Recently in Tennessee Law Category

December 18, 2013

Tennessee Service of Process and the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases -- Cristy Irene Fair v. Stephen Lynn Cochran

summonsIf you have a Maryville or Knoxville personal injury case, you are encouraged to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the methods, practices, and procedures of the civil court system. It can be unfortunate to have your personal injury case dropped or encumbered by a technical error.

Recently, in Fair v. Cochran, the Supreme Court of Tennessee ruled whether service of process without proof of service would preclude a plaintiff from using commencement of a lawsuit to satisfy the statute of limitations. Service of process ensures that all parties have been timely notified of a lawsuit. In Fair v. Cochran, the plaintiff, Ms. Fair, brought a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, Mr. Cochran, claiming negligent operation of a vehicle causing a motor vehicle accident in August 2009. The plaintiff filed her complaint in Knox County in December 2009 within plenty of time for the one-year statute of limitations. The plaintiff hired a process server who claims the defendant was served process at the defendant's residence in December 2009. However, the process server inadvertently failed to notify the court with a proof of service. Proof of service was not filed until January 2011.

In January 2011, the defendant requested that the lawsuit be dismissed since he claimed he had never been served process, and the one-year statute of limitations for the claim had passed. The trial court dismissed the case, and a Tennessee Appellate court affirmed, stating that Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 4.03 required the return of proof of service within ninety days of the summons. They held that the failure to give proof of service precluded the plaintiff from using the commencement of the lawsuit, filed in December 2009, to satisfy the statute of limitations.

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March 28, 2012

Mills v. Fulmarque Illustrates Time Limitations in Knoxville Injury Claims

Timing is a critical component of all lawsuits. Federal and State statutes clearly and concisely designate specific time-frames for which pleadings and papers can be filed in order to be considered timely. Mills v. Fulmarque is an Tennessee personal injury case which arose when a man fell off of his chair and injured himself while in the workplace. The victim, Calvin Mills, then sued his employer as well as the seller of the faulty chair. Two years later, there was an attempt by one of the co-defendants to add the manufacturer to the litigation alleging comparative fault. The problem in the litigation arose because the statute of limitations had run and no other parties could be added to the litigation, thus leaving an at-fault party free from answering for their negligence.
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The court in this case finally clarifies any possible ambiguity in Tennessee statute by holding that where a state statute states, "a cause of action for injuries to the person must commence within one (1) year after the cause of action," additional parties cannot be added after the one year has run from the time of the original injury. Tenn. Code Ann. ยง28-3-104(a)(1)(2000). The court interpreted statutes to show that any statute of limitation extensions applied to the naming of new parties. This holding prevented Mills from seeking recovery from the manufacturer of the faulty office equipment. By failing to identify all potentially at- fault parties, the attorney denied Mills his opportunity to recover the injuries he sustained due to the negligence of others.

It is extremely important when involved in a lawsuit to have a Knoxville injury attorney who is well versed in the law and can file the appropriate filings within the allotted time. It is important to get it right the first time because if you do not, you can be limited in future recovery. In Mills, the attorneys did not exhaust their resources in investigating possible parties to their lawsuit and as a result, their client was not able to receive the justice he deserved. Had there been more time, the injured worker would have been able to seek remedies from all of the parties at fault. However, as in all litigation, there are strictly applied time limits for which you can file a claim. If no claim is filed, or if it is not filed against the proper parties, then you can lose your ability to sue and obtain the judgment you so rightly deserve. Lawsuits are complex and it is critical to have a well informed and meticulous advocate zealously representing your rights.

The allotting of fault and the choosing of parties is a strategic decision that is contingent on your specific state law. When determining negligence involved in an injury, you need to know how each state addresses fault and what possible defenses are available. States vary on which doctrines they follow, such as comparative negligence, contributory negligence or assumption of the risk. This is a concept that is not a central point in this case or decision, but is important for people to be aware of. This is yet another reason why you need help from a competent attorney to obtain the maximum recovery for you.

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January 24, 2012

Reports of Nursing Home Abuse in Tennessee Shut Down Facility

A number of complaints regarding nursing home abuse in Maryville resulted in approximately 100 residents being removed from the Colonial Hills Nursing Center. The nursing home allegedly lost its certification with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because of a number of problems it encountered in 2011, according to Canadian Business. These problems included some life-threatening deficiencies.
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The director of health care facilities with the Tennessee Department of Health reported that two of the facility's residents claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Other violations included patients becoming ill from overly-salted foods and complication from being given incorrect medications. The facility has been ordered to shut down and improve its standard of care before it can re-open.

Our Tennessee nursing home abuse lawyers understand that we depend on nursing homes to provide the proper care to our elderly loved ones, and that these centers have a responsibility to follow strict standards of care. Colonial Hills Nursing Center had nearly 165 residents in December when they were given the notification. Roughly 100 of those patients rely on Medicare and Medicaid. The Tennessee Department of Health ordered the facility to relocate those patients by early February.

State officials and the federal government will not pay for sub-quality care. After an investigation into the facility, there were nearly 100 pages of deficiencies identified at that one residence alone.

"This strips an individual of their dignity and respect. No one who is a vulnerable individual should be placed in this situation," said the director of health.

Tennessee state officials believe the state has some of the finest health care professionals and health care treatment facilities in the U.S. While most of these professionals are caring and competent individuals, there are problems that can arise from faulty institutions. For this reason, the state's Department of Health asks that you file a complaint if you feel that the treatment that you or a loved one is receiving from a nursing home in the state is unacceptable.

Tennessee Nursing Home Complaint Activity (2010):

-There were 325 licensed nursing homes in the state.

-Nursing homes received nearly 1,540 complaints.

-There were 300 nursing homes with one or more complaints filed. These homes accounted for more than 90 percent of all of the state's nursing homes.

-There were nearly 40 nursing homes that had 10 or more complaints filed against them. These residences accounted for more than 11 percent of the homes.

-One nursing home went bankrupt.

-There were 12 homes that were cited with standard level care.

-Five nursing homes were cited and ordered to pay a total of more than $1,569,000.

-Five nursing homes had admissions suspended.

ThirdAge.com offers residents of Tennessee with a list of the top-rated nursing homes in Knoxville. Do your homework before choosing a nursing home facility for your or your loved ones.

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January 10, 2012

Serious Burn Injuries in Knoxville and Elsewhere Accompany a Lifetime of Suffering

Burn accidents can happen practically anywhere if you're not careful. Oftentimes, these injuries can be caused by faulty wiring. They can also happen in rental units, places where smoke detectors are not available, where fire exits blocked or locked and in places not equipped with an adequate fire sprinkler system. According to the American Burn Association, nearly half a million people are injured every year in fire and burn-related accidents and require treatment from emergency rooms across the country. If that's not bad enough, another 4,000 people are killed every year in burn-related accidents. Of these fatalities, roughly 3,000 are the result of residential fires. Fire-related accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere can cause burn injuries that can be excruciatingly painful, devastating for family members and can result in permanent deformities.
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Our Knoxville personal injury lawyers understand a dispute with an insurance company and a burn victim can involve proving how the fire-related injury happened and where the heat source originated. Our attorneys help to fight for the rights of burn accident victims. Our firm can help victims evaluate the accident scene and collect relevant evidence to help you prove a case to collect the proper compensation.

Many times, these burn accidents are the result of someone else's negligence. For this reason, it is important for you to contact an experienced attorney if you've been the victim of a burn accident.

In many burn accident cases, it is necessary for a victim to determine if the building in which the accident occurred met current safety codes. In cases where buildings do not meet safety codes and the proper corrections were not made to prevent a foreseeable accident, the property owner can be held reliable for the damages and the injuries.

Of the 4,000 fatalities that occur every year because of burn accidents, about 75 percent of the victims die at the scene of the accident or during the initial transport.

Ways to Help Prevent Burn Accidents:

-Never allow the cords of appliances to dangle.

-Keep your water heater set at 120 degrees.

-Don't use any electric hair styling products near sinks in the bathroom.

-Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable.

-Keep paint and other flammable liquids in their original-labeled containers.

-Never toss out ashes, either hot or cold, in anything other than a metal container.

-Never smoke while lying in bed or near anything that's flammable.

-If you live in an apartment, know where the nearest stairwell is located.

-If you have an appliance that starts to smoke, unplug it and take it to be serviced immediately.

-Never overload outlets or extension cords.

-Follow the recommendations listed by manufacturers for bulb wattage in light fixtures.

-Never put extension cords under rugs.

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