Generally speaking, the defendant in a Tennessee car accident case “takes the plaintiff as he finds her.” In other words, if the plaintiff had medical issues at the time of the accident, any exacerbation of these conditions is taken into consideration in determining the money damages to which the plaintiff (assuming that the defendant is held liable for causing the accident).
This is not to say that the defendant is held liable for the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition itself, only that the defendant cannot argue that another individual who did not suffer from the plaintiff’s physical limitations would not have been harmed in the accident or would have received less severe injuries.
Facts of the Case
In a recently decided appellate case, the plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court for Davidson County seeking monetary compensation for injuries she suffered in a motor vehicle accident that she alleged was caused by the defendant’s negligence. The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict of $70,000 in the plaintiff’s favor. The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiff for a slightly smaller amount, after reducing the jury’s award because the amount they awarded for medical expenses exceed that which was entered into evidence at trial. The defendant appealed.
The Court’s Ruling
The Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for a new jury trial, agreeing with the defendant that the trial court committed a reversible evidentiary error. The defendant had sought to admit certain medical records, which it argued showed that the plaintiff had a pre-existing medical condition. The trial court had excluded the records on the basis that they did not comply with the requirement of Tennessee evidentiary law. On appeal, the court agreed with the defendant that some of the records should have been admitted at trial.
There were three sets of records, each from a different medical provider. The appellate court held that one set of records lacked a required affidavit and, therefore, was properly excluded at trial but that the other two sets of records complied with all legal requirements. Given the nature of the medical records at issue, the court of appeals found that the defendant was entitled to a new trial.
The appellate court’s decision, while a setback for the plaintiff in her quest for fair compensation for her injuries, did not mean that she “lost” her case, only that there will be a second trial during which the jury will be allowed to review additional information from her medical providers. It is entirely possible that the second jury could award the same amount of damages (or even award a more generous verdict) than the first jury or that the case could settle while the second trial is pending.
Speak to an Experienced Knoxville Car Accident Attorney
Insurance companies fight hard, even in cases in which a relatively modest amount of money is at issue. At the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C., we have many years of experience litigating against automobile liability insurance companies and others who try every trick in the book to keep injured people from getting the money they need – and to which they are entitled to under the law. Call us at 865-524-5657 for an appointment to discuss your Knoxville or Maryville car accident case.
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