Rocky learned many of the life lessons he now uses to help his clients while growing up near Buffalo Trail in Morristown Tennessee, a small town about 35 miles east of Knoxville. At Central Point Baptist Church, he was taught the proper order of core values by his grandmother – faith, family, friends, and then finances. Rocky’s dad worked as a millwright. His mom was an aide for Head Start. The family lived paycheck to paycheck. Rocky watched his parents work hard for what little they had. They overcame obstacles and made ends meet. By their example, Rocky learned that if you work hard, you can make it.
On August 5, 1988, when Rocky was 15, his dad, Larry McElhaney, injured his low back at work. He filed a workers’ compensation claim, but the insurance company would not pay or provide timely medical treatment. Larry had no choice but to return to work and struggle through the pain. It took three years for Rocky’s dad to get the surgery he needed.
Rocky saw the stress on his dad’s face grow as he dealt with the physical pain of his injury, along with financial strain as the bills piled up. The family was eventually evicted from their home and forced to move. For over three years, Rocky’s father experienced textbook-case stall tactics and red tape of an insurance company who’d wrongfully refused to give him the benefits he’d earned. He was worn down.
Larry eventually hired a lawyer. The insurance company still refused to accept responsibility. In fact, in court papers, the insurance company denied it owed Larry anything for his injury. With the help of that lawyer, the family finally got justice.
That was the moment when Rocky decided to become an attorney – to fight for people the way that lawyer fought for his dad and his family.
WHAT ROCKY KNOWS FOR SURE
Rocky knows that hard working people who are injured should not be subjected to additional hardship because a big corporation or insurance company refuses to do the right thing. Rocky believes that injured people deserve an attorney they can trust to ensure that those that harm them are held fully accountable. Big corporations, and the billion-dollar insurance companies that back them should be held to the same standard we teach our children – to immediately take responsibility when they cause damage to another, and fully pay for the harms and losses.
Representing only the people, not the powerful, over the past 18 years, Rocky has built this law firm to fight for people like you. What makes Rocky different is that he really cares about his clients. Every injured person is his dad, and every ruthless insurance company is the one that impacted his family. From that viewpoint, Rocky and his team fight to make sure every client and their family get the maximum compensation for what they go through, not just a quick settlement to get them out the door.
ONE WAY ROCKY IS DIFFERENT
Rocky builds friendships with his clients, not just professional relationships.
Bridget Pack first hired Rocky in 2000 and they still text to this day. Rocky went to trial for Ernest Atkinson in 2002. Ernie and Rocky would meet at least once every other month at the Beacon Light restaurant on Highway 100 to eat breakfast until Ernie passed away in 2006. Rocky knows your name and your story; not just your case number and date of injury.
The McElhaneys are passionate about their involvement with Gallatin CARES, a local food pantry, where they help Sumner County families who are going through hard times. Rocky knows that many of us are only one missed paycheck away from needing help. He sees the value of his firm’s and his family’s contribution to CARES, as they often hear stories about how the firm’s own clients have reached out to the organization to stay afloat during the course of their case.
Rocky works hard and plays harder.
He likes to SCUBA dive and snow ski. He enjoys Tennessee football games in autumn and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida in springtime. His adventurous spirit has led him to skydive, drive a NASCAR car at 155 MPH at the Kentucky Speedway, and cliff dive 35 feet into the Caribbean Sea at Rick’s Café in Jamaica.
He and his wife Penny have three rowdy boys, Luke, Jake and Tate, and one sweet little girl, Isla, the youngest of the four, and easily the biggest hellion of them all. In what little free time he has, Rocky can be found coaching for his kids’ baseball teams and enjoying lazy evenings grilling out on the back porch, black lab by his side, watching his little ones grow up way too quickly.
CASES THAT MADE THE NEWS
Rocky has been involved in many historic cases that have shaken up the legal world and redefined civil justice in Tennessee, including:
Cook v. GM
His representation of Timothy Cook v. General Motors in 2010 resulted in a landmark verdict which set precedent in Tennessee, allowing hundreds of injured workers to re-open closed cases to receive greater settlements.
Helen Bailey v. Chase
In 2011, Helen Bailey, a 78-year old widow and civil rights activist, was facing an unfair foreclosure of her home by Chase Bank. Rocky and Ms. Bailey met by chance when they happened to be in the same courtroom on the same day. Helen was there to set her case for trial and her lawyer had withdrawn. Rocky couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He stood up and said, “Your Honor, I’ll take that case!” full-knowing the bumpy road that lied ahead. He and the firm’s litigators worked tirelessly to fight one of the biggest banks in the world - while simultaneously creating a firestorm of national attention surrounding the paramount case. Fearing an even larger PR nightmare, Chase conceded and allowed Ms. Bailey to stay in her home for the rest of her life.
Rocky v. The Big Machine
In 2013, Rocky spearheaded a fight all the way to Capitol Hill to stop an infamous and dreadful workers’ compensation reform Bill from being written to law. The Bill drastically cut life-saving compensation for severely injured workers, made them easier to fire, and cut off their access to the courts and a fair trial. Rocky stood should-to-shoulder with clients and injury victims across Tennessee, crusading for the introduction of a more even-handed Bill that wasn’t so tilted in the direction of big business and greedy insurance companies.
The Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ), now the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA), honored Rocky’s commitment and influence on Tennessee’s civil justice system with the organization’s Paladin Award. Rocky was presented with the AFL-CIO’s Presidential Award for his dedication and hard work for working families in Tennessee.
Nursing home abuse
Nashville School of Law, J.D., 1999
University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., 1995
Tennessee state courts, 1999
United States District Court, Middle District, Tennessee 1999
United States Appeals Court, Sixth Circuit, 2006
Professional Affiliates, Awards and Organizations
AV Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers
Best of the Bar , Nashville Business Journal
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Rocky is the founder and principal shareholder of the Nashville based Rocky Law Firm where he focuses his practice on significant cases involving catastrophic auto, truck and motorcycle accidents, brain and spinal cord injury, wrongful death, workers’ compensation, and social security disability. With multiple mid-state offices for the convenience of clients, Rocky and his talented team represent injury victims across Tennessee and throughout the Southeast.
Rocky and the firm have received a steady stream of recognition for their successful and dependable track record, admirable trial experience, and their strong focus on obtaining the best possible results for each and every client. These awards include being named:
Best Attorney in Nashville, Nashville Scene Magazine Annual Readers’ Poll 7 years running
Best Lawyer/Best Law Firm, Hendersonville Readers’ Choice (2018)
Seal of Experience, Trial Masters
Multi-Million Dollar Advocate, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Top 50 in Tennessee, Super Lawyers
Top 10 in Tennessee, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys
Top 100 Lawyers, National Trial Lawyers Association
AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell
InCharge Leader Inductee, Nashville Post (2017-2019)
Rocky is also a 4-time winner of the Nashville Business Journal’s Best Place to Work award for his commitment to providing his employees with above-the-bar benefits, modern accommodating work spaces, exceptional leadership, and high ethical standards.