Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Incalculator and coins negligence lawsuits, including those arising from car accidents, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. If the plaintiff is seeking to recover medical expenses as part of his or her damages, this burden usually requires expert medical testimony concerning the reasonableness and necessity of such expenses.

A recent appellate court case shows just how hard defendants – or, in reality, their insurance carriers – will fight against paying an injured party’s medical expenses in some cases.

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mapWhile some issues of law are controlled by the federal government, many are governed by the law of the individual states. For instance, tort litigation issues such as the statute of limitations, the proper parties to a lawsuit, and available damages are governed by state law.

When the law of two or more states could possibly apply to a legal dispute, the courts are called upon to make a “choice of law” decision as to which state’s law to apply. Situations exist in which a suit would not be viable in one state but would be of significant potential value in another.

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Day Care Showing Childrens Club And Kid's

Pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held vicariously liable for the torts of a servant under certain circumstances. Furthermore, an employer can be held directly liable for the negligence in some cases.

In the recent case of Jones v. Windham, the Tennessee Court of Appeals was called upon to determine whether a woman whose child was struck by a daycare’s van driver could maintain a direct negligence action against the driver’s employers in light of their admission of vicarious liability.

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file9291313200183 morguefile earl53Typically, governmental entities and their employees are immune from liability in Tennessee. Under the law, however, the employee of a governmental entity may be sued for operating a motor vehicle in a negligent manner while performing his or her job duties. In Jones v. Bradley County, a woman was apparently hurt when she collided with a County emergency vehicle that turned left in front of her against a red light in Cleveland, Tennessee. Following the accident, the woman filed a lawsuit against the County under § 29-20-202 of the Tennessee Code. In response to the lawsuit, the County filed a counterclaim against the injured woman alleging that she instead negligently caused the accident in which she sustained her personal injuries.

At trial, the emergency responder stated he activated the emergency lights and sirens on the truck he was driving prior to the traffic wreck. He also stated that he slowed the truck he was driving before entering the intersection where the crash occurred. It was undisputed that the roadways on which the motorists were travelling were both straight and the collision occurred on a clear day.

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5328739422_55bb4420b8_b MSVG Foter.com CC BYIn Naraghian v. Wilson, a woman was apparently injured in a Shelby County, Tennessee rear-end motor vehicle collision. About one year after the crash, the woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the purportedly at-fault driver in the Circuit Court of Shelby County. In her complaint, the hurt woman sought damages from the motorist for her injuries and property damage. In response, the other driver claimed he was not liable for the woman’s harm because she caused the traffic wreck. According to the motorist, he struck the woman from behind after she stopped for no reason at a green light.

During a jury trial, the woman testified that her automobile was hit when she came to a complete stop at a red light. Although she did not seek medical treatment immediately, the woman stated she began suffering from increasing pain in her neck, shoulders, and head. A few days after the crash, the injured woman sought treatment at a local hospital. The hospital apparently performed x-rays, provided the woman with prescription pain medication, and advised her to seek additional medical treatment if her pain continued. The woman eventually sought treatment for her injuries with a chiropractor.

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file4221342917144 morguefile ariadnerbIn Berry v. City of Memphis, a Shelby County driver was apparently hurt when her automobile was struck in an intersection by a Memphis police cruiser in 2003.  The motorist reportedly lost consciousness and had to be extricated from her vehicle using the Jaws of Life as a result of the collision.  The driver was then treated for a head contusion and musculo-skeletal harm to her head, back, neck, and chest. Despite this, x-rays taken following the crash did not indicate that the woman suffered any broken bones or other abnormalities.  The hospital discharged the woman on the day of the accident.

About two days later, the woman sought medical treatment for pain in her head, neck, back, and leg.  Her doctor apparently referred the driver to physical therapy.  Several years later, the woman filed a negligence lawsuit in Shelby County against the police officer who struck her and the city that employed him at the time.

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car-accidents-by-vward-5-145316-m freeimages victorwardIn Powell v. Clark, a passenger was hurt in a Tennessee motor vehicle collision that was caused by another motorist. Unfortunately, the at-fault driver did not carry liability insurance when the traffic wreck occurred. Following the accident, the injured passenger sought to recover uninsured motorist (“UIM”) accident benefits. At the time of the crash, her insurance policy included UIM and medical payments coverage of up to $100,000.  In addition, the driver of the vehicle the injured woman was riding in also carried $100,000 in UIM benefits, but only up to $2,000 in medical payments. Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-7-1201(b)(3), the driver’s insurer was the primary carrier for purposes of UIM coverage.

After the driver’s insurer paid the injured passenger the full medical payments policy limits of $2,000, the passenger’s insurance company paid her more than $70,000 in medical payments. Next, the injured passenger filed a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in a Tennessee court. Both insurers were issued a summons and filed an answer in the case. About one month after the injured passenger’s insurer filed its answer, the company was dismissed from the lawsuit.  Additionally, the at-fault driver failed to appear.

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file000555106735 morguefile username polaskiglassIn Bonner v. Deyo, a woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against a driver who rear-ended her vehicle at a stop-light and the owner of the allegedly at-fault automobile. In her complaint, the woman sought damages for head, neck, and other injuries she claimed to have suffered in the collision as well as reimbursement for her medical costs. Her husband also asked the court to award him financial compensation for his loss of consortium. Prior to trial, the parties agreed that the injured woman’s medical and vehicle repair bills were both authentic and admissible. Despite this, the defendants denied a number of material allegations included in the hurt woman’s complaint.

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stuck_in_traffic morguefile mr_write.jpgIn Hudson v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., a woman was rear-ended by an unidentified driver in October 2010. Following the car accident, the woman reported the collision to her automobile insurance company. She also made arrangements to have her vehicle inspected for damage. About seven months later, the woman sought payment for medical expenses that were apparently related to the car wreck as part of her uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

About three months later, the insurer sent the woman a letter stating the statute of limitations would expire on the one-year anniversary of her traffic accident if she failed to settle her claim or file a lawsuit against the company prior to that date. A statute of limitations is a maximum time limit during which a lawsuit may be filed. If a plaintiff does not file his or her case before the prescribed statute of limitations expires, the plaintiff is normally permanently barred from recovering any damages, regardless of his or her harm. Soon after receiving the letter, the woman finally sought medical treatment for the injuries she allegedly sustained in the rear-end automobile crash. After an initial consultation, the woman’s doctor diagnosed her with a “lumbar torsion” that may have been caused by the motor vehicle collision, and she began receiving physical therapy. Her auto insurer then denied the woman’s personal injury claim because it determined that her physical harm was not related to the traffic crash.

A few days before the statute of limitations expired, the injured woman filed a case against her insurer in Blount County, Tennessee. Several months later, she filed a second case, adding her husband as a loss of consortium plaintiff and the unknown driver as a defendant. She later amended her lawsuit to include a claim for negligence against the unknown motorist who struck her vehicle as well as Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), bad faith, and breach of contract claims against her car insurance company. The insurer then successfully removed the lawsuit from state court to the Eastern District of Tennessee, Knoxville Division.
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file5031340422169 kellyp42.jpgIn Pyle v. Mullins, a landscaper filed a personal injury lawsuit against a woman following a three-vehicle traffic wreck in Farragut. Although the woman admitted to liability for the crash, a jury trial was held on the issue of damages. Following trial, the jury awarded the landscaper $15,000 in damages for the injuries he sustained in the collision. After the trial court affirmed the jury’s award, the man filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville.

On appeal, the man alleged that the jury’s verdict should be set aside because it was based on erroneous evidentiary rulings and instructions. The landscaper also claimed the award was inadequate based on the evidence. After examining the testimony and other evidence offered at trial, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was sufficient material evidence to support the jury’s damages award. Because of this, the court refused to disturb the jurors’ award based on the material evidence.

Next, the appellate court addressed the landscaper’s claim that the trial court committed error when it refused to instruct the jury regarding the woman’s liability for any alleged aggravation of the man’s purported pre-existing injuries. The court stated a trial judge should only provide a requested jury instruction where it is supported by the evidence, is part of a party to a lawsuit’s theory of liability, and correctly states the law. According to the appeals court, the lower court did not commit error when it refused to issue the requested instruction to the jury because there was no evidence offered regarding the issue of the man’s pre-existing injuries.
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