There are several elements that must be met to successfully recover damages in a personal injury case. One factor that is very important but seldom considered by injured parties is the procedural requirements for filing a lawsuit. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee recently dismissed a case due to the plaintiff’s failure to file her lawsuit within the time required under the applicable statute of limitations. If you suffered harm in a Tennessee car accident, it is important to retain an experienced attorney who is mindful of the procedural requirements imposed by the law.

Procedural Background

Reportedly, the plaintiffs, a mother and daughter, who live in Virginia, were driving in Tennessee when they were involved in a motor vehicle collision with the defendant driver, a resident of Florida. The defendant driver was engaged in the course of his employment with an Alabama based employer. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit seeking damages for their injuries in a district court in Alabama, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative to transfer, the case to the Eastern District Court of Tennessee, which is the court for the district where the accident occurred. The court granted the motion to transfer the case. The defendants then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the one-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims in Tennessee precluded the plaintiffs’ claim.

Under federal law, for an expert report to be admissible the party introducing the report must show the expert witness is qualified, the report sets forth an opinion relevant to determining an issue of fact, and the testimony is reliable. The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee recently explained that a district court evaluating whether an expert report should be admitted is not required to analyze whether the report is correct, but only if the report is supported by a reliable foundation. If you were the victim in a Tennessee car accident, it is in your best interest to retain a knowledgeable car accident attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding the accident and develop a plan to assist you in recovering damages.

Factual Scenario

Allegedly, the plaintiff and the defendant driver were involved in a car accident. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver, a truck driver, was negligent and that his employer should be held vicariously liable for her injuries. In response, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff caused the accident. The defendants served the plaintiff with expert disclosures as required by Federal law. The defendants’ expert reviewed photographs, video footage, and analyzed the specifications of the plaintiff’s vehicle, a reconstruction program and his own experience in determining that the plaintiff caused the accident by driving into the path of the defendant driver and that the collision was minor. The plaintiff moved to preclude the expert and his report, arguing that the report was contrary to the photographs of the accident and the physical evidence. The plaintiff also argued the report alleged negligent behavior on behalf of the defendant driver, not the plaintiff.

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Under Federal and State laws regulating motor carriers, tractor-trailer drivers are required to keep logs of their driving times. If you were involved in a car accident with a tractor-trailer, the logs may be important evidence in proving the tractor trailer’s driver was negligent. While the employers of tractor-trailer drivers involved in collisions have a duty to produce any logs in a lawsuit arising out of the collision, it may not always be clear when it is necessary to retain records. The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee recently held that boilerplate language in an incident report was not sufficient to place the employer on notice that it needed to retain records. If you are involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer you should confer with an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney as soon as possible, to ensure any evidence that is helpful to your case is not lost.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff and a defendant tractor-trailer driver were involved in a collision in October 2016. Plaintiff sued defendant driver for negligence and defendant’s employer for vicarious liability. In June 2017, plaintiff sent defendants correspondence in which she requested that defendants preserve any evidence related to the accident, and specifically asked defendants to retain any daily logs produced by the electronic logging device in the truck for the date of the accident and the six months preceding the accident. Defendants advised plaintiff they no longer had the logs due to the fact that they were automatically overwritten every six months. Plaintiff filed a motion for sanctions against defendants alleging that defendants purposefully destroyed evidence related to the accident.

If you were injured in a car accident, the other driver may dispute the cause and extent of your injuries. One method the other driver’s attorney may employ to attempt to diminish your injuries is to introduce medical records that indicate that your alleged injuries existed prior to the accident. While you may think it is in your best interest to preclude any medical records that are not related to treatment from injuries caused by the accident, in a recent case, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee held that a trial court erred in excluding medical records indicating a pre-existing condition at the plaintiff’s request and remanded the case for a new trial. As such, if you are involved in a Tennessee car accident, it is important to retain a knowledgeable Tennessee personal injury attorney to assess the facts of your case and assist you in gathering evidence to support the claim you suffered new injuries or that an existing injury was exacerbated due to the accident.

Facts of the Case

Plaintiff sued defendant, alleging defendant’s negligence caused a car accident that resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. The case was tried in front of a jury, who found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her damages in the amount of $70,000.00. Defendant moved for a new trial, which the court denied. Defendant appealed.  On appeal, defendant argued, in part, that the trial court erred in excluding plaintiff’s pre-accident medical records and testimony regarding plaintiff’s medical expenses. Defendant further argued that plaintiff lacked sufficient testimony to establish her injury was permanent, and justify the award of damages that arose out of permanency.

Recently, a 53-year-old man from Del Rio was killed on in a Tennessee car accident on East Highway 25/70. A trooper reported that she and other first responders had been sent to the intersection of the highway and another road shortly before 6:30 p.m. due to the 2-vehicle accident. When the trooper arrived, she learned that the man was traveling east when he tried to pass a 2013 Honda CRV that was being operated by a 59-year-old man and his 63-year-old wife, who was 63. Their vehicle was stopped in the roadway.

When the accident happened, the decedent’s front tire hit the couple’s CRV from behind causing both vehicles to move to the left of the road and roll over. The decedent hit a utility pole and came to a stop. The decedent wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

If your loved one was killed in a car accident, you may be able to recover damages by bringing a wrongful death claim. Under Tennessee Code section 20-5-106, a wrongful death is a death caused by the injuries suffered from another or by another’s killing, omission or wrongful act. Wrongful death claims are basically personal injury claims, in which the injured person has passed on and so a family member or personal representative of the decedent’s estate has the right to bring the claim.

Recently, a Tennessee car accident led to a man being charged in criminal court. The car crash occurred on I-55 and I-240 and killed a 13-year-old girl. At the time of the accident, the man was driving on a suspended license and didn’t have insurance. He collided with an SUV parked on the side of the road. The thirteen-year-old was taken to the children’s hospital in critical condition, and later died from her injuries. Others were taken to the hospital while not in critical condition.

Inside the man’s truck were empty beer cans and vodka bottles. Someone who knew the man told the press that the man was disabled and helped people in the neighborhood find jobs.

If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a drunk driving accident, you may be able to recover damages through a civil suit. As with other types of car accident cases, you’ll likely need to show the drunk driver’s negligence by proving: (1) the drunk driver owed you a duty, (2) breach of duty, (3) actual and proximate causation, and (4) actual damages. It’s unusual for juries to award punitive damages for car accidents. However, punitive damages are sometimes awarded in drunk driving cases in order to punish the defendant and deter future misconduct. In order to obtain punitive damages you’d need to show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted recklessly, fraudulently, intentionally or maliciously.

In a recent Tennessee construction accident, an appellate decision was announced after a construction worker fell from scaffolding while working in a factory. The worker ran an extension cord over the warehouse floor so that he could reach an outlet in which to plug in a screw gun that he would use to put in sheetrock during renovation. The factory owner’s employee drove a forklift over the extension cord, which dislodged scaffolding. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the factory owner, finding there weren’t any factual disputes and no duty to warn.

The case arose when the plaintiff was employed by a subcontractor of a contractor hired to renovate an LLC’s warehouse. When he fell, the plaintiff was using a screw gun to install sheetrock on an inner wall. The screw gun was plugged into a 100-foot extension cord. He said the use of the extension cord was needed because the only source of electricity was in another place in the warehouse. As the sheetrock was being installed the defendant’s employee had moved product through the door with a forklift.

The plaintiff and his brother had hung sheetrock in that same spot for three days before the accident. On the accident date, the factory employee drove a forklift in reverse through the door and didn’t see the extension cord or the plaintiff. The cord got tangled up in the forklift and triggered the plaintiff’s fall 10 feet down to the concrete floor.

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In a recent Tennessee appellate decision, the court considered a lawsuit arising out of a tractor-trailer accident. One of the plaintiffs was hauling a trailer owned by the defendant with an over-the-road tractor. The hauler’s wife was riding as a passenger on the accident date. The hauler and his wife filed suit claiming that the accident happened because the trailer’s tandem axle suddenly came loose as they went down the highway and that the tractor-trailer overturned. The wife was injured and the trailer and tractor were damaged.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that the owner of the trailer had exclusive control over it and had negligently inspected and maintained it and hadn’t made sure the trailer complied with all federal motor vehicle safety standards. The plaintiffs claimed the trailer had caused the accident and that the wife had suffered severe and permanent bodily injuries as a result of the accident. The plaintiffs also claimed the husband had incurred lost wages due to total loss of the tractor. They asked for damages of $850,000 and later added a request for punitive damages, claiming that the defendant falsified its year inspection reports.

The defendant answered, denying claims of negligence and wrongdoing. The defendant claimed that the causes of the accident were the plaintiff’s speeding and failure to control the tractor and use reasonable care. It also claimed the plaintiff hadn’t performed the requisite pre-trip inspection in accord with federal motor carrier safety regulations and that his own negligence barred recovery.

In personal injury and car accident cases, one of the central issues that a jury must decide is whether a plaintiff has been injured and, if so, the extent of those injuries. This is typically done through the introduction of medical bills, statements of medical providers, and disclosure of results of tests and other treatments. In order to properly mount a defense and argue for lesser damages, defendants are entitled to access to a plaintiff’s relevant medical records and even to have an independent medical evaluation conducted in order to determine the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Although independent medical evaluations (IMEs) may seem invasive, they are permitted under the rules and must be complied with, as a recent case illustrates.

In this car accident case, C.P. was injured after a severe accident with K.B. C.P. sued K.B. alleging that his negligent driving was the cause of the accident and that he was responsible for her physical injuries, emotional distress, and future medical issues that might arise. K.B. acknowledged that he had some fault for the accident but disputed the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries. During discovery, K.B. sought to set up an IME with C.P. to have her reviewed by an independent medical provider. Despite repeated inquiries, C.P. refused to comply with K.B. in setting up a date for the IME. Eventually K.B. unilaterally set up a date and C.P. failed to appear.  At this point, K.B. went to the court requesting that the court order an IME. C.P. moved for a protective order but failed to provide details for why she needed protection and it was denied. The court ordered that the parties work together to schedule an IME.

K.B. reached out to C.P. four times in separate letters offering dates for a possible IME but received no response. After being unsuccessful at scheduling the IME, K.B. filed a motion to dismiss C.P.’s complaint. The trial court found that C.P. was in willful disobedience of the court’s order to schedule an IME. However, rather than dismiss the complaint, the court imposed sanctions prohibiting C.P. from presenting any evidence of her injuries, including medical bills or medical testimony, at trial. After an eventual trial in the case, the jury awarded C.P. only $500 for her injuries and she appealed.

When a defendant causes a plaintiff’s injury, it is generally understood that the plaintiff can bring a lawsuit against the defendant if there is a basis to do so. For example, if the defendant rear ends the plaintiff in a car accident, the plaintiff may sue for those injuries. Or if a defendant fails to maintain his property safely and knowingly allows dangerous conditions to occur, and a plaintiff is injured, a lawsuit may be possible. In some instances, however, the state of Tennessee wants to prohibit lawsuits for certain public policy purposes. It may do so by making certain defendants immune from liability under certain situations. A recent case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals looks at one of these scenarios.

In this Tennessee personal injury case, F.T. was a prison inmate who was working on a work detail building a bridge. He was pouring concrete for the bridge when some of the concrete spilled into his boots. This lead to chemical burns on F.T.’s feet and permanent scarring. F.T. sued Wayne County, where he was incarcerated, for his injuries, asserting they had been negligent in allowing workers to use concrete without necessary protections. Wayne County immediately moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that F.T. was not allowed to sue for injuries that occurred during work detail under Tennessee law. Specifically, it argued that counties operating prisons and work details were immune from liability under Tennessee statute. The lower court reviewed the statute and agreed, and dismissed the lawsuit.

On appeal, F.T. argued with the lower court’s interpretation of the statute. Tennessee’s statute sets forth two categories of individuals who may be placed on work detail: (1) all prisoners sentenced to the county workhouse and (2) any prisoner sentenced for a period of less than a year to the workhouse or to county jail.  The statute further stated that not state or municipal agency or official should be liable to any prisoner who is injured on a work detail.  F.T. argued that the immunity provision of the statute should be interpreted only to apply to categories (1) and (2) of prisoners and not all prisoners on work detail. Because he was not one of these two categories, F.T. argued that Wayne County was not immune from liability for his injuries.

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