Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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A common issue that arises in east Tennessee personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits is that of comparative negligence. This is because, under Tennessee’s “modified comparative fault” law, a plaintiff who is 50% or more at fault in an accident cannot recover compensation from the alleged wrongdoer.

Tennessee’s rule is harsher than that of some sister states that, instead, follow the rule of “pure comparative fault,” in which the plaintiff recovers at least some compensation as long as he or she is not 100% at fault (although the amount received is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff).

Facts of the Case

jury box

If you have never actually seen a lawsuit being tried in court (or been called for jury duty), you may not be familiar with the jury selection process in an east Tennessee medical malpractice, wrongful death, or personal injury case.

Sometimes, potential jurors are excluded “for cause” – that is, because they know one of the parties or attorneys personally or because they do not believe that they will be able to be fair to both sides for some other reason. Each party is also afforded a certain number of “peremptory” challenges that may be used to exclude jurors without the need for a reason or explanation. The only limitation on peremptory challenges is that they may not be used to discriminate against a particular gender, race, or ethnicity.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a recent case heard by the Tennessee Court of Appeals were the parents of an infant who died during childbirth in 2009. The parents filed suit against the defendants (a hospital, a treating physician, and others) in the Circuit Court of Tipton County, asserting claims of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and vicarious liability for the death of their child.

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All personal injury and wrongful death cases have a filing deadline called the “statute of limitations.” Failing to file a claim within this time frame usually means that the plaintiff will be unable to pursue compensation, regardless of the merits of his or her case. Some types of cases, including Knoxville medical malpractice cases, may have additional requirements.

Under the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act, a person who seeks to pursue a legal action for medical negligence must also provide pre-suit notice to the defendant(s) who will be named in the lawsuit. Medical authorization forms are also to be sent to the defendants. Failing to comply with these requirements can result in the dismissal of an otherwise valid claim.

Facts of the Case

When someone passes away due to another party’s negligence, it may be possible for those left behind to file a Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit. However, not just anyone can file such a claim.

Only those allowed by the statutory scheme of the state in which the decedent was killed have the right to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Sometimes, disputes can arise as to who exactly is the proper person to bring the claim. It is up to the courts to ultimately make that decision.

Facts of the Case

jail cellWhen a governmental employee acts negligently – that is, when he or she breaches a duty of care owed to another person, and harm is caused to the victim as a proximate result – the governmental entity for which the employee worked can be held liable for the resulting injuries or wrongful death in many instances.

This can be true even when the direct harm to the victim is caused by someone other than the employee – such as when a mentally distraught individual who should have been more carefully monitored while in the custody of a government official takes his or her own life.

Facts of the Case

sleeping infant
Medical mistakes can cause injuries or death both to the old and to the young, but some of the most heartbreaking east Tennessee medical malpractice cases involve situations in which a doctor’s mistake causes a child to either die in utero or shortly after birth.

Obstetricians fight hard against a finding of liability in such cases, urging the jury to believe that they did everything they could under the circumstances. While this may be true in some situations, it is not always so. Ultimately, it is up to the jury to decide whether a mistake was made and, if so, the compensation to which a family is entitled as a result.

Facts of the Case

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An act of medical malpractice in Knoxville, Maryville, or another region of east Tennessee can cause devastating injuries and even a wrongful death. Unfortunately, Tennessee has one of the shortest statutes of limitations in the nation, giving grieving families just one year in which to assert a claim or else have their right to recover money damages barred by the statute of limitations.

While contacting a Tennessee wrongful death attorney may be a difficult and emotionally taxing step in recovering from the death of a family member, it is vitally important that this be done as soon as possible so that the attorney can have adequate time to investigate the matter, prepare the paperwork for the claim, and file the necessary documents before the statute of limitations runs.

Those who wait too long to hire an attorney may find themselves unable to find a qualified legal professional willing to put their name and reputation on the line when too little time is left to properly research a claim. This was exactly what happened to a widower who lost his wife to an alleged act of medical negligence. He had no choice but to file the claim pro se (although he was able to retain an attorney later). Unfortunately, the family spent the next 12 years arguing about whether this action complied with the statute of limitations.

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hospital bedSeptic shock is a very dangerous, potentially life-threatening medical condition that can occur when the body attempts to fight a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. Possible complications from septic shock include heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, liver failure, or respiratory failure.

Although septic shock can be fatal, a patient’s prognosis is better if the condition is promptly diagnosed and properly treated. Time is of the essence, and any delay can hurt a patient’s chances of recovery.

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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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mapWhile 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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