Articles Posted in Tennessee Law

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freight train

Usually, an employee who is hurt on the job is limited to pursuing benefits available under Tennessee’s workers’ compensation laws. These benefits include temporary disability, permanent disability, and medical benefits, but no compensation is provided for the worker’s pain and suffering or other non-economic damages.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule, however, including third-party lawsuits in cases in which the negligence of someone other than the employer may have caused or contributed to the worker’s injuries or death. A “textbook example” of this occurs when a delivery driver is hurt in a car wreck in which another motorist is at fault.

Another situation in which an injured worker has options other than workers’ compensation is when that worker is employed in a particular type of work covered by other laws, such as in a railroad injury case.

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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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tractor trailer

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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Deal

If you have kids, you may have noticed a disturbing trend among businesses and organizations that cater to young people; birthday party venues, sports team organizers, and even some churches are requiring a signed release before a child is allowed to participate in recreational activities and other “kid-friendly” events.

The reason, of course, is to attempt to avoid liability in the event that a child is hurt (or, even worse, killed) due to the negligence of the entity asking for the release. The practice is so prevalent that one would be led to think that liability insurance has ceased to be available in this country.

The fact is that liability insurance is widely available and, in most cases, quite affordable. (It’s called “a cost of doing business.”) If no insurance company is willing to assume a particular risk, perhaps this is an indication that the activity in question is too dangerous for minor children anyway.

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recreational vehicle

Negligence lawsuits are comprised of four basic elements:  duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. Typically, the question of whether or not a duty existed in a particular case is a legal question that must be resolved by a judge, while the issue of whether that duty was, in fact, breached is a question for the trier of fact (the jury).

In a recent case, the plaintiff in a negligence action asserted that the defendant owed a duty to use due care in holding a ladder that the plaintiff was using, but the defendant denied that such a duty existed. (It should be noted that the parties to the litigation were a father and son, but, in reality, any judgment obtained by the son would likely be the responsibility of the father’s liability insurance company.)

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playgroundAlthough the purposes of a civil lawsuit and a criminal prosecution are quite different, the issues in related civil and criminal cases may be very similar. For instance, in a car accident case, a defendant may be criminally prosecuted for driving under the influence of alcohol and may also be sued civilly for negligently or recklessly causing a motor vehicle accident while intoxicated.

In the criminal case, the court may order the defendant to pay a fine, perform community service, or be incarcerated. In the civil case, the court may hold the defendant liable for damages resulting from the car accident and order the defendant (or, in actuality, their insurance company) to pay money to the plaintiff in compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with the accident.

Recently, the state supreme court clarified the issue of whether a judgment of conviction in a criminal case could be used as evidence by the plaintiff in a civil case.

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water meter

Governmental entities such as cities and utility companies enjoy governmental immunity against claims of liability pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-20-101 et seq. However, this immunity is not absolute.

For instance, there is no immunity for a governmental entity when a citizen is injured by a defective, unsafe, or dangerous condition of a street or walkway owned by the entity, if the injured person is able to show that the entity had either actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.

Constructive notice can be established by showing that the condition at issue had been in existence for a length of time sufficient for a property owner exercising due care to have become aware of it.

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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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Day Care Showing Childrens Club And Kid's

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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