Rocky McElhaney 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 as he dealt with the physical pain of his injury compounded by financial worry as bills piled up. The family got evicted and had to move. For over three years, Larry dealt with the never-ending stall tactics and red tape of an insurance company that wrongfully refused to give him the benefits he had 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.
It was at that moment that Rocky decided to become an attorney – to fight for people the way that lawyer fought for his Dad and his family. 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 ourchildren - to immediately take responsibility when they cause damage to another and fully pay for the harms and losses.
After he earned his Bachelors or Arts in History from the University of Knoxville and went on to graduate with honors from Nashville School of Law in 1999, he began working as an attorney to feed his passion for pursuing civil justice for the seriously injured. Rocky decided early on that if he was going to reach and help as many folks as he could he was going to have to start a his own people-centered practice that specialized in workers’ compensation, personal injury, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, auto and tractor-trailer wrecks and offered individuals assistance with appealing denied social security disability benefits claims. As the principal and founding member of Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, he could begin building his dream, his way: taking aggressive steps to obtain the maximum compensation under the law for each and every client in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
Representing only the people, not the powerful, over the past 14 years, Rocky has built this law firm to fight for injured people. 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. Rocky builds friendships with his clients, not just professional relationships. For example, 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 his clients’ names and their stories; not just their case number and date of injury.
The firm’s commitment to identifying with their clients’ needs and to fighting for not just fair, but maximum compensation awards has helped his intimate, family-oriented practice develop a statewide presence.
Rocky was a professor of Legal Writing at Nashville School of Law from 2005- 2008. During 2006-2007 he served as President of the Nashville Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and through the present, he remains an active member of the Board of Directors. Rocky is a member of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association. He is also a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Rocky’s memberships also include the Nashville and Maury County Bar associations. In 2012, Rocky went on to be voted one of Tennessee’s Top Rated Lawyers by Legal Leaders. In 2013, he received Martindale Hubbell’s AV Preeminent Rating. This rating is granted to those lawyers with only the highest possible peer rating in both legal and ethical standards. For 6 years running Rocky has received the title of “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” from The National Trial Lawyers. Other notable achievements include being voted Nashville Business Journal’s “Best in Bar” from 2007-2010. His practice was selected again by NBJ as one of the “Best Places to Work” in 2013. Rocky attributes many of his personal and firm successes to him making client service his highest priority.
Rocky routinely lectures to other lawyers regarding workers' compensation and trial related issues. He has argued twice before the Tennessee Supreme Court, establishing ground-breaking legal rulings in workers' compensation. Again, Rocky demonstrated his degree of personal involvement and passion for protecting injured- workers when in 2013, he arduously campaigned against the passing of Governor Haslam’s workers’ compensation reform bill at the House and Senate. Because of the devastating effects that this particular bill would have on working class people who become injured, Rocky and his firm took a grassroots outreach approach to saturate local newspapers, television, and internet blogs trying to raise Tennessean awareness and opposition to the bill that would affect injured-workers so close to home.
In recognition of this work, in 2013 the Tennessee Association for Justice honored Rocky with a Paladin Award for demonstrating superior skills against seemingly insurmountable odds and for working tirelessly to combat the significant threats to the civil justice system.
Rocky works hard and plays harder. He and his wife Penny have three little boys. On evenings after work, he can be found pitching to his sons, chasing them down on their bikes and battery-powered 4-wheelers, or grilling in the back yard. He likes to SCUBA dive and snow ski. He enjoys Tennessee football games in autumn and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida in springtime. Rocky has an adventurous spirit which led him to jump out of an airplane to skydive, drive a NASCAR 155 MPH at Kentucky Speedway and cliff dive 35 feet into the Caribbean Sea at Rick’s Café in Jamaica.