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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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Kentucky slip and fallWorkers’ compensation was designed as a compromise. An injured worker does not have to prove that his or her employer was negligent (as is required in most personal injury cases), but the worker’s monetary recovery is typically less than it would be in a negligence case. Whether or not this is a fair trade-off is a controversial subject.

The good news for an injured worker is that he or she can receive medical care and payment of temporary and, if applicable, permanent disability benefits, even if he or she cannot show that the employer did anything to cause the injury complained of. The bad news is that, even if the employer was at fault, the payout to the worker remains the same, with no compensation for pain and suffering or loss of consortium to the injured person’s spouse.

Sometimes, the parties disagree as to whether an injury was sustained during the course and scope of employment. For instance, an employee may be away from the business premises at the time of an accident (such as a car crash) but still arguably engaged in work for the employer.

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DSC03602-B morguefile dodgertonskillhauseThe Kentucky Motor Vehicles Reparations Act allows a policyholder to recover damages for an auto insurer’s denial of basic reparation benefits following a Kentucky car crash. In Risner v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. , a man sued his insurance company for payment of benefits after he was apparently injured in a Lexington, Kentucky motor vehicle collision. Following the traffic accident, the man was treated by a local chiropractor. The injured man then sought reimbursement for his associated medical expenses from his auto insurer. About six months later, the insurance company notified the policyholder that it was denying coverage for certain medical bills he incurred as a result of the crash. In Kentucky, basic reparation benefits are typically used to pay the medical bills and certain other expenses of an individual who was hurt in a car accident, regardless of fault.

After the man’s auto insurer discontinued his no-fault benefits, the injured man filed a lawsuit against the company in Rowan County Circuit Court. According to the man’s complaint, the motor vehicle insurer violated the Kentucky Motor Vehicles Reparations Act and the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act. In addition, the hurt man accused his insurance company of negligence, breach of contract, fraud, and numerous other claims. As a result, the policyholder asked the court to award him both compensatory and punitive damages. In general, punitive damages are only appropriate when a court seeks to punish a party and deter similar conduct in the future.
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untitled-1410512-mFinding out what insurance coverage is available for you after a motor vehicle accident can be challenging and complex. In a recent unpublished case, a Kentucky court had ruled an insurance company had no duty to defend or indemnify a man under a liability policy issued to a construction company. The construction company did highway mowing and landscaping, and its entire fleet of trucks was insured under a Tower liability policy. This policy excluded coverage for injuries that could be subject to worker’s compensation or a similar law.

An accident happened when an employee of the construction company fell from one of its pick-up trucks and died from his injuries. The truck was being operated by Brent Horn. Horn was not an employee of the company, but he had permission to operate the vehicle.

Afterward, the decedent’s estate filed a wrongful death action against Horn, who believed the liability policy for the trucks covered this type of action. He asked the insurance company to defend and indemnify him, which means paying any damages awarded by the jury. The insurer filed a complaint asking the court to decide whether it had to defend and indemnify Horn. The Court ruled that the insurance contract created coverage for Horn, however, because Horn was not an employee there was no coverage. Continue reading

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car-crash-274334-mIn a recent case, a decedent’s parents appealed the court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of police officers, the police department and the City. The plaintiffs were the parents of a man who was killed in 2009 in a head-on collision with a car that was driving dangerously.

Before the collision, several people called 911 to report the dangerous driver. Because of the calls, the police department asked its officers to look out for a green sedan. When the officers responded to the call they encountered a red pickup truck on Ky. 39 and were pointed towards the highway. They thought this meant the green sedan was up ahead. The red pickup pulled up and told one of the officers that the green sedan was stopped on Ky. 39 not far away.

As one of the officers drove south on the highway, he saw the green sedan at the end of a driveway on the left side of the road. Traffic stopped him from seeing license plate numbers, but he saw that the driver of the sedan looked lifeless and he was worried it was a medical emergency. Continue reading