Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

Not all car accidents involve two vehicles. Instead, in many cases, a car accident will, unfortunately, involve a car and a pedestrian. In many lawsuits in which a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, the driver of the vehicle will attempt to evade liability by arguing that the pedestrian caused the collision, and if the jury finds the defendant driver’s evidence to be compelling, the pedestrian may be denied compensation. This was shown in a recent Tennessee car accident case in which the court denied a plaintiff’s motion for a new trial after the jury found in favor of the defendant.  If you were struck by a vehicle, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney to help you protect your rights.

Factual Background and Procedure of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff visited Tennessee as a tourist in 2005. During her stay, she jogged along the side of a highway. She decided to cross the highway, and while she was crossing, she was struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant. The plaintiff suffered severe injuries and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim. Following a trial, the jury found that the plaintiff was 80% at fault, and the defendant was 20% at fault for the accident. The plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion, after which she appealed.

The Standard for Setting Aside a Jury Verdict

Under Tennessee law, a court will only set aside a jury’s findings of fact if there is no material evidence in support of the jury’s verdict. A trial judge is tasked with acting as the thirteenth juror and independently weighing the evidence to determine if it is in favor of the jury verdict. If the trial judge finds the verdict to be dissatisfactory, he or she must grant a new trial or set aside the  verdict.

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Sometimes when an accident occurs, the cause of the accident can easily be assigned to one person. For example, a drunk driver may hit another driver who is cautiously driving down the road. Other times, the cause can be more convoluted. While a perpetrator may be driving recklessly down the road, the victim may likewise be speeding at the time the accident occurs.

A recent Tennessee premises liability case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals looks at a question of complicated negligence and evaluates how fault should be assigned to the various parties involved. R.O. was a builder in Tennessee who visited the East Nashville Convenience Center to dispose of building materials. The Convenience Center was a place where local residents could go to dispose of trash too big for normal pickup. The Convenience Center had two levels, one with trash bins below and one above where individuals could park their cars to throw their trash down into the lower bins. To avoid cars falling off the upper level, it was surrounded by a concrete barrier that had several holes, or cuts, used for drainage purposes.

R.O. drove his truck up to a parking spot on the upper level and got out of his car to dispose of his trash. He stood on the concrete barrier to make it easier to throw trash down below and walked back and forth from his car to the bin. While attempting to dump his trash, he stepped into one of the cuts used for drainage purposes and fell five feet below to the lower level, breaking his arm. Shortly thereafter, he sued the Metropolitan Government of Nashville for maintaining a dangerous condition at the Convenience Center and failing to properly warn citizens.

As previously mentioned on this blog, governmental actors are entitled to many special protections in Tennessee when they are the subjects of lawsuits. Under the Tennessee Governmental Immunity Act, governmental agencies and their employees are immune from liability in certain situations. Typically, when a governmental agency or entity is sued, the burden is on the plaintiff to show that governmental immunity does not apply. If the plaintiff cannot do so, the lawsuit will most likely be dismissed, as illustrated in a recent Court of Appeals case.

In this Tennessee premises liability case, L.W. sued the Chattanooga-Hamilton Hospital Authority after she was severely injured while visiting one of their hospitals, Erlanger, for an appointment. At the time, L.W. was recovering from a broken arm and had an appointment to visit her orthopedic doctor. When she arrived at Erlanger, she stepped into the hospital waiting room to wait for her appointment. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she was standing next to an emergency exit door that had no signage or distinguishing features. When an Erlanger employee suddenly exited the door, the door rammed into L.W., causing her to fly across the room and land on her back.

At the time of the accident, she could no longer feel anything below her neck and believed that she was paralyzed. It was later discovered that she had fractured her hip. As a result of the accident, L.W. lost significant mobility, was required to use a walker, and lived with constant pain.

Landowners and individuals who invite another person into their home owe their invitees a duty to protect them from unreasonably dangerous conditions.  But what happens when an invitee is also aware of the dangerous condition and knowingly attempts to navigate it, but ultimately hurts him or herself? Is the landowner still liable for the injuries that occurred, or does the invitee take on liability because they willingly subjected themselves to such conditions? A recent case before the Supreme Court of Kentucky looks at liability when the danger is “open and obvious.”

In Goodwin v. Al J. Schneider Co., Mr. Goodwin was attending a convention at Galt House, owned by the defendant.  On the second day of the convention, Mr. Goodwin slipped and fell while getting into the bathtub and injured his knee.  The bathtub in his room did not have a bathmat, and the floor of the bathtub was quite slick.  After his fall, the Galt House provided Mr. Goodwin with a bathmat, and he later learned that many of the other rooms at the Galt House already had bathmats. In response, Mr. Goodwin sued, arguing that the slick surface of his bathtub was a dangerous condition and that the Galt House knew it was dangerous because it provided other rooms with bathmats. By failing to put a bathmat in his room, Mr. Goodwin alleged that the Galt House knowingly failed to exercise reasonable care for his safety. In response, the Galt House moved for summary judgment, arguing that Mr. Goodwin was equally aware of the slick surface of the bathtub and should have exercised care himself. Since he did not do so, he was liable.

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Negligence in a personal injury lawsuit can be proven by a variety of means. A witness may testify to observing negligent behavior, or the negligent actions may be documented in writing. Alternatively, there may be independent objective evidence of negligence, or, in rare instances, negligence may be inferred from the circumstances of the case. When evidence of negligence is presented in a manner that the trial court is in the best position to observe, such as through witness testimony, appellate courts will generally give significant deference to the observations and conclusions of the trial court. However, when the evidence of negligence can be independently evaluated by the appellate court (such as in the case of a writing), the appellate court may, in some circumstances, re-evaluate that evidence on its own and reach an independent conclusion.  In a recent case before the Court of Appeals in Knoxville, the Court took it upon itself to review video evidence previously provided to a trial court and ultimately reversed the trial court’s decision.

In Peters-Asbury v. Knoxville Area Transit, Ms. Peters-Asbury sued for injuries she incurred while riding Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) buses.  Ms. Peters-Asbury was a student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville at the time of the accident, and she had received a pass from the University to utilize KAT’s disability bus services. She had a lingering knee injury that gave her significant mobility restrictions.  On Ms. Peters-Asbury’s first day of classes, she requested transport from KAT to get her from one of her classes, at Bueller Hall, to the Disability Services office on campus, which was at Dunford Hall.  The KAT bus, driven by Michael Chigano, picked her up and transported her to Dunford. However, rather than using the main entrance, the bus dropped her off at a side entrance. As she was exiting the bus, Ms. Peters-Asbury tripped, fell, and fractured her ankle. She ended up in a wheelchair and ultimately had to withdraw for the semester, due to lingering complications from the injury.

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The doctrine of premises liability in Tennessee provides that, in certain situations, property owners can be held liable for injuries or accidents that occur to members of the public on their property. As Tennessee courts have previously acknowledged, however, “negligence cannot be presumed by the mere happening of an injury or accident.” Instead, a plaintiff seeking to recover compensation for injuries must show that there was a duty of care that the property owner owed to the plaintiff and that the property owner’s actions, or lack thereof, amounted to a breach of that duty, resulting in injuries to the plaintiff. While a duty of care should prevent property owners from knowingly ignoring obvious dangerous conditions on their property, it does not require them to prevent every possible injury from occurring, especially those that could not have been foreseen. A recent case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals illustrates this point.

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When an employee causes an injury to another person while acting within the scope of his or her employment, many times an employer can also be held liable for such injuries under the idea of vicarious liability.  Thus, when a bus driver is in an accident while performing the duties of his job, a bus company, or the employer who hired the driver, may also be responsible for the driver’s negligent actions because they occurred on the job. At the same time, employers may be directly responsible for injuries caused by an employee when they fail to correctly train an employee, or are negligent in their hiring of the employee and overlook red flags that should have been addressed.  A recent case in the Tennessee Court of Appeals addresses a novel question before the Tennessee courts:  can employers be both vicariously liable for injuries caused by their employees and directly liable for those injuries as well? Jones v. Windham et al. suggests that they can.

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Gun control and gun rights are a hot topic of political debate in cities and communities throughout the country, and Tennessee is not immune to such controversy.  In the wake of increasing gun violence and a rise in gun-related deaths, proponents on both sides dispute whether the route to improved public safety involves stricter gun controls or greater gun freedom.  In Tennessee, at least one legislator proposes that all individuals should be entitled to protect themselves through the purchase and use of a gun, and those who would act to impede such freedoms should be held liable for any death or injury that may result.

Recently, Republican Senator Dolores Gresham introduced Senate Bill 1736. The bill provides that business owners who operate gun-free areas can be held liable for any injury that occurs to a concealed permit holder who is on their property but is not carrying a gun because of the gun-free restrictions.

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Auto accidents can happen to even the most cautious drivers. Maybe another driver ran a red light and hit you; maybe a multi-vehicle accident has left insurance coverage in question. These are just two examples of the types of auto accident cases taken on by the Nashville Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of Eric Beasley.

How a Nashville Accident Attorney Can Help

You might not know what to expect the first time you visit a lawyer’s office. To start with, you’ll be asked to describe the situation you’re concerned about. This interview will take place before any papers are signed so you won’t be held to any obligation if the Nashville Accident Lawyer is unable to assist. You’ll also be informed of steps involved in filing a car accident claim. This will give you an idea of how quickly your case can be resolved. If everything is agreeable to you, a contract will be available for you to sign. You’ll receive a copy of the document for your own records; it is part of your attorney’s legal responsibility to provide you with a copy of the contract so you can refer back to it in the future.

A father of four was killed on Wednesday when he, his wife and three of their children were riding bikes on a road near their home in Coffee County on Wednesday evening. The accident occurred when the driver of a van was blinded by the afternoon sun and struck the man from behind, killing him almost instantly. His wife was hospitalized for neck and back injuries, and their 10-year-old daughter was treated for minor injuries. The other two children were uninjured in the crash.

Unfortunately, cyclists and pedestrians involved in motor vehicle accidents often suffer serious or fatal injuries. Many of these accidents are caused by negligent or reckless conduct on the part of motor vehicle drivers. If you have been injured in an accident that resulted from the negligence of another, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. An experienced Murfreesboro auto accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Free Consultation with a Murfreesboro Auto Accident Attorney