Recently in Car Accidents Category

August 20, 2014

Knoxville Appeals Court Affirms Damages Award in Farragut Car Accident Lawsuit: Pyle v. Mullins

file5031340422169 kellyp42.jpgIn Pyle v. Mullins, a landscaper filed a personal injury lawsuit against a woman following a three-vehicle traffic wreck in Farragut. Although the woman admitted to liability for the crash, a jury trial was held on the issue of damages. Following trial, the jury awarded the landscaper $15,000 in damages for the injuries he sustained in the collision. After the trial court affirmed the jury's award, the man filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville.

On appeal, the man alleged that the jury's verdict should be set aside because it was based on erroneous evidentiary rulings and instructions. The landscaper also claimed the award was inadequate based on the evidence. After examining the testimony and other evidence offered at trial, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was sufficient material evidence to support the jury's damages award. Because of this, the court refused to disturb the jurors' award based on the material evidence.

Next, the appellate court addressed the landscaper's claim that the trial court committed error when it refused to instruct the jury regarding the woman's liability for any alleged aggravation of the man's purported pre-existing injuries. The court stated a trial judge should only provide a requested jury instruction where it is supported by the evidence, is part of a party to a lawsuit's theory of liability, and correctly states the law. According to the appeals court, the lower court did not commit error when it refused to issue the requested instruction to the jury because there was no evidence offered regarding the issue of the man's pre-existing injuries.

Continue reading "Knoxville Appeals Court Affirms Damages Award in Farragut Car Accident Lawsuit: Pyle v. Mullins" »

July 30, 2014

Knoxville Court Sides With Insurer in Wrongful Death Case: Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company v. Simmons

file0001977747882 morguefile hotblack.jpgIn Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company v. Simmons, a man filed a wrongful death lawsuit after his son was tragically killed in a four-wheeler accident with a motor vehicle. According to man's complaint, his son was being supervised by a neighbor's adult daughter at the time of his death. Testimony offered at trial stated the child began operating the four-wheeler without permission after the woman went inside to retrieve a jacket. While the woman was inside, the boy apparently rode the four-wheeler into a nearby street and struck a car that was being driven by an unrelated man. Unfortunately, the child was killed in the collision.

Following the fatal incident, the child's father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owner, her adult daughter, the property owner's insurance company, and the driver of the automobile that was involved in the accident. Although the insurer initially defended the property owner at trial, the company sought a declaratory judgment from the court after claiming the child's accident was not covered under the policy. Due to his interest in the outcome, the child's father was allowed to intervene in the action. The trial court held a hearing on the matter and ultimately agreed with the insurance company. The court determined that the property owner's coverage did not extend to the boy's fatal collision in the roadway. After the father's post-trial motions were denied, he asked the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, at Knoxville to review the lower court's decision.

On appeal, the man argued that the trial court failed to make sufficient findings of fact when it determined the four-wheeler was no longer on the woman's property at the time of the fatal accident and that the court committed error when it ruled in favor of the insurance company because the policy language was ambiguous. The Knoxville court first stated the trial court's decision should be upheld unless it is in conflict with the preponderance of the evidence. Next, the court said that an insurance policy is a contract and its terms should be construed according to their logical and plain meaning. After examining the language of the insurance policy, the Court of Appeals dismissed the man's claim that it was ambiguous. Because the policy interpretation offered by the bereaved father was strained and the trial court properly interpreted the plain language requirements for accident coverage included in the policy, the appellate court refused to overturn the trial court's holding.

Continue reading "Knoxville Court Sides With Insurer in Wrongful Death Case: Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company v. Simmons" »

July 16, 2014

Jury's Comparative Fault Verdict Upheld in Eastern Tennessee Auto Collision Case: Miller v. Moretz

file000197358256 morguefile o0o0xmods0o0o.jpgThe Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville has affirmed a jury's award in a car wreck case. In Miller v. Moretz, a 72-year-old driver was involved in an automobile accident with another motorist. According to disputed testimony offered at trial, the man's vehicle was either backing up into a driveway or preparing to back up when a collision occurred between the rear corner of his vehicle and the driver's side of the other vehicle. Following the crash, the elderly man and his wife filed a negligence lawsuit against the other driver over the personal injuries each allegedly sustained in the collision. In their complaint, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendant motorist failed to yield the right of way, failed to maintain a proper lookout, drove at an excessive rate of speed, followed their vehicle too closely, and more. The defendant responded by stating he was operating the vehicle in a prudent fashion. He also claimed the plaintiff failed to yield and violated the legal limitations placed on backing up a vehicle by Section 55-8-163 of the Tennessee Code.

Before trial, the defendant driver filed a motion in limine asking the court to prohibit the plaintiffs from introducing evidence related to his use of prescription medication at the time of the collision. Such a motion is normally considered by a judge while outside of a jury's presence at the beginning of a trial. It is used to determine whether certain evidence may be introduced for the jury's inspection. The defendant driver argued before the trial judge that evidence regarding his use of prescription medication should not be used for impeachment purposes because such evidence would have a prejudicial effect on him. Since the plaintiffs' lawsuit did not allege the defendant driver was somehow impaired at the time of the traffic wreck, the court granted the defendant's motion and excluded evidence related to his drug use.

Following trial, a jury found the defendant motorist 10 percent at fault for the car accident. Additionally, the jury held the plaintiff driver 90 percent responsible for the crash and valued his wife's damages at zero. Since Tennessee is a modified comparative fault state, this means the plaintiffs were not entitled to recover any compensation for their alleged injuries. Under modified comparative fault rules, an accident victim may not recover for his or her harm if a jury or judge decides the injured party was at least 50 percent responsible for the accident. The plaintiffs responded to the jury's verdict by filing a motion for a new trial. Their motion was denied, and the couple appealed their case to the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Continue reading "Jury's Comparative Fault Verdict Upheld in Eastern Tennessee Auto Collision Case: Miller v. Moretz" »

July 2, 2014

Fatal Blount County Collision Highlights the Importance of Always Wearing a Seat Belt

file5871343064709 morguefile kconnors.jpgA 75-year-old man was tragically killed in a recent motor vehicle collision on East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Walland. According to a spokesperson for the Blount County Sheriff's Office, Marian O'Briant, the man was in the process of turning onto the parkway from Rocky Branch Road when his vehicle was struck by an eastbound auto that was being driven by a Maryville teenager. Although the teen attempted to avoid the traffic wreck, she was apparently unable to stop before colliding with the rear driver's side of the man's car. Sadly, the 75-year-old was pronounced deceased at University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Following the fatal traffic crash, the teen driver and two other children were transported to Blount Memorial Hospital for medical treatment. Thankfully, all of the minors involved in the deadly wreck were treated and released. According to authorities, each child was utilizing a seat belt at the time of the collision. O'Briant stated the exact cause of the automobile accident is currently under investigation by the Traffic Safety Unit of the Blount County Sheriff's Office.

Unfortunately, this accident was apparently the second deadly collision on the East Lamar Alexander Parkway in less than one week and the eighth traffic wreck since May. Sadly, a 33-year-old man was killed in a one-vehicle crash on the parkway near Laurel Valley Road a few days prior. Authorities stated the man appeared to have lost control of his car while navigating a curve in the road and struck a tree. Although the airbags in his motor vehicle deployed, the 33-year-old was not wearing a safety belt. He unfortunately died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center after firefighters extricated him from the accident wreckage.

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June 25, 2014

Auto Insurer Not Liable for Knoxville Rental Car Accident: Progressive Hawaii Insurance Corp. v. Gulley

file8031266674277 morguefile Alvimann.jpgA recent federal lawsuit demonstrates the importance of protecting yourself by maintaining uninsured motorist accident coverage on your personal vehicle. In the case, the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville ruled in favor of an automobile insurer who was sued for damages following a motor vehicle accident involving a rental car. In Progressive Hawaii Insurance Corp. v. Gulley, a Knoxville woman rented a Nissan Maxima for a family trip. Prior to renting the car, the woman purchased liability auto insurance for her personal vehicle from Progressive Hawaii Insurance Corporation. Under the terms of the rental agreement, the woman was the only authorized driver of the Nissan.

While attending a family gathering in Knoxville, the woman's son apparently drove the rental car without her permission. He and three others allegedly drank alcohol and drove the vehicle around town before the son's friend got behind the wheel of the Nissan. While the friend was driving, the Nissan was involved in an injury traffic wreck with another automobile. Unfortunately, one of the occupants of the rental car was also killed in the crash.

After a personal injury lawsuit was filed against the woman and her insurer in the Eastern District of Tennessee, the insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment. When a party to a lawsuit files such a motion, that party is asking the court to rule that no material facts are in dispute and enter judgment in the party's favor based upon the undisputed evidence offered in the case. According to the insurance company, it had no duty to defend or indemnify the woman because the rental car was not a covered vehicle under the terms of the liability policy. Additionally, the insurer claimed that the individual operating the car at the time of the crash was not a covered driver.

Continue reading " Auto Insurer Not Liable for Knoxville Rental Car Accident: Progressive Hawaii Insurance Corp. v. Gulley" »

June 11, 2014

Another Jury Verdict Upheld by Knoxville Court in Car Accident Lawsuit - Salyer v. Linnen

file7571263662948 morguefile schick.jpgThe Tennessee Court of Appeals in Knoxville has refused to overturn a jury's finding that two drivers were equally responsible for a traffic wreck. In Salyer v. Linnen, two motor vehicles collided at a traffic light while both were turning off of U.S. Highway 11-E in Sullivan County. According to testimony offered at trial, the plaintiff was southbound on the highway when she slowed to turn right onto Allison Road. At the same time, the northbound defendant turned left onto the same road. The two vehicles apparently struck one another while each motorist made their respective turns. After the crash, the plaintiff and her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. In addition, the couple asked the court to award compensation for property damage and loss of consortium. In response to the plaintiff's lawsuit, the defendant filed a countersuit against her.

At trial, both the plaintiff and a law enforcement officer who investigated the accident offered testimony that stated the defendant admitted to fault at the accident scene. An Officer with the Bluff City Police Department also testified that the rear passenger side of the defendant's vehicle sustained damage in the collision, while the front driver's side of the plaintiff's car was damaged. He stated both drivers appeared nervous, but neither showed any obvious signs of physical harm immediately following the crash. The officer claimed that the automobile crash took place beneath the traffic signal. The defendant testified that she followed all traffic laws and took the turn with caution. She also denied admitting any fault at the scene of the collision.

At the close of evidence, a jury determined that both parties were 50 percent responsible for the injury accident. Because Tennessee is a modified comparative fault accident state, this means neither party was compensated for her accident injuries. In a state that adheres to modified comparative fault, a plaintiff who is 50 percent or more responsible for his or her personal injury may not recover compensation. In contrast, a plaintiff who is held 49 percent or less responsible for his or her accident injuries may recover for any harm sustained, but the award will be reduced by the amount of responsibility a jury or judge attributed to the plaintiff.

Continue reading "Another Jury Verdict Upheld by Knoxville Court in Car Accident Lawsuit - Salyer v. Linnen" »

May 28, 2014

Fatal Maryville Wreck Demonstrates Victims Deserve Compensation for Injuries Despite Criminal Charges

file841272198500 morguefile username Jusben.jpgA 27-year-old Walland motorist was recently charged with vehicular homicide, assault, and reckless endangerment in connection with a deadly three-car crash on U.S. Highway 411 in Blount County. According to local authorities, the man was northbound on the roadway when he attempted to pass another motorist at a high rate of speed in the center lane. The 27-year-old apparently lost control of the vehicle and crossed into the southbound lanes where he struck two other automobiles. Sadly, a 72-year-old Tellico Plains woman was killed in the traffic wreck. A 76-year-old passenger in her car was taken by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical center for treatment. Additionally, a 19-year-old Maryville woman was treated and released by Blount Memorial Hospital for injuries she purportedly sustained in the crash.

Local authorities stated all three victims were wearing a seat belt when the wreck occurred. The Walland man who stands accused of causing the fatal accident, however, sustained a number of avoidable wounds when he was ejected from his vehicle. The man was apparently released from the hospital the same day he was criminally charged.

The exact cause of the deadly collision is under investigation by the Traffic Safety Unit of the Blount County Sherriff's Office. At this time, law enforcement apparently believes drugs or alcohol may have played a role in the fatal traffic accident. A spokesperson for local authorities stated toxicology results on the 27-year-old driver are still pending.

Continue reading "Fatal Maryville Wreck Demonstrates Victims Deserve Compensation for Injuries Despite Criminal Charges" »

May 14, 2014

Tennessee Insurance Policy Offsets And Subrogation -- Poper Ex Rel. Poper V. Rollins; Sherer v. Linginfelter

licensplateRecently we discussed the numbers of uninsured ("UM") and underinsured ("UIM") motorists on Tennessee roadways. Because of this, it is important to make sure that your insurance policy covers you in case you suffer injuries caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists.

However, your insurance company may try to avoid paying your UM and UIM coverage. Your policy may have limits on the UM and UIM coverage. In Tennessee, there are two common limits to insurance UM and UIM premiums, offsets and subrogation.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, and the at-fault driver has no insurance or inadequate insurance, you should speak with a local attorney who understands Tennessee policies and knows how to protect your rights. The Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. takes car accident cases seriously and has successfully represented clients involved in accidents with uninsured and underinsured drivers.

Offsets: Poper ex rel. Poper v. Rollins

Tennessee Code Annotated § 56-7-1201(d) ("§ 1201(d)") allows insurance companies to offset their UM or UIM payments against other claims that a policy holder may receive. For example, if you are injured in an accident because of the negligent driving of an uninsured motorist, and you sue the uninsured motorist, the insurance company can offset their coverage by the amount you receive from the lawsuit. The purpose of offsets is to prevent unjust enrichment where a policy holder may get paid twice.

Continue reading "Tennessee Insurance Policy Offsets And Subrogation -- Poper Ex Rel. Poper V. Rollins; Sherer v. Linginfelter" »

May 7, 2014

Make Sure Your Tennessee Auto Insurance Policy Covers Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists, Especially If You Use Ride-Share Programs

Thumbnail image for RideShare.pngIf you or a loved one has been injured by the negligent driving of another, you are encouraged to speak with a Knoxville or Maryville car accident attorney. The Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. takes car accident cases seriously and is committed to providing compassionate and aggressive representation in order get you the compensation you deserve.

Being in an accident can be financially difficult with the potential lost wages, required medical care, property damage, and other losses. If you are in a vehicle accident in Tennessee, the other driver, even if they are at fault, may lack the insurance to cover your injuries or, even worse, they may not be carrying any insurance.

More than 20% of all Tennessee drivers do not carry automobile insurance. Just recently, two high profile accidents were reported in Knoxville where the alleged at-fault driver was cited for not having proof of insurance. Furthermore, the Tennessee Department of Commerce has recently warned about the lack of coverage of ride-share programs.

Continue reading "Make Sure Your Tennessee Auto Insurance Policy Covers Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists, Especially If You Use Ride-Share Programs" »

April 30, 2014

Blount County Case Highlights the Importance of Hiring the Right Car Accident Attorney: Brown v. Juarez

file5601297827370 morguefile mconnors.jpgTennessee's Knoxville Court of Appeals has refused to set aside an order dismissing a personal injury action for failure to prosecute. In Brown v. Juarez, several plaintiffs sued a number of defendants over injuries the plaintiffs allegedly sustained in a 2007 Tennessee traffic collision. About two years after discovery began, attorneys for the plaintiffs apparently ceased all activity related to the case. Three years later, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the civil action due to the plaintiffs' purported failure to prosecute the lawsuit. The defendants reportedly supplied a hearing notice regarding their motion to dismiss the case at the bottom of the motion and sent it to only one of the two lawyers who represented the plaintiffs. When no counsel for the plaintiffs attended the dismissal hearing, the Circuit Court for Blount County granted the defendants' motion and dismissed the personal injury lawsuit.

After their case was dismissed, the plaintiffs sought to set aside the court's dismissal order. The attorney who received a hearing notice on behalf of the plaintiffs admitted that he simply overlooked the relevant information. Still, he claimed the hearing notice was ineffective, the notice should have been sent to both of the plaintiffs' attorneys, and his clients' failure to attend the hearing was excusable. After the trial court refused to set aside its order dismissing their personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiffs filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville.

The appeals court found that the notice provided to the plaintiffs was sufficient because it was provided to them in a timely manner and pursuant to local rules. In addition, the court held the plaintiffs were provided with sufficient hearing notice because the attorney who received the notice was the primary contact for any correspondence regarding the case and the plaintiffs' other lawyer appeared to be no longer engaged since he failed to sign their motion to set aside the dismissal.

Continue reading "Blount County Case Highlights the Importance of Hiring the Right Car Accident Attorney: Brown v. Juarez" »

April 16, 2014

Another Plaintiff Loses A Claim For Failing To Follow Court Procedure By Not Perfecting An Appeal: Peterson V. Lepard

gavel case dissmissedA Tennessee appellate court dismissed another case for failure to follow procedural rules. In the last month, we have discussed several cases where the Tennessee courts dismissed a case because the statute of limitations had tolled. Tennessee courts are serious about their procedural rules.

In the most recent case, a court of appeals in Tennessee dismissed Peterson V. Lepard for failure to "perfect" a timely appeal. Perfecting an appeal means filing all the documents and satisfying all the statutory, regulatory, and rules required to have a case sent to an appellate court. Generally, perfecting an appeal requires all documents to be in order, all the necessary attachments must be attached, and required payments have been made.

If a party loses a decision by a trial, that party may be entitled to appeal the decision to a circuit court. The Tennessee General Assembly and the courts have created several rules in order to ensure justice in an effective and efficient manner.

Continue reading "Another Plaintiff Loses A Claim For Failing To Follow Court Procedure By Not Perfecting An Appeal: Peterson V. Lepard" »

April 9, 2014

Time Limitations For Serving Process On A Tennessee Defendant When You Have Been Injured In A Car Wreck: Gates v. Perry

Glasses and DocumentsEvery case brought in Tennessee has procedural steps to follow, and knowing these procedures and their timelines can be crucial to winning a case. Furthermore, failing to file important actions in a timely manner or missing important deadlines can get your law suit dismissed.

Even failing to file actions properly can get a claim dismissed. Last month, the Tennessee courts dismissed the third case in a handful of months for failing to properly follow the statute of limitations. If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligent acts of another, you are encouraged to speak with a Knoxville or Maryville car accident attorney who will be able to guide you and your case through the complicated legal process.

Gates v. Perry
In March, the Court of Appeals at Knoxville ruled on a statute of limitations dispute involving a car accident case. In Gates v. Perry, the plaintiff suffered injuries in an automobile accident and filed a complaint against the defendant. The case involved three statutory deadlines for the filing of a complaint and the service of process.

Continue reading "Time Limitations For Serving Process On A Tennessee Defendant When You Have Been Injured In A Car Wreck: Gates v. Perry" »

April 2, 2014

Knoxville Court Case Where Rear-End Accident Not Automatically The Fault Of The Rear Vehicle -- Hicks v. Prahl

rearendcrash.pngThere is a common misperception that a driver who rear-ends another car is the one at fault. This is generally true but not always, as illustrated by a recent case heard by the court of appeals at Knoxville. There are many false and common presumptions about the law. If you have been involved in an accident in Maryville or Knoxville, an experienced car accident attorney will find aspects of your case to get you the compensation you deserve.

In order to hold a defendant accountable for damages caused by an auto accident, the defendant has to be proven negligent. Negligence can be proven when a driver fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances. The plaintiff in Hicks v. Prahl failed to prove the driver who rear-ended her negligent.

Facts of the Case

In Hicks v. Prahl, the plaintiff and defendant had been merging onto Pellissippi Parkway from Hardin Valley Road. While in the merge lane, the plaintiff stopped her car, which the defendant, following the plaintiff, recognized and stopped as well. The plaintiff began to accelerate and the defendant followed. Assuming that the plaintiff was going to merge onto Pellissippi Parkway, the defendant turned her head over her shoulder to look for traffic. When she turned back around, she was surprised to find the plaintiff's vehicle had stopped again, but the defendant failed to stop her vehicle before hitting the plaintiff's vehicle.

Continue reading "Knoxville Court Case Where Rear-End Accident Not Automatically The Fault Of The Rear Vehicle -- Hicks v. Prahl" »

March 26, 2014

Car Accident Law Suits Matter as GM Recalls 1.6 Million Dangerous Vehicles and Announces Internal Review Related to Faulty Ignition Switch

ignition.pngPersonal injury lawsuits are good for Maryville and America just in general. They can disclose hidden hazards, problems with regulations, and they promote positive change.

The recent General Motors ("GM") recall is an example of this. Certain GM vehicles have been recalled for a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to at least 12 deaths and more than 1.6 million recalled vehicles. The original lawsuit and attorney that pursued the wrongful death case helped bring awareness to the ignition problem and prompted the product recall, possibly saving a number of lives.

The car accident attorney had been approached in 2011 by the parents of Brook Melton. In 2010, Ms. Melton had been driving to her boyfriend's house when her 2005 Chevy Cobalt veered into on coming traffic, crashing into another vehicle and killing Ms. Melton. The accident had been attributed to Ms. Melton and the police officer on scene had made a determination that the vehicle lost control because Melton was speeding. The parents sought representation to help defend against a law suit by the driver of the other vehicle.

Continue reading "Car Accident Law Suits Matter as GM Recalls 1.6 Million Dangerous Vehicles and Announces Internal Review Related to Faulty Ignition Switch" »

March 19, 2014

Supreme Court of Tennessee Clarifies Adding a Known Tortfeasor After the Statute of Limitations Has Run -- Becker v. Ford Motor Company

Car AccidentIn personal injury cases involving car or motorcycle accidents, understanding legal rules like the statute of limitations, comparative fault, and relation back can be critical to winning a case. In Tennessee, a plaintiff can add a tortfeasor after the tolling of the statute of limitations if a defendant asserts another party carries some of the fault. Recently, the Supreme Court of Tennessee ruled on whether knowledge of the tortfeasor at the time of the filing of a complaint precludes the plaintiff from adding the tortfeasor.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-1-119 ("§119") provides for a situation where a plaintiff can add another tortfeasor to a personal injury case even though the statute of limitations has run. If the plaintiff brought the original complaint within the statute of limitations, and a defendant in the original complaint alleges that another tortfeasor carries some or all the fault, the plaintiff is allowed to amend the original complaint to add the tortfeasor within 90 days. If the plaintiff complies with §119, for purposes of tolling the statute of limitations, the date the tortfeasor will be considered added will relate back to the date of the original complaint.
relation back

Facts of the Case
In Becker v. Ford Motor Company, a Ford truck veered off a roadway and hit a light pole injuring the passenger in the vehicle. The passenger, Becker, brought a products liability claim against Ford motor company. Becker did not bring a personal injury claim against the driver of the truck, his son. After the tolling of the statute of limitations, Ford answered the claim, stating that Becker and the driver were at fault.

Continue reading "Supreme Court of Tennessee Clarifies Adding a Known Tortfeasor After the Statute of Limitations Has Run -- Becker v. Ford Motor Company" »