Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Most workers in Tennessee are covered by workers’ compensation laws. However, some are not. For example, some public employees are not entitled to benefits under the same system that a fast food restaurant employee or factory worker would be covered.

In such cases, the employee (or, in a fatal illness or accident case, the worker’s family) may be entitled to some alternative type of benefits following an accident or sickness caused by the worker’s conditions of employment, but such a suit may be pursued more in the nature of a Tennessee personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit than a “regular” worker’s compensation case. Some governmental entities’ work injury coverage is administered through a third-party administrator who makes the initial decision in the case. This may be reviewed by an administrative law judge, a chancellor or circuit court judge, and, eventually, the appellate court.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was the widow of a city fireman who passed away in 2015. At the time of his death, the decedent had worked for the city’s fire department for some 20 years. His pre-hire physical examine revealed no signs of hypertension or other heart disease. After having completed a 24-hour workday that required him to manage calls on five separate calls, the decedent passed away within 12 hours of leaving his post. The widow sought on-the-job-injury benefits for the fireman’s death. The defendant’s third-party administrator denied the widow’s claim on the basis that no autopsy had been performed on the decedent as was required under the city’s on-the-job injury policy.

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We’re all busy these days. It isn’t surprising that many drivers attempt to “multi-task” by making phone calls or texting while driving. However, any time that a driver focuses his or her attention on something other than the road, he or she increases the chances of being in a Tennessee car accident.

Statistically speaking, about three people lose their lives in car crashes in Tennessee each day. Far too many of these accidents are caused by distracted driving, including cell phone and smart phone usage. The problem isn’t just in Tennessee, of course. Nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 3000 lives are lost annually in the United States because of distracted driving.

Distracted Driving is Extremely Dangerous

A driver can be distracted by many different things – carrying on a heated conversation with a passenger, eating or drinking, and applying cosmetics or engaging in other grooming (such as shaving) are all considered to be forms of distracted driving. However, the usage of electronic devices – especially smart phones, but also navigation systems, radios, and the like – is especially problematic.

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Under Tennessee medical malpractice law, an individual who seeks to recover fair compensation (including acts of negligence resulting in a loved one’s alleged wrongful death) must provide pre-suit notice to those against whom the lawsuit will eventually be filed.

Generally speaking, failure to provide this notice can result in dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit based on failure to comply with the state’s health care liability statute. However, there are exceptions to this general rule, as the appellate court held in a recent case.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was the husband of a woman who died in April 2016, following an emergency craniotomy that was performed due to stroke-like symptoms the woman suffered shortly after being released from a hospital where she had sought medical treatment for an apparent aneurysm.  The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant medical providers in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County, alleging that the defendants had failed to adequately and timely treat the decedent, thereby causing her various personal injuries and, ultimately, her death. Pursuant to the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121, the plaintiff attempted to provide pre-suit notice of his intent to bring a health care liability action against each defendant named in his complaint and filed his complaint within the 12o-day extension of the statute of limitations provided by the statute.

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The so-called “Opioid Epidemic” is big news these days, as more and more claims are being filed against the makers of pharmaceutical products like hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, OxyContin, Roxicodone, and Opana by both individuals and government officials.

Here in Tennessee, several attorneys general have sought to assert claims against those who make these and other opioid drugs, but of course the manufacturers have done their best to resist these efforts if at all possible.

Earlier this month, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued a decision in one such matter, holding that a case previously dismissed by a state court judge could go forward against certain pharmaceutical companies under a state statute that provides a civil remedy against those who participate in the illegal drug trade. If you or a loved one is suffering from the use of such medications, a Tennessee personal injury attorney may be able to determine whether you have a claim.

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Generally speaking, a Tennessee personal injury lawsuit must be filed within the one-year statute of limitations for negligence cases if it is to survive a motion for summary judgment. This seems like a straight-forward rule, but this is not always so. For example, in some cases, exposure to a product may cause serious injury or even death, but these effects may take many years to manifest themselves.

Tennessee also has a statute of repose that places additional limitations on the plaintiff in a personal injury or wrongful death case, including one stemming from injuries caused by exposure to asbestos. In some situations, an injured person may have been exposed to multiple sources of asbestos over a multi-year period, creating further issues that must be hashed out during the litigation process.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who developed mesothelioma after working at a chemical plant in east Tennessee for approximately 20 years. He (along with his wife) filed multiple product liability claims against the defendants (an asbestos manufacturer and others), asserting claims for the defendants’ respective alleged involvement in the male plaintiff’s exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
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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

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