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Articles Tagged with Tennessee

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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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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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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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Our civil justice system is built on the premise that a jury of disinterested individuals is in the best position to determine matters such as the credibility of witnesses and the amount of money that a person injured by another person’s negligence should receive in compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and so on.

Unfortunately, no system is perfect. Even juries sometimes get it wrong. When that happens, it is the trial judge’s job to grant a new trial so that justice may prevail.

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large clockIf you believe that you have a claim for personal injuries or for a loved one’s wrongful death, you should speak to an attorney about your case as soon as possible. This is because there is a limited time for filing both injury and death cases. This Tennessee product liability lawsuit case is a reminder that the statute of limitations isn’t flexible.

The statute of limitations prescribes the exact time period for bringing a claim, such as a negligence action arising from a motor vehicle collision, an act of medical malpractice, or an injury from a defective product. There may also be an applicable statute of repose that places additional constraints on the time for filing suit, based on factors such as, for example, the date an allegedly defective product was manufactured.

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parking areaIn a pedestrian accident involving a motor vehicle, most people would assume that the pedestrian’s medical expenses and other damages would be paid by the driver’s insurance carrier. If for some reason that did not happen, most would assume the injured person’s own uninsured motorist insurance would honor its contractual obligation and pay the medical claim.

Unfortunately, those assumptions proved to be wrong in a case arising from an incident that occurred in 2012. Instead, the injured man had to file a lawsuit and take his case all the way to the state supreme court in order to obtain relief under uninsured motor vehicle provisions in his insurance.

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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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If you follow this blog regularly, you have probably read several posts regarding situations in which a car accident lawsuit or other type of complaint was dismissed due to the plaintiff’s failure to file a claim within the statute of limitations. It is a common problem, and one of the reasons we emphasize contacting an attorney as soon as possible when you have been injured.

Filing a timely claim in a court of competent jurisdiction is only the first step in the process of filing a lawsuit. The complaint also has to be served upon the defendant according to the applicable rules of civil procedure.

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feet on sidewalkProperty owners and business operators owe certain duties to those who come onto their premises for a business or social purpose. A breach of this duty can potentially result in a finding of liability against the landowner and an award of damages in favor of an injured party. This is most commonly referred to as a “slip and fall” case, in which someone is injured because of property that isn’t maintained, such as a cracked sidewalk or other similar issue.

For this reason, it is increasingly common for would-be defendants to ask for a waiver of liability from those with whom they do business. It is up to the courts to determine whether such waivers are valid under the facts of an individual case.

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