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Articles Tagged with collision

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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In the recent unpublished opinion of Taylor v. Bristol West Insurance Company, the Jefferson Circuit Court was called upon to decide whether a Kentucky trial court had jurisdiction over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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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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In an unpublished opinion, a couple was apparently injured in a Warren County car accident case that involved three vehicles. According to the couple, they were hurt when their truck was struck from behind by a minivan that was rear-ended by another car while stopped at a traffic light. As a result of their harm, the couple filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the minivan and the car operator in Warren County Circuit Court.

Prior to trial, the couple resolved their claims against the driver of the car through mediation. Because of this, the motorist did not participate in a subsequent jury trial between the couple and the minivan driver. Still, jurors were provided with apportionment instructions related to both the minivan operator and the car driver at the close of trial. Following trial, the jury issued a verdict stating the driver of the car breached his duty to maintain reasonable control of his vehicle. In addition, the jury absolved the minivan operator of liability. The Warren County Circuit Court then issued a final judgment dismissing the couple’s complaint against the minivan driver.

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