Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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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Generally speaking, the defendant in a Tennessee car accident case “takes the plaintiff as he finds her.” In other words, if the plaintiff had medical issues at the time of the accident, any exacerbation of these conditions is taken into consideration in determining the money damages to which the plaintiff (assuming that the defendant is held liable for causing the accident).

This is not to say that the defendant is held liable for the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition itself, only that the defendant cannot argue that another individual who did not suffer from the plaintiff’s physical limitations would not have been harmed in the accident or would have received less severe injuries.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate case, the plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court for Davidson County seeking monetary compensation for injuries she suffered in a motor vehicle accident that she alleged was caused by the defendant’s negligence. The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict of $70,000 in the plaintiff’s favor. The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiff for a slightly smaller amount, after reducing the jury’s award because the amount they awarded for medical expenses exceed that which was entered into evidence at trial. The defendant appealed. Continue reading

In an east Tennessee car accident in which someone is seriously hurt, the proper party to bring the action is usually obvious:  the accident victim himself (or herself). When someone is killed in an auto accident, however, there can sometimes be a dispute about who should be allowed to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. The resolution of this issue can hinge on several factors, including the relationship between the deceased and those who seek to file suit. In some situations, other case-specific factors may also need to be considered.

Facts of the Case

In a recent consolidated action, one of the would-be plaintiffs was the surviving spouse of a woman who died in a car accident. As the husband of the deceased, this plaintiff insisted that he was the appropriate individual to assert a cause of action for the wrongful death of his late wife. The accident victim’s daughter also filed a wrongful death action, and the cases were consolidated. The Circuit Court of Sumner County held that the husband was the proper plaintiff and dismissed the daughter’s case. The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the daughter was the rightful plaintiff because there were allegations that the husband was at least partially to blame for the “road rage” incident that caused the wreck. After the daughter’s claim was reinstated by the appellate court, the husband appealed the case further to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

People 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

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

When 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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In 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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While 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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