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Articles Posted in Case Law Summaries

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industrial-plant-300x217Mesothelioma can take several forms:  pleural (affecting the lungs), peritoneal (in the abdominal lining), or pericardial (developing in the heart). The prognosis is not good – most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have only six months to two years to live.

All three forms of the disease are believed to be caused by the victim’s exposure to asbestos. If you are considering filing an asbestos case, know that exposure even as far back as 50 years ago can still cause mesothelioma today. Most often, exposure occurs in an industrial setting. Asbestos can be found in construction materials, buildings, and other products. Firefighters, mechanics, shipyard workers, pipe fitters, and demolition crew members are common victims of mesothelioma.

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Those who lack familiarity with the inner workings of the civil justice system may be under the impression that a lawsuit is either settled or it goes to trial in front of a jury. However, the fact is that not everyone who files suit gets their day in court, so to speak.

Many cases are decided by a judge via a process known as summary judgment. When a judge grants summary judgment, he or she is essentially saying that, even if the plaintiff is given the benefit of the doubt as to questionable evidence, the law will not allow him or her to be successful at trial.

Usually, summary judgment terminates a civil case. However, a party against whom such an order is entered may appeal the trial judge’s decision, and the court of appeals could see things differently. Continue reading

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Compared to some states, Tennessee has a very short statute of limitations for the filing of claims involving personal injury: just one year. If a claim is not filed within this time period, the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed regardless of its merits.

In addition to filing his or her claim in court within one year of the accident, the plaintiff must also serve a summons and a copy of the complaint on the defendant within a certain time period.

A recent Tennessee personal injury case illustrates the difficulties that a claimant faced when his opponent not only moved out of the county but also filed for bankruptcy protection.

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truck-on-highway-KY-300x225Generally, when someone is hurt due to another party’s negligence, the injured person has a right to seek fair compensation in a court of law. When the alleged breach of duty was by a governmental entity or government employee, however, different rules apply.

At common law, the government could not be held liable for injuries caused by negligence. This was because of the “sovereign immunity” doctrine, which held that “the king can do no wrong.”

While it is now possible to file suit against the government and be awarded money damages under some circumstances, such cases tend to be much more difficult than if the defendant had been a business or individual without government ties.

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mallThose who own or operate businesses that are open to the public have certain responsibilities to keep their premises safe for those who come onto the property for a business purpose, such as to shop at a store or eat at a restaurant.

When this duty is breached, an injured person has the right to seek monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with the accident.

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Under Kentucky law, a person who is injured on the job is entitled to benefits such as temporary and permanent disability payments and medical expenses. Usually, these benefits are less than what the worker would have received in a negligence case against someone other than his or her employer.

Thus, an employee who is hurt at work may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party whose negligence contributed to an injury at work. Of course, the third party has an incentive to assign as much fault as possible to the employer, even though the employer is immune from liability in the negligence case.

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By Kyle Roby, Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

close-up-of-road-300x200Would you consider an ATV – an all-terrain vehicle – a motor vehicle? Kentucky law and some insurance companies do not – and that’s what the case we recently won for a client concluded, to the client’s benefit.

The client, Thomas Robertson, was driving an ATV on a public roadway in Metcalfe County. Stacy Morgan was driving a vehicle on the same road, and as she attempted to pass Robertson, he turned left, and she collided with his ATV.

Both were injured in the accident. Robertson did not have insurance, but Morgan did. Robertson, driving the ATV, sought Basic Reparations Benefits (BRBs) from the insurance company that insured Morgan’s vehicle. Under the terms of Morgan’s insurance, Robertson was considered to be a pedestrian, and pedestrians are entitled to basic reparations benefits.

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Attorneys who routinely handle personal injury cases often tell clients that it can take anywhere from a few months to several years for their case to make its way through the courts or settle.

Typically, however, the litigation process does not take anywhere near as long as it did in a case decided in March by the Kentucky’s highest court. In that case, a decade passed between the plaintiff’s initial injury and the court’s decision.

One factor that extended the case’s time in the courts was a change in the applicable law while the case was pending. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, the court’s decision required their case to, once again, be remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

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truck accidentBecause of the disproportionate size and weight between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, people in the smaller vehicles tend to suffer more serious injuries in a tractor-trailer accident.

However, as a recent case illustrates, truckers also can be injured – especially when both of the involved vehicles are 18-wheelers.

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calendar appThe Kentucky appellate courts seem to have heard more uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance cases than usual lately. Perhaps the court has done this intentionally for the sake of judicial economy – the reason being that it is easier to decide cases with similar issues while all of the intricacies of a particular branch of law are still fresh in the court’s mind.

Another reason may be that there are simply more UM/UIM disputes these days than in past years. Kentucky does have mandatory automobile liability insurance requirement, but the minimum required is just $25,000 per person (or $50,000 per accident) for bodily injury claims. Given the rapidly increasing costs of medical care, this coverage is often not enough to fully compensate an accident victim for his or her medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

UM/UIM coverage bridges the gap between a defendant’s liability coverage and a plaintiff’s total amount of damages, at least up to the plaintiff’s own policy limits. It is important to note that, just as in other types of personal injury cases, timeliness is very important when it comes to asserting one’s rights under a UM/UIM policy.

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