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Articles Tagged with car accident

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By Kyle Roby
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley

emergency-room-photo-300x199When you are injured in an accident, you may sue to recover the costs of reasonable and necessary medical treatment following the incident. How do you determine what those costs are and the reasonableness of them? Is it the medical bill itself? Is it what your health insurance paid? Is the other side entitled to a credit or set-off if the cost of your medical bills are reduced by insurance payments or the hospital charges a different rate for your health insurance? These are some of the questions you may have when trying to determine what is the reasonable cost of medical treatment in a personal injury case.

In most states, Courts will follow what is known as the collateral source rule. The collateral source rule is a rule of evidence that prohibits the admission of evidence that the plaintiff or victim has received compensation form other than the damages sought against the defendant. Typical examples of a collateral source are medical bills paid by health insurance or payments made by workers compensation.

Recently, the Tennessee Supreme Court was faced with the question of what was the reasonable cost for medical services in personal injury cases. This case, Dedmon vs. Steelman, is an important win for Tennessee patients and personal injury victims. The Tennessee Supreme Court heard the case in April and issued a ruling on November 17, 2017.

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Tennessee car accidentMost of the time, the plaintiff in a lawsuit arising from a motor vehicle accident is either a person who has been hurt in a crash or a family who has lost a loved one in a fatal traffic accident.

Sometimes, however, the plaintiff is an insurance company that has paid out benefits to an insured – typically for property damage or medical benefits – and is seeking repayment from the person whose negligence caused the crash.

Both individuals and insurance companies must follow procedural rules, including filing a claim within the statute of limitations and pursing resolution of the lawsuit in a timely fashion.

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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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cyclist and passengerAs one might expect, a large number of motor vehicle and motorcycle accident cases focus on the issues of who was at fault and how much money it will take to fully compensate the injured person (or deceased person’s family) for the damages suffered in the collision.

Sometimes, however, the issue is not who is at fault but instead whether a particular insurance company is obligated to pay a claim arising from the accident. Such was the case in a recent declaratory judgment action that was reviewed by the Tennessee appellate court.

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wrecked vehicleMany people think of “car insurance” as something you either have or don’t have. When a claim arises, these folks can be very surprised to learn that there are a multitude of issues outside of parties simply being insured or uninsured.

This is because, at its essence, an insurance policy is a contract that has many different terms, provisions, and exclusions. So it is very important to understand exactly what is – and is not – covered under one’s policy.

As a recent case illustrates, it is also important to discuss your policy with your insurance agent regularly, especially if your household situation changes.

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delay sign

Some of the first concepts that law students are taught involve identifying the potential parties to a lawsuit and the appropriate court to file their claim. For instance, in order to seek relief in a court of law, a potential plaintiff must have standing. This means that the party has a sufficient connection to the issue to support that person’s participation in the legal proceedings at issue.

It’s a simple enough idea. But what happens when a plaintiff dies before the matter is resolved? Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 25.01 states that, unless the claim is extinguished by the plaintiff’s death, another interested party (such as the successor or representative of the plaintiff) may file a motion to be substituted as the plaintiff.

A Tennessee appellate court recently had an occasion to review a trial court’s decision regarding this issue in a motor vehicle collision case.

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interstate

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

Many people assume that making a claim on an uninsured motorist insurance policy is fairly straightforward. After all, the other driver either had insurance or didn’t have insurance, right?

Unfortunately, uninsured motorist cases can be just as contentious and adversarial as lawsuits that are litigated between injured parties and defendants who have insurance. Not only is the amount to which the injured party is entitled a common source of dispute, but also it is not unusual for there to be a disagreement about whether the uninsured motorist policy covered the accident in question.

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Black and White empty intersection with crosswalks

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

At one time, a person injured by the negligence of a governmental entity was without a remedy, due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Basically a carryover from the English common law under which “the King could do no wrong,” the doctrine precluded a would-be plaintiff from asserting what might otherwise have been a meritorious claim against a state or local government.

Now, however, most governmental entities have consented to be sued through various tort claims acts. Such acts set forth the procedure for filing a claim, the statute of limitations, and the maximum damages that may be sought. It is important to note that, since such actions are purely statutory in nature, an injured person must strictly comply with all procedural requirements, or else his or her suit will likely be dismissed.

Even when all requirements are met, it is ultimately up to the courts to determine whether a particular claim is valid.

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jury verdict formCar accidents fall under an area of tort law known as “negligence.” To make out a successful case, a plaintiff must prove four things:  1) the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, 2) the defendant breached that duty, 3) the plaintiff sustained actual damages, and 4) the plaintiff’s damages were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty. It seems simple enough, right?

Unfortunately, many cases are not as simple as they initially seem. Issues such as comparative fault – an allegation by the defendant that the plaintiff is responsible for some part of the accident – can quickly complicate matters. The resolution of such issues often depends upon the law of the state in which the wreck occurred. This Tennessee car crash case is an example.

Kentucky is one of about a dozen states that follow the “pure comparative fault” doctrine, under which a plaintiff’s damages are reduced in proportion to his or her fault, but he or she is still allowed to recover against the defendant for the defendant’s percentage of fault. In Tennessee, however, the rule is one of “modified comparative fault,” with the plaintiff only being allowed to recover if his or her fault is less than 50%. If the plaintiff is found to be 49% at fault, he or she can recover 51% of his or her total damages, but there is no recovery at all if the parties are determined to bear equal fault.

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traffic2Most drivers carry at least some uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, but many do not understand the difficulties that may arise when it comes time to make a claim under this coverage. Unfortunately, simply having an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist does not automatically result in a payout by the insurance company, even when the insured’s injuries are catastrophic or fatal.

Instead, the insured person (or his or her family, in the event of a wrongful death), must negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or proceed to trial against the uninsured person and obtain a verdict. Even then, the insurance company has a right to appeal the verdict on the grounds that it was improper or excessive. This is exactly what happened in the recent Tennessee case of Monypeny v. Kheiv.

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