Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

In a typical Knoxville wrongful death case, a family is seeking compensation for the loss of a loved one whom they believe died as the result of the negligence of an individual, corporation, or governmental entity. Damages may include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost earning capacity of the decedent, and related losses. Under Tennessee law, a family may also seek compensation for the loss of a nonhuman family member, i.e., a pet (or a farm animal), in some situations. However, the amount of monetary damages available in such a case are typically very limited unless the animal itself was very valuable.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a recent case were the owners of a 10-year-old cat who allegedly died due to the negligence of the defendant veterinarians, who placed a feeding tube into the animal’s trachea rather than her esophagus, thus sending food into her lungs (instead of into her stomach, where it was supposed to go) and causing her to aspirate. The plaintiffs asserted a wrongful death action against the defendants, seeking compensation for their loss.

When a loved one’s death was caused by negligence – or even reckless or intentional conduct – by another, the family should consult with a Tennessee wrongful death lawyer to discuss the possibility of filing suit against the responsible party.

While a lawsuit cannot bring back the loved one, the monetary damages available through a wrongful death claim can help ease the financial burden caused by the loved one’s death, as well as send a powerful message to others who might be tempted to engage in such dangerous and potentially deadly conduct in the future.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was the mother of a woman who died on a camping trip. The mother filed suit against the defendants, “friends “of the decedent who participated in the camping trip, in the Circuit Court for DeKalb County, alleging that the defendants  had caused the decedent’s death through negligence, recklessness, and/or intentional conduct. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendants had conspired to cover up the truth about how the decedent had passed away. The plaintiff sought compensation for the decedent’s wrongful death, as well as for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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In a Knoxville motorcycle accident case, the defendant is typically a motorist whose negligence allegedly caused a collision that led to the cyclist being injured or killed. However, other individuals or businesses can also be named as parties in some motorcycle crash cases.

As in other types of negligence lawsuits, the plaintiff has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant breached a legal duty that was owed to him or her and that this breach of duty was the proximate cause of damages complained of by the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a motorcyclist who was killed when his motorcycle collided with a sport utility vehicle in 2016. At the time of the crash, the SUV driver was turning left into a truck stop. The plaintiff filed suit against the driver of the SUV and the owners of the truck stop, seeking to recover damages for her husband’s wrongful death. According to the plaintiff, the truck stop owners were negligent in failing to place a visible sign directing the plaintiff to the proper entrance for passenger vehicles (the SUV driver was turning into an entrance intended for semi-trailer trucks, not passenger vehicles; the plaintiff averred that the truck entrance had a much more limited view of oncoming traffic).

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The right to a fair trial is one of the most important components of the American judiciary system. This is true regardless of whether one is the plaintiff or the defendant or whether the case is criminal or civil.

If a litigant believes that some impropriety has taken place that could prejudice his or her at trial later on, he or she may file a motion to recuse the trial court judge, as happened in a recent Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit. Of course, such a motion is not automatically granted, as the moving party must have valid reasons for the request.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case filed in the Circuit Court for Davidson County, the plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who allegedly died as a result of an act of medical negligence committed by the defendant health care provider. The plaintiff filed suit, both individually and as surviving spouse, seeking monetary compensation for the decedent’s death. The defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment, which the trial court judge indicated that he was going to deny on the basis that there were disputes over material facts. The judge’s law clerk allegedly stopped the plaintiff’s counsel in the hallway after the hearing and asked him to submit an order denying the defendant’s motion. Continue reading

Many Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuits involve tragic situations, but those involving young children and babies injured at birth can be some of the most heartbreaking. Doctors and their insurance companies are often quick to deny liability and shift blame for what happened.

Cases against doctors and medical providers can be very challenging, so it is important to consult with an experienced medical negligence attorney if your find yourself (or a close family member) the victim of a medical error.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in Hamilton County, Tennessee, the plaintiffs were the parents of a minor child who suffered permanent injuries during his birth. These injuries left the child with only partial use of one of his arms, as well as other complications. The parents filed suit against the health services provider for whom the delivering obstetrician was employed, alleging that the doctor had been negligent during the delivery. Their allegations also included an accusation that the doctor used a vacuum extractor without first obtaining the plaintiffs’ informed consent. Continue reading

Like other personal injury and wrongful death cases, a Knoxville medical malpractice lawsuit usually sounds in negligence. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove four things:  that the defendant owed a certain duty of care, that the duty was breached, that the plaintiff was harmed, and that there was a causal link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s damages.

Failing to prove any one of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence will result in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Facts of the Case

Filing an east Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuit is a complicated and demanding process. Not only is the plaintiff required to file a formal complaint (as is required in every personal injury and wrongful death case), but there are other requirements, as well.

Whether or not a plaintiff has performed all of the procedural requirements to proceed with a medical negligence case is often a subject of disagreement. When this happens, the trial court judge must decide whether there has been compliance with the applicable rules. A party displeased with the trial court’s ruling has the option of seeking an appellate court’s review. This is a very important issue because failure to comply with the applicable procedural rules can mean dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a case recently considered by the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville were the parents, surviving minor children, and estate of a woman who died after being found unresponsive in her room at the defendant hospital. The hospital specialized in in-patient psychiatric care, including detoxification from alcohol and controlled substances and suicidal ideation. The plaintiffs filed their first complaint against the hospital and others in October 2014, but voluntarily dismissed it in January 2015. Continue reading

There’s an expression to the effect that sometimes one can “win the battle, but lose the war.” This can happen in the legal field, including in an east Tennessee medical malpractice case. A recent appellate case from Coffee County is illustrative. A widow won her medical malpractice case against a negligent hospital in the trial court, but the appellate court found an error in an additur to the verdict by the trial court judge.

The war continues, with the next step being a retrial, during which both parties will be allowed to present their respective evidence to a different pool of jurors.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was the widow of a man who passed away in 2012 while a patient at a hospital owned by the defendant. The man was admitted to the hospital for treatment of kidney stones. By the next morning, his life was in peril; he was not breathing and had to be resuscitated. Unfortunately, the man suffered a brain injury during this time and died a few days later after life support was removed. The widow filed suit in the Circuit Court of Coffee County, alleging that the defendant was vicariously liable for the hospital staff’s negligence and seeking to recover damages for her husband’s injuries and wrongful death. Included in the plaintiff’s complaint were allegations that the defendant failed to establish appropriate procedures for the management of a patient-controlled analgesia pain pump (PCA pump) and failed to educate its employees on the potential effect of opioid therapy on sedation and respiratory depression.

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In an east Tennessee car accident in which someone is seriously hurt, the proper party to bring the action is usually obvious:  the accident victim himself (or herself). When someone is killed in an auto accident, however, there can sometimes be a dispute about who should be allowed to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. The resolution of this issue can hinge on several factors, including the relationship between the deceased and those who seek to file suit. In some situations, other case-specific factors may also need to be considered.

Facts of the Case

In a recent consolidated action, one of the would-be plaintiffs was the surviving spouse of a woman who died in a car accident. As the husband of the deceased, this plaintiff insisted that he was the appropriate individual to assert a cause of action for the wrongful death of his late wife. The accident victim’s daughter also filed a wrongful death action, and the cases were consolidated. The Circuit Court of Sumner County held that the husband was the proper plaintiff and dismissed the daughter’s case. The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the daughter was the rightful plaintiff because there were allegations that the husband was at least partially to blame for the “road rage” incident that caused the wreck. After the daughter’s claim was reinstated by the appellate court, the husband appealed the case further to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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

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