Articles Posted in Car Accidents

doctor's coatPeople who have been injured in a Knoxville car accident caused by the negligence or reckless conduct of another person, business, or governmental entity may be able to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and compensation for pain and suffering. However, calculating the exact amount to which the injured person (or a deceased person’s family) is entitled is a complex endeavor.

A recent case highlights one of the issues that frequently arises in such cases:  how are the reasonable and necessary medical expenses suffered by an injured person to be determined?

Facts of the Case

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If you or a loved one has been hurt in a Knoxville car accident, three of the most important words to you right now should be “statute of limitations.” Failing to file your claim by this important deadline can seriously jeopardize your chances of recovering fair compensation.

For this reason, it is critically important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after an accident so that he or she can be investigating the case and preparing the necessary paperwork so that untimeliness will not be an issue in your case. It is important to note that Tennessee has a very short statute of limitations for personal injury claims – just one year. The deadline can slip past very quickly, especially in a serious accident in which the plaintiff’s physical recovery is ongoing or in a wrongful death case in which a family is grieving the loss of a loved one.

Facts of the Case

car accidentWhen someone perishes in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, the victim’s family may be able to seek compensation for their loved one’s wrongful death in a court of law. Exactly who is entitled to bring the lawsuit is largely a matter of state law, but unique situations can occur that take a particular case outside the normal statutory scheme.

A Tennessee appellate court was recently asked to determine the appropriate family member to bring a wrongful death case in a situation in which the person who normally would have had statutory priority was, himself, a possible defendant in the case.

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When a case goes to trial, it is up to the trial court judge to determine the specific evidence that may be introduced by the parties and considered by the jury in deciding the issues.

When one of the parties is aggrieved by an evidentiary ruling at trial, that party may opt to appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court for review.

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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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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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