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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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In a Knoxville personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, several elements of damages are possible. Some of these are “economic damages,” such as medical costs and lost wages. Others are referred to as “non-economic damages.”

Non-economic damages include such things as compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of the ability to enjoy life, and loss of spousal consortium. Depending upon the law of the state in which the accident happened – and sometimes the particular claims upon which the plaintiff rests his or her case – there may be a maximum amount of damages available to the plaintiff, regardless of what his or her case would otherwise be worth.

When damages are capped in a case involving multiple defendants, disputes can arise regarding the amount that each defendant ultimately owes if the jury finds in the plaintiff’s favor. This can even be true in cases in which multiple defendants were sued but only a single defendant remained at the time of the trial.

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When most people think about a Knoxville “slip and fall” case involving a grocery store, the stereotypical image that comes to mind is probably that of shopper slipping on a banana peel and landing squarely on his or her backside, embarrassed but no worse for the wear. The idea is almost comical.

The reality of such accidents, however, is very different. A fall-down accident in a grocery store, restaurant, or other business can leave a shopper with serious injuries which may require extensive medical treatment.

When such an accident occurs as a result of the negligence of the business owner, the injured individual has a right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for his or her medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. It should be noted that the burden of proof in such a case rests on the plaintiff, who must be able to prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence.

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Pursuing a Knoxville personal injury case involves many steps. In addition to an investigation of the accident or other event giving rise to the potential litigation, certain paperwork must be filed with the court clerk in order to lodge the case with the appropriate trial court.

In most cases, this paperwork includes a summons and complaint, both of which must be filed with the clerk and served upon the defendant. In some kinds of cases, including those involving health care providers, there are other documents that may also need to be filed in order to perfect the filing of the complaint.

An attorney experienced in these types of cases can help a would-be plaintiff understand the filing requirements, assist him or her in preparation of the necessary documents, and represent the plaintiff’s interests during the litigation and trial of the matter. If an argument arises regarding whether all of the filing requirements have been met, the attorney can also prepare appellate briefs and argue the case in front of the appellate tribunal(s).

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When someone is harmed by the negligent actions (or the negligent failure to act) of a person acting within the course and scope of their employment, the law may impose “vicarious liability” against the employer. Typically, the employer’s liability insurance policy will cover such situations if a judgment is entered against the business or if the parties reach a settlement.

Often, however, the employer will attempt to get such claims dismissed prior to trial. One way to do this is to file what is known as a “motion for summary judgment.” In order to prevail on such a motion, the moving party must convince the court that he, she, or it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because there are no genuine issues of material fact that require the consideration of the jury at trial.

It is not unusual for a negligence case to be dismissed on summary judgment, but such an order is not necessarily the end of the case. The losing party can ask the appellate court to review the matter, and, if the appellate court reverses the trial court’s order, the case is remanded to the trial court and the case continues toward trial. If you or someone you love has been harmed by the negligent actions of others, it is in your best interest to consult with a Knoxville personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss damages you may be able to recover.

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