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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Tennessee has a short statute of limitations compared to many states. Thus, it is not unusual for a person injured in a Knoxville car accident to have his or her case dismissed because it was not filed within the applicable limitations period. This much is to be expected.

What may come as more of a surprise, however, is a situation in which the party moving for the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case is his or her own insurance company. This very thing happened in a recent case in which the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist insurance company filed a motion to dismiss his suit as untimely because of an alleged defect in the complaint – even though the complaint itself was timely-filed.

Facts of the Case

In a car accident case that recently made its way to the intermediate court of appeals, the plaintiff was a man who was involved in an automobile accident on December 2, 2017. He filed suit on November 30, 2018, seeking to recover monetary compensation for certain personal injuries that he suffered as a result of the wreck. The plaintiff served a copy of the complaint against his own uninsured motorist insurance carrier, who was an “unnamed defendant” to the suit.

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An east Tennessee product liability case may involve multiple defendants and various theories of liability. In many cases, both the manufacturer and the seller of the product are named as defendants, and sometimes there are other potentially liable parties as well. Legal theories may include a design flaw that affected a great many products, or there may be an allegation that a manufacturing defect affected only a few products. Failure to warn may also be asserted.

As the case develops toward trial, it is possible that some defendants and/or legal theories may be eliminated through a process known as “summary judgment.” When a court grants summary judgment, it is essentially saying that a particular defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on one or more of the claims asserted by the plaintiff. Summary judgment does not necessarily end the plaintiff’s case, however, as there may still be viable legal theories remaining against a defendant (or multiple defendants) that have not been dismissed from the case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal district court case, the plaintiffs sought to assert a product liability action against the defendants, whom they alleged negligently designed and/or manufactured a heated throw blanket that allegedly caused a fire in the plaintiffs’ home in 2018, resulting in both personal injuries and property damage. As evidence of their claim, the plaintiffs submitted video surveillance footage showing, first, a bright flash from an area around the blanket’s control, and, over five hours later, additional flashes, smoke, and, eventually, a fire.
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In a Knoxville premises liability lawsuit, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff. Accordingly, he or she must have credible evidence proving that the defendant breached the duty of care that was owed to him or her under the circumstances.

Unfortunately, evidence of the proper owner’s negligence can disappear quickly. The accident scene may change when an employee cleans up the spill in which the customer slipped and fell. Video surveillance may be “recorded over” if not preserved. Even information about eyewitnesses may be lost over time.

Because of the compelling need to avoid spoliation of the evidence in a slip and fall case, it is important that the plaintiff seek legal counsel in a timely fashion. This can also help avoid the running of the statute of limitations, which is quite short for such matters in Tennessee.

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All personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations. The limitations period for filing an action is established by statute and can vary from state to state.

Tennessee has some of the shortest statutes of limitations in the country when it comes to lawsuits for, for instance, automobile accidents caused by negligence. Generally speaking, a person hurt by another’s negligence in a Knoxville car accident has just one short year to file a claim, or else his or her right to seek compensation is forfeited.

Of course, the one-year filing period is only a guideline. As the case discussed below indicates, there may occasionally be exceptions to the general rule, as circumstances can occasionally extend (or, sometimes, reduce) the limitations period, so it is very important to talk to a lawyer if you or someone in your family has been involved in a motor vehicle collision.

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Lawsuits against governmental entities for the allegedly negligent acts of their employees can be difficult. As with other defendants accused of negligence, the government resists being held accountable in many East Tennessee personal injury cases.

Generally, the argument is that the employee in question acted reasonably under the circumstances presented and that the plaintiff was the one at fault. However, this is not always the government’s strategy.

A recent case against a large county school system was the “exception that proves the rule,” so to speak. In this case, the governmental entity insisted that its employee’s conduct was so egregious as to not be considered negligence, thus removing the case from the statute under which the injured party pursued compensation.

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In a Knoxville product liability lawsuit, one of the first considerations is whether the plaintiff has “standing” to sue. Standing is a legal concept that simply means a litigant must have a sufficient enough connection to the action at issue to support that party’s participation in the case.

If a party lacks standing, there is no reason for the case to move forward. The courts are busy enough without entertaining cases that would clearly be a waste of judicial economy.

Of course, opinions can vary on the issue of standing, just as they can on many other issues that arise during the litigation process. Like other decisions involving whether a case should move forward, there is the possibility of an appeal if one party is disgruntled with the trial court’s ruling on standing.

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One of the foremost considerations in a Knoxville personal injury lawsuit is whether the would-be plaintiff has standing to file suit. “Standing,” in the legal sense, means that the person who is seeking redress has a right to relief under the law.

This may seem like a straightforward question, but it can be a more complex issue than one might imagine. This is especially true in cases involving persons who have passed away.

Determining who has standing to sue on behalf of a person who, had he or she lived, had the right to bring a lawsuit against an allegedly negligent individual can be a matter of statutory law in some cases. It may also be resolved based on prior case law in some situations.

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If you have never been involved in a lawsuit involving uninsured motorist insurance coverage, you might be surprised to find that the insured individual and their insurance company are in an adversarial relationship in such proceedings. In other words, in an east Tennessee car accident case, to determine the amount due an insured person who has been hurt by the negligence of an uninsured motorist, the injured person is on the opposite side of the lawsuit as his or her insurance company.

Although the case may not be styled in the case of “insured versus insurer,” the reality is that the insurance company is the real defendant in the case because it is the party who will be paying out any monies awarded to the plaintiff. It is possible that the insurance company may eventually recoup some of these funds from the party that caused the crash, but a full recovery is unlikely.

Therefore, the insurance company effectively stands in the shoes of the at-fault, uninsured motorist during the litigation of the case and may assert the same types of defenses that the motorist could have asserted had he or she been present at trial. Of course, the insurance company may have a few defenses of its own, in addition.

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Timeliness is critically important in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. There are deadlines for filing a claim, deadlines for effectuating service of process, and so on.

Failure to file the appropriate paperwork in a timely fashion can mean the end of the plaintiff’s case – and his or her chance of receiving fair compensation for a serious injury. Thus, it is very important that the injured person consult an east Tennessee personal injury attorney who can help him or her comply with all of the procedural requirements of the case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were a married couple who sought to recover monetary compensation for the alleged negligence of the defendants, an advanced practice nurse and a medical clinic. The plaintiffs began their case by filing a complaint in the Circuit Court of Shelby County on February 24, 2017. Summons were issued to the defendants at the time of the filing of the plaintiff’s suit, but they were returned without having been served. On September 5, 2017, alias summons were issued. These were served on the defendants on December 6, 2017, which was some 92 days after the complaint had been filed.

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There are many steps involved in the litigation of a Knoxville truck accident case. While the need for an initial investigation (such as the interviewing of witnesses, the gathering of records, and the like) and the filing of a formal complaint in the appropriate court are essential, these steps represent only the beginning of what can be a very lengthy process.

Securing service of process and answering discovery requests is also required, and many cases require the plaintiff to respond to various motions, including summary judgment motions seeking dismissal of the case. Of course, each case is unique and must be addressed on its own merits.

In some cases, a plaintiff may even have to go through the appellate process before having an opportunity to have his or her day in court. In a recent case, the plaintiff actually had his case go up on appeal twice during the pre-trial phase of the litigation.

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