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Articles Posted in Tennessee Law

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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Doctors and nurses spend many years learning the professions. This does not mean, however, that they never make mistakes. They do, much more often that the general public would like to believe.

When someone is hurt or passes away because of a healthcare practitioner’s mistake, the individual or the family of a deceased patient may be able to seek monetary compensation via an east Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuit. Time of the essence in a medical negligence case, as there are strict deadlines for filing a claim.

The first step in a malpractice case is usually to retain a qualified medical expert to examine the patient’s medical records. If that professional is of the opinion that the would-be defendant breached the applicable standard of care, the next step is filing suit in the appropriate court. Continue reading

For several years now, there has been a concerted effort to limit the legal rights of those who might seek to file a Knoxville nursing home abuse lawsuit. Typically, a representative of the nursing home begins this process by asking the patient or someone in his or her family to sign “routine paperwork” that includes an agreement to arbitrate, rather than litigate, any potential claims that may arise during the patient’s care.

The patient or family member often has no idea that, by signing these admission papers, he or she is giving up the right to have a future personal injury or wrongful death case decided by a judge or jury. Instead, if a claim arises, the case will proceed in front of an arbitrator.

Arbitrators tend to be much more conservative in their awards – if they even agree that there was negligent or wrongful conduct on behalf of the nursing home or its employees – thus potentially saving the potential defendant and its insurance company a considerable amount of money in some cases. Fortunately, not every such “agreement” to arbitration is upheld in court.

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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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Most everyone has heard the term “file a lawsuit,” but those outside the legal profession may not fully understand what that process entails. For starters, the plaintiff must prepare a formal, written complaint setting forth the basic factual allegations, legal claims, and relief sought.

In addition to the filing of the complaint with the clerk of the court in the county in which jurisdiction is pled, the plaintiff must also file serve a copy of the complaint on the defendant(s) in the case. Generally speaking, this can be done one of two ways: by local sheriff deputies or by a private process server.

There are procedural rules, applicable in East Tennessee personal injury and other civil cases, including time limitations on both the filing of the complaint and the perfecting of service of process, that must be followed. Failure to follow these rules or meet these deadlines can be very detrimental to the plaintiff’s legal rights.

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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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In cases in which a negligent driver was acting in the course and scope of his or her employment at the time of a serious East Tennessee car accident or fatal crash, the driver’s employer can be held vicariously liable for the harm that befell the accident victim. This is important because the employer is likely to have more financial resources (including a car accident liability insurance policy with considerably higher limits) than the at-fault motorist.

Obviously, the employer has an incentive to deny that the worker was “on the clock,” so to speak. However, simply denying the obvious will not go very far in avoiding a finding of liability for the employer.

In a recent case, both the employer and the employee (a father and son) denied that the employee was still acting on behalf of the employer when he crashed the employer’s car and killed a woman. Instead, they argued that the employee had planned to stop off and pick up a pizza, thereby deviating from his task and interrupting the chain of events that would have resulted in a finding of vicarious liability. Fortunately for the woman’ surviving spouse, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s summary judgment order and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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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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