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Articles Tagged with car wreck

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By Kurt Maier, Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

car wreck in KentuckyAs we approach Thanksgiving, travel is on the minds of many Americans.

AAA typically releases a travel forecast for Thanksgiving, but hasn’t done so yet this year. In 2016, AAA predicted that 48.7 million people would travel for Thanksgiving, with driving being by far the most popular option for getting to that destination. This was an increase from previous years, thanks to lower gas prices and improved economic conditions.

Much of that travel is by car, with many heading out on Wednesday, November 22, this year to visit family for Thanksgiving. In the south, it seems like there is road construction year-round, and that creates a lot of stop-and-go traffic. Top that off with uncertain chilly weather that can even turn icy and you’ll find a near-perfect set up for car wrecks.

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review of judgment

When a person is injured due to the negligence of another party, the injured person is entitled to pursue fair compensation for his or her injuries. In determining the amount due to a Tennessee car accident claimant, the court may consider the victim’s past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of ability to enjoy life, permanent impairment, and other factors.

If the case is tried to a jury, the jury members make this determination. If the trial court judge hears the case without a jury, he or she makes the determination.

Either way, if one party or the other is aggrieved by the amount of damages awarded by the trial court, there is the possibility of having an appellate court review the award.

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iphone calendar in handSince there are so many variables and complexities involved in a motor vehicle accident case, it is always best for those who are injured in car crashes to consult with an attorney as early in the process as possible. Issues such as the statute of limitations, notice requirements, and other matters concerning timeliness must be dealt with promptly.

The courts do not favor those who don’t exercise their rights to sue in a timely manner. Recently, a Tennessee appellate court was called upon to decide whether an insurance company (which stood in for its insured, to which it had paid damages arising from a motor vehicle accident) had forfeited its right to recover from the responsible party because it failed to file their case after the defendant appealed a verdict for the plaintiff to circuit court.

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liability insurance coverage

When a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, he or she typically expects there to be a dispute about who was at fault or how much the claim is worth. What most people do not expect, however, is that a “routine” car accident case can quickly escalate into a battle with one’s own insurance company.

A recent case decided by Kentucky’s intermediate court of appeals illustrates the difficulties that can arise when an insured’s expectations as to what is provided under a policy do not line up with the language of the actual document. The case came down to what type of insurance would be paying the claim: uninsured motorist or liability insurance coverage.

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

Car accidents, truck wrecks, and other motor vehicle crashes fall under the general law of negligence. In order to prove a negligence case, a plaintiff has to prove four separate elements:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Each element must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is when the jury finds that the plaintiff’s version of the facts is more likely true than not. It does not require the injured person to prove beyond a reasonable doubt these elements, as in the criminal justice system, but rather only that it is more likely than not that there was a breach in a duty owed to the injured person that caused damages.

Once the plaintiff has presented his or her case at trial, and the judge has determined that he or she has made a prima facie case of negligence, the defendant has the right to offer evidence that contradicts the plaintiff’s version of the facts or impeaches the plaintiff’s testimony. The jury is the ultimate trier of fact, taxed with the duty of deciding which witness to believe when the testimony is conflicting.

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Hit the road - Travel concept with vintage miniature car on road map

One of the first things that future attorneys learn in law school is that a court must have jurisdiction before it can act in a particular case. This power of the court to act is two-fold. The court must have both personal jurisdiction (power over the persons or corporations named in the suit), and it must have subject matter jurisdiction (authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter). If either is missing, the court lacks the power to adjudicate the matter and must dismiss the case.

In the recent unpublished opinion of Taylor v. Bristol West Insurance Company, the Jefferson Circuit Court was called upon to decide whether a Kentucky trial court had jurisdiction over an insurance company that issued a motor vehicle insurance policy to an Indiana resident who was later involved in a car accident in Jefferson County, Kentucky.

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Empty office workstations.

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

It often comes as a surprise to those injured in car accidents that dealing with one’s own insurance company can be just as vexing and contentious as dealing with the insurance company of the driver whose negligence or recklessness caused the accident.

Fortunately, the law does provide some protection for insureds who have to fight with their own insurance company to get that to which they are contractually entitled. However, the threshold for success in such cases is high, and not every case results in a judgment in the insured’s favor.

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intersection2

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

Although the basic law of negligence is the same across the country – namely, that to be successful, the plaintiff must show duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages – there are some nuances of negligence law that are different in various states. Thus, the outcome of a particular case can vary considerably, depending upon the state in which the accident occurred.

For instance, under the law of comparative fault, there can be wide variations in the outcome of a suit based on similar circumstances, depending upon the state where the suit is filed. The state of Tennessee follows what is called the “modified system of comparative fault.”

Beginning with the 1992 case of McIntyre v. Balentine, a plaintiff may recover damages in proportion to a defendant’s percentage of fault in an accident, as long as the defendant’s fault outweighed any fault by the plaintiff. In cases in which the jury finds the parties to be equally at fault (or finds the plaintiff to be more than 50 percent at fault), the plaintiff recovers nothing.

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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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