to the property's owner stating that you are asserting a lien against the property, and provide the owner with a copy of the filed lien. Give this notice within 90 days of your completion of work on the property or your delivery of materials to the property. A prime contractor has one (1) year to file a lawsuit against the owner to enforce his lien.

It appears I am a remote contractor, how can I protect my right to file a valid lien against the property?

Under Tennessee law, Remote Contractors must perform additional steps to ensure they are able to file a valid lien against the property. Generally speaking, Remote Contractors shall serve, within ninety (90) days of the last day of each month within which work or labor was provided or materials furnished, a notice of nonpayment for the work, labor or materials provided to the owner and Prime Contractor in contractual privity with the remote contractor that the Remote Contractor's account is unpaid.

Additionally, Remote Contractors must, within ninety (90) days of completing your work on the property or providing materials to it, file a sworn statement with the register of deeds. In the statement, outline all work and materials furnished to the property and the costs as well as a legal description of the property. Send by certified or registered mail a notice to the property's owner stating that you are asserting a lien against the property, and provide the owner with a copy of the filed lien. Give this notice within 90 days of your completion of work on the property or your delivery of materials to the property. A Remote Contractor has ninety (90) days to file a lawsuit against the owner to enforce his lien.

What happens if I do not comply with the Tennessee Mechanic's Lien statutes?

The short answer is you could lose your right to assert a valid lien. Also, if you lose your right to assert a valid lien, you could be responsible for paying the costs and fees of the owner if you improperly file a lien. It is very important that you consult with an experienced attorney that has dealt with the Tennessee Mechanic's Lien Statutes and is familiar with the rigors of protecting Prime and Remote Contractor's right to assert a lien.

Labor & Employment

What types of Labor and Employment (L&E) issues does GKH handle?

GKH's L&E attorneys provide a full range of Labor and Employment services to business and individual clients. Our attorneys regularly counsel clients on compliance with all state and federal labor and employment laws and regulations, including laws governing wage and hour issues, workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, ADA, FMLA, ERISA, Title VII, etc. We also represent clients in state and federal litigation on matters that encompass all aspects of the employer-employee relationship, including employment contracts, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, discrimination and retaliation claims, administrative complaints to agencies such as the EEOC and OFCCP, as well as in claims filed in state and federal courts.

Can GKH handle Labor and Employment matters arising outside of Tennessee?

Yes. Our attorneys are licensed in many states other than Tennessee and can associate counsel as needed in any jurisdiction in which matters affecting our clients are pending. We regularly represent clients in federal court and before federal agencies throughout the country. We also routinely handle legal matters for our clients with locations in multiple jurisdictions, or for clients who simply need legal services in states outside of Tennessee. In all circumstances where local counsel is associated, GKH maintains control and oversight of the litigation.

Can GKH help my business comply with state and federal employment laws?

Yes. Our attorneys regularly provide ongoing counseling, up to and including in-house presentations, to clients on compliance with all laws and regulations affecting the workplace. We also assist clients in drafting Employee Handbooks and other workplace policies, drafting employment agreements with comprehensive confidentiality, non-compete, and employee invention policies, conducting effective workplace performance reviews, consistently applying disciplinary policies, and properly terminating employment relationships when necessary.

Can GKH assist me if I feel I was discriminated against by my employer or if I believe I was terminated wrongfully?

Yes. If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you or otherwise violated any laws governing the employer-employee relationship (workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, etc.), one of our L&E attorneys can assist you in evaluating your case and, in proper circumstances, filing a claim on your behalf.

Family Law

Is Tennessee a no-fault divorce state?

If the parties can agree to a complete settlement of all issues, then the parties can be divorced upon the grounds of irreconcilable differences, which is no fault. In the event the parties cannot agree, however, and need the assistance of the Court to provide for a resolution of their divorce, then at least one party must allege grounds for divorce.

Can I obtain a no-contest divorce with a single attorney?

Other than in an exceptional situation, our firm does not handle divorce cases for both parties. It is our goal to provide the best possible service and advice to you regarding your case and the possible outcomes of your case. If we represent both parties, then it would be a conflict to provide advice to either party. We will, however, work with one party to create the paperwork for a full and complete settlement and provide those documents to the other party. The other party can proceed without an attorney if he or she so chooses.

Where do I obtain a divorce if my spouse has moved to a different state?

If your spouse has moved to another state, and you have lived in Tennessee for at least 6 months, then you can obtain a divorce in Tennessee.

Does your firm collect unpaid alimony and child support, provide assistance in child custody cases or assist in pre-marital issues, such as drafting a prenuptial agreement?

Yes, GKH represents clients in each of these situations.

What is your retainer fee?

Our firm assesses the facts of each case before quoting a retainer fee, so the fee fits the facts of your case. We charge our time by the hour against your retainer fee. In the event we are able to handle your case for less than the retainer fee provided, then you will be afforded a refund of the balance of your retainer. In the event your case becomes more complicated than we anticipated, and the retainer funds have been used in full, then you will be billed on a monthly basis.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

In Tennessee, if the parties do not have minor children, then by law the divorce will take a minimum of 60 days. If the parties have minor children, then by law the divorce will take a minimum of 90 days. Some cases can be fully resolved very quickly when the parties agree, and you will only have to wait for the mandatory waiting period to lapse for the Judge to approve your agreement and the divorce to be granted. Other highly contested cases can take several months to resolve.

Administrative Law

What is the definition of Administrative Law?

Administrative Law is basically defined as "the law governing the organization and operation of the executive branch of government (including independent agencies) and the relations of the executive branch with the legislative and judicial branches of government, and the public." Administrative Law is broken down into three parts: (1) the statutes creating and endowing the agencies with powers and establishing rules of substantive law relating to those powers; (2) the body of agency-made law, for example, the administrative rules, regulations and procedures for the government agencies and bodies; and (3) the scope of agency authority and the agency's enforcement powers as well as the legal principles governing the acts of public agents when those acts conflict with private rights.

Who creates administrative agencies?

Administrative agencies are created by governments (federal, state, county, and municipal) to administer particular enacted laws, such as (on the federal level) the Social Security Act, Workmen's Compensation Act, the National Labor Relations Act, etc.

What do administrative agencies do?

The obligations and duties of administrative agencies usually include rulemaking, adjudication, and enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. The decision-making process of national administrative agencies (for example, tribunals, boards or commissions) are part of a regulatory scheme, which includes such areas as international trade, manufacturing, the environment, taxation, broadcasting, immigration and transportation.

What is the difference between a regulation and a statute?

Legislatures (for example, the U.S. Congress, the Tennessee General Assembly, the Hamilton County Commission) enact statutes. In some instances, the "People of a State" may also enact statutes and constitutional provisions. Administrative agencies adopt, amend and repeal regulations under the authority granted to them by either constitutional provisions or by statutes. Unless the Legislature has created an exemption, agencies must follow the procedures in the Administrative Procedure Act when adopting, amending or repealing regulations.

What occurs at an administrative law hearing?

Administrative hearings are adversarial proceedings. However, unlike proceedings before a court, administrative hearings are usually informal. The administrative law judge (who is not a "judge" in a court of law) meets with the adverse parties, which usually consist of the representatives from an agency and an applicant seeking agency benefits. Each side presents its evidence and elicits testimony from witnesses. These hearings are often tape recorded, as opposed to being recorded by a court reporter. The administrative law judge then renders a decision called an administrative order, which may be reviewed later by a higher level within the agency or by a court.

Criminal Law

Should I obtain legal counsel?

It is highly suggested. DUI offenses are significant and can have a lasting negative effect on your record. The biggest mistake is failing to take any action at all. We highly suggest you contact an experienced Tennessee DUI attorney. Our initial consultation is free and the fee will be determined based upon the specific facts of your case.

Are DUI laws different in Tennessee and Georgia?

Yes. Tennessee and Georgia have enacted separate and distinct laws against DUI. Additionally, Tennessee and Georgia have different court's that handle your DUI case differently. If you have been charged with a DUI offense, it is important that you talk with an attorney that has specific knowledge regarding that state's DUI statutes as well as experience in the particular court your case has been assigned.

What assistance does an attorney provide?

Our attorneys offer a free initial consultation. At that meeting, we obtain the facts regarding your charges, including the evidence collected by the charging officer, the specific court your case has been assigned, and whether there are any prior offenses. It is important to note that the facts regarding DUI cases are all different from client to client but the procedure regarding your defense(2) does not change. Depending on the court your case is pending in, we offer the experience to guide you through each court and provide you important information to ensure you receive the proper defense.

If I lose my license, can I get a restricted license?

The short answer is yes, but only for first time offenders. If you have a previous DUI conviction on your record and plead to a second DUI offense, you are not eligible for a restricted license during your year of probation but the 2nd year of suspension is eligible for a restricted license. Third and subsequent DUI convictions are not eligible for a restricted license of any kind.

What happens if I am found guilty or plead guilty to a DUI?

It depends on how many prior DUI convictions you have on your record. Generally speaking, there is a monetary fine, required alcohol safety classes, a loss of license for at least one year and other various responsibilities. Also, you will be responsible for court costs and, in addition, fined between $350.00 and $1,100.00 depending on your history.


I am a permanent resident of the United States, may I help a relative become a lawful permanent resident?

Yes, you may help a relative become a lawful permanent relative based on your status. You will need to sponsor your relative and be able to prove that you have sufficient income or assets to support your relative. This process begins by filing Form I-130. As a permanent resident you may file a petition for your husband or wife, and unmarried children, regardless of the age of the children.

What is an affidavit of support?

If you sponsor a relative's immigration by filing an I-130, then you must agree to be that relative's financial sponsor and file an affidavit of support. The affidavit of support, Form I-864, helps ensure that new immigrants will not need to rely on public benefits. If you file an affidavit of support and the person whom you filed it for later receives certain public benefits, then the agency that gave the benefits can require that you repay the money.

How can I avoid immigration consultant fraud?

Only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Board of Immigration Appeals-recognized organization can give you legal advice regarding immigration matters. Be cautious of "notarios" who offer immigration services. Make sure to ask about their qualifications and ask to see copies of their Board of Immigration Appeals accreditation letter or bar certificate. Never sign a blank application or form!

Personal Injury & Wrongful Death

If I sustain personal injuries in an accident, how long to I have to file suit?

Under Tennessee law, if you wait too long to file a claim relating to a personal injury, your claim may be denied or dismissed regardless of its merits. In many cases, you only have one year from the date of the accident to file suit. Accordingly, it is prudent to seek legal advice for any claims relating to personal injuries sustained in an accident within one year from the accident.

If I sustain personal injuries in an accident, should I wait until I have recovered from my injuries before contacting an attorney?

No. Contacting an attorney as early as possible from the date of an accident, in most instances, is advantageous. Once retained, an attorney can begin an investigation into the cause of the accident, interview witnesses while their knowledge of the accident is still fresh in their minds, obtain and preserve documentary evidence, inspect and photograph the accident scene, and consult with your medical providers about your condition.

If my spouse is involved in an accident and does not survive, can I file a claim for wrongful death?

Yes. Under Tennessee law, an individual may file a claim for wrongful death on behalf of his or her deceased spouse.

If I miss work as a result of personal injuries I have sustained in an accident, can I recover for the income I have lost?

In Tennessee, you can recover lost earnings if personal injuries prevent you from going to work. It is advisable to keep records of all time that you miss from work and any other financial opportunities that you are forced to forego as a result of your injuries.

If I received a notice that a lawsuit has been filed against me or my company, what do I need to do?

Generally, you have 30 days to answer a complaint (lawsuit). If the lawsuit is filed in Federal Court then the time to answer is 20 days. When you are served suit papers, you should contact your liability insurance carrier and an attorney immediately.

If I am injured due to someone else's fault and my insurance company pays my medical expenses, can I make a claim against the responsible party?

Yes. If your insurance company pays your bills for medical treatment that was necessary due to someone else's fault, it will be subrogated to your claim. Subrogation means that if you recover from the responsible party, you will have to repay your insurance company the amount it paid. Although you will have to repay your insurance company for the medical expenses it paid, you can recover for any other losses such as your lost wages, permanent disability, pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

If one of my family members, other than my husband or wife, dies due to someone else's fault, do I have a claim against the responsible party?

Yes. In most circumstances, immediate family members have a claim for their lost loved one's love, affection, support, comfort and society.

Grant Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C., serves clients in Tennessee cities such as Chattanooga, Cleveland, East Ridge, Red Bank, Jasper, Collegedale, Athens, Decatur, Altamont, McMinnville, Manchester, Dunlap, Winchester, Fayetteville, Soddy-Daisy, Etowah, Dayton, Charleston, Tullahoma, Fort Oglethorpe, Dalton, Chatsworth, Calhoun, Summerville, Lafayette, Ringgold, Chattanooga Valley, Chickamauga, Tunnel Hill and Trenton.

Counties: Hamilton County, Bradley County, McMinn County, Sequatchie County, Grundy County, Franklin County, Coffee County, Warren County, Dade County, Catoosa County.

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