Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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

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

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