Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Uninsured motorist insurance coverage is very important because it can be the only protection available to a person who is involved in an east Tennessee car accident with an uninsured driver (similarly, underinsured motorist coverage protects against situations in which the at-fault driver has some, but not enough, liability insurance. In cases in which coverage is triggered due to a defendant’s lack of coverage (or lack of sufficient coverage, as the case may be), the insurance company essentially “stands in the shoes” of the negligent driver. This means that the insurance company can offer defenses to liability, just as the driver would do under the same circumstances. An insurance company is an insurance company, after all, and the fact that its insured is on the other side of the suit does not change the insurer’s desire to limit the payout on the claim.

This can be very upsetting to policyholders who have been loyal customers, always paying their premiums on time and being careful drivers. What can come as an even worse surprise, however, is a customer thinking that he or she has uninsured motorist insurance coverage in place and then finding out – after an accident caused by another motorist – that he or she does not have such coverage.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were a husband and wife who had previously lived in Georgia. When they lived in that state, they had $2,000,000 worth of excess uninsured motorist coverage, and their policy included a separate “line item premium” for the excess uninsured motorist coverage. After they moved to Tennessee in 2013, the plaintiff husband approached the defendant insurance broker and insurance agency about obtaining a personal umbrella insurance policy with the same coverage that the couple had in Georgia. According to the husband, he provided a copy of the Georgia policy so that the agent could help him obtain similar coverage in Tennessee.

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In an east Tennessee truck accident case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means that he or she must provide proof sufficient to convince the jury, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant’s failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner was the proximate cause of his or her injuries. In most cases, this evidence includes the testimony of one or more physicians who are qualified to explain to the jury the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s physical injuries, treatment, and limitations. If the defendant disagrees with the qualifications of the plaintiff’s proposed expert witness(es), a motion to exclude the testimony may be filed. The trial court will then rule upon the motion, and whichever party is aggrieved thereby may eventually seek the review of an appellate court regarding the decision.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal court case, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendants, seeking compensation for personal injuries he allegedly suffered in a rear-end collision involving his van and their tractor-trailer. The defendants filed a motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s treating physician and medical expert, arguing that the doctor did not state in his deposition that he was serving as an expert witness, the doctor did not examine any documents other than the plaintiff’s medical records and was not aware of any facts related to the accident, the doctor’s report lacked a method of reasoning as to his conclusion that the accident at issue caused the injuries complained of by the plaintiff, the doctor did not connect his experience to his conclusions, and/or the doctor did not take into account possible causes of the plaintiff’s injuries other than the accident.

The plaintiff responded that, even if the doctor’s report was “technically deficient,” it would not be appropriate for the court to exclude it because any alleged failure to disclose it was harmless in that it did not prejudice the defendants.

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When someone has automobile accident liability insurance and he or she is sued due to a Tennessee car accident, the insurance company has two responsibilities: to provide a defense for the insured and to indemnify him or her in the event of a judgment. The insured individual also has certain obligations, perhaps the most important of which is the duty to cooperate with the insurance company during the legal proceedings arising from the accident.

When the insured does not cooperate in the way that he or she should, the insurance company may not have a duty to defend or indemnify him or her. Unfortunately, innocent people – namely, those injured by the insured’s negligence – may be negatively affected in such a situation.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case that was heard by the state’s highest court, the plaintiff was an insurance company that filed a declaratory judgment action against the defendant insured, seeking a declaration that it did not have to provide a defense to the insured in a personal injury lawsuit that had been file against him pertaining to an automobile accident or to indemnify him for any damages ultimately awarded to the claimant in that lawsuit. The insured reportedly did not respond, and the trial court entered a default judgment for the insurance company, holding that it did not have a duty to defend or indemnify the insured under the circumstances.

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When someone is hurt in a Knoxville car accident, he or she is likely to have considerable medical costs. Getting those expenses paid can be an uphill battle, as can recouping lost wages or compensation for pain and suffering. In addition to a negligence lawsuit filed against the at-fault driver, the plaintiff may have other legal remedies available to him or her.

As the case set forth below explains, it is usually the plaintiff who decides where to file his or her lawsuit, if a choice of forum is a possibility (which it may or may not be, depending upon the circumstances), but there are sometimes exceptions to this general rule. As the court points out, there may also be an exception to the exception.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal appellate case, the original plaintiff was a woman who was reportedly hurt in a car accident. She sought medical treatment from the defendant healthcare provider, who later billed her some $8000 for her treatment. Three different insurance companies paid monies to the defendant towards the cost of the plaintiff’s care: her employer-sponsored medical plan, her husband’s medical plan, and her automobile insurance plan. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, which she filed in Tennessee state court, the defendant overcharged her for her care and commonly did the same to others. The plaintiff’s suit sought to assert the rights of a putative class of individuals who had been subjected to the defendant’s practices.
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In an east Tennessee automobile accident case, an injured party may receive compensation for his or her medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages caused by a negligent driver.

If the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault in the accident, his or her judgment for compensation will be reduced in proportion to his or her fault. For example, if the court finds that the plaintiff’s total damages are $100,000 but he or she was 10% at fault, the net judgment will be $90,000.

It is important to note that this rule only applies to cases in which the plaintiff is found to have been less than 50% at fault; if the plaintiff is 50% or more to blame for an accident, he or she will not recover any compensation.

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In a Knoxville personal injury lawsuit arising from a car accident or other vehicular collision, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant is legally liable for his or her medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages stemming from the accident.

In litigating his or her claim, the plaintiff will likely pursue the discovery of evidence from a variety of sources, including governmental entities. While the law of evidence provides a basic structure for the resolution of these issues, some matters must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

A recent, rather unusual case arising from an accident in military vehicle is illustrative.

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Many people labor under the mistaken impression that pursuing fair compensation is easier when the defendant in a car accident case is the victim’s own uninsured motorist insurance company. This is simply not true. As the case set forth below illustrates, an insurance company can likely align itself with the negligent motorist that caused the collision – not its own insured – and fight tooth and nail to pay out as little as possible on a claim, even when liability is clear.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was involved in an accident with the defendant driver in Shelby County, Tennessee, in January 2016. The man was joined in the suit by his wife as co-plaintiff. The plaintiff’s uninsured motorist carrier was served with a copy of the complaint pursuant to the Tennessee Uninsured Motorist Act. The defendants did not dispute that the driver was liable for the accident in question; rather, the primary issues before the court were the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and their impact on the plaintiff’s earning capacity.

The plaintiff in a Knoxville car accident case must comply with several important deadlines, if his or her lawsuit against a negligent defendant is to be successful. One of the most important of these deadlines is the statute of limitations – that is, the deadline for filing a claim in a court with appropriate jurisdiction.

However, merely filing a claim is not enough to keep the plaintiff’s case on track for a positive outcome. The plaintiff’s complaint must also be served on the defendant, so that he, she, or it has an opportunity to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent appellate court case was a woman whose car was allegedly struck by a vehicle owned by the defendant utility company. The accident happened on March 16, 2009, and the plaintiff’s suit was filed on March 12, 2010. Her suit was in the nature of a civil warrant filed in general sessions court by her then-attorney, who served the complaint on the defendant the next day via certified mail. According to the plaintiff’s then-attorney, he made a return-of-service to the clerk’s office after perfecting service on the defendant. The clerk, however, did not docket the case, and the defendant later claimed that the plaintiff’s then-attorney had failed to make the return-of-service as he alleged.

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Everyone wants to be paid for his or her work, including medical providers who provide treatment to those who have been injured in an east Tennessee automobile accident. However, there are limitations under the law with regard to what a creditor can and cannot do in his or her collection efforts.

A recent case explored how two Tennessee statutes – the Tennessee Healthcare Liability Act (THL) and Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – applied in a personal injury case in which a healthcare provider attempted to assert a lien.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the original plaintiff was a man who was allegedly injured in a car crash in Madison County, Tennessee, and treated for his injuries at a hospital in Dyer County (where the plaintiff resided). After a “professional account services” provider filed a notice of a hospital lien in his lawsuit against the allegedly negligent driver whose actions injured the plaintiff, the plaintiff amended his complaint to add a second plaintiff (who had been injured in an car accident in Obion County, treated at a hospital in Weakly County, and served with a hospital lien by the same account services provider as the original plaintiff) and to name the defendant account services provider as a party defendant.

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Most east Tennessee car accident lawsuits are filed in state court. There are several procedural and strategic reasons for this. However, when a federal question is involved in the case or when there is diversity of citizenship between the parties, the defendant(s) may remove the case to federal court.

“Making a federal case out of it” tends to result in more costly, complex, and time-consuming litigation, at least from the plaintiff’s point of view. Thus, if there is any possibility of having the case returned to state court after removal, the plaintiff may be wise to consider this option.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were a husband and wife who, along with their minor child, were allegedly injured in an accident in Chattanooga. They filed suit in state court against the driver whose negligence they alleged caused the crash. They also named the driver’s employer as a defendant in suit, asserting a claim for vicarious liability. The employer removed the state court action to federal court, invoking diversity jurisdiction (the plaintiffs were not from Tennessee).

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