scrabble-image-of-insurance-300x184
At the Law Offices of John Day, we deal with insurance policies and insurance companies every single day. Unfortunately, all too often we see clients who declined uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or bought too low a limits for their circumstances simply because the right questions were not asked of their agent.  So start the New Year off right by taking a few minutes to talk to your agent about your coverage so that you get the best premium possible and so you are adequately protected in the event of an accident.  Below are some of the questions you should ask:

  1. What optional coverage is available? At the Law Offices of John Day, we believe the most important optional coverage is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. (If you are unfamiliar with this type of coverage and how it works, go to the side bar on the right and just type in uninsured motorist in the Search function. You will be taken to a number of articles on the subject). From our experience with our clients, most people decline this coverage because they think it will be too expensive. Talk to your agent. We think you will find it is inexpensive especially when you consider 1 in 5 drivers in Tennessee are uninsured. This coverage could mean all the difference if you are involved in an accident with one of those drivers.
  2. How will an accident affect my policy? Now some insurance companies are offering “accident forgiveness” and other similar benefits for their insureds. Discuss how an accident may affect your premium and/or even cancellation of the policy. This is especially important if you have teen drivers who tend to have more fender benders.

new-years-225x300
As the New Year approaches, many start to think about improvements they want to make in their lives for 2017.   At the Law Offices of John Day, our work involves helping people who have been injured in accidents and, since most accidents are preventable, we thought we would give you some New Year’s resolutions that can help protect you and others. The best part of these resolutions is, for the most part, they are easy and painless to implement (unlike that weight resolution most of us make). Here are our recommendations:

  1. Check your auto insurance and make sure you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. I can’t tell you how often someone calls our office with significant injuries from a car accident who cannot recover any money because the driver who caused the accident did not have insurance and the client did not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We have written a number of posts about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and you can find them here, here, here and here. But, our number one piece of advice to protect yourself would be to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with as high of limits as you can afford. You will truly be surprised at how cheap it is and it can mean the difference between receiving compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and injuries and receiving nothing.
  2. Wear your seatbelt. They save lives. Period.

rings--300x200
For most folks, the holidays are a happy time filled with laughter, family, friends and fun.  But for those who are injured or who have lost a loved one, the holidays can be an especially painful time.  Their present situation contrasted with the version of how things used to be can make the holidays nearly unbearable.  If you know of someone who is injured or who is grieving the loss of a loved one, here are some suggestions on how to help.

  1. Acknowledge their loss whether it is in the form of an injury or a death.  Simply having the supportive presence of friends and family can make a huge difference.
  2. Take them a meal.  This is a gesture that promotes physical and emotional well-being. It does not have to be anything fancy.  In fact, comfort food is king in these situations and will let that person and their family know they are thought of and loved.

Government regulations get a bad rap. To be sure, if you look long enough, you can find some that will make you shake your head and wonder, but for the most part regulations do a good job of providing protection to the public.  And, they can also be a big boost in accident claims and injury lawsuits.

As proof that regulations are needed to protect the public, one need only look at the tragic hot air balloon crash in Texas that killed the pilot and 15 passengers earlier this year. Many believe this accident occurred because the Federal Aviation Administration does very little to exercise oversight of hot air balloon operators.  In fact, regulations on hot air balloon operators are almost non-existent despite the fact that they often carry more passengers than small commuter planes and helicopters.  Unlike conventional pilots, hot air balloon operators do not have to get regular medical exams and, while the form operators must complete asks about narcotic drug charges, it specifically excludes alcohol- related driving offenses.  In the deadly Texas crash, the operator was taking at least 10 different drugs for various medical problems.  Some of the drugs including oxycodone would have disqualified him from flying conventional aircraft because of their effect on decision-making and reaction times.  Moreover, the operator had been convicted of drunk-driving on at least four occasions.  Of course, regulations do not prevent every accident, but it is probably safe to say that if the Federal Aviation Administration had implemented tighter regulations over hot air balloon pilots that this particular pilot would not have been in the sky with passengers on that fateful day.

Regulations not only provide protection to the public but they also can help your accident claim or injury lawsuit. If you are injured in an accident and you want to recover money for your injuries, you must prove that someone else was negligent, that negligence caused your injuries and the extent of your injuries and damages.  Let’s focus on negligence.  In simplest terms, you should think of negligence as either doing something you should not have done or not doing something you should have done.  Lawyers will often refer to it as a violation of the standard of care.  Part of proving the other party was negligent involves proving the standard of care, but when there is a safety regulation the standard of care has already been established by the regulation itself.  So then, all you must do is prove the defendant violated the regulation.  In other words, the regulation can eliminate one step of what is normally a two-step process.  So regulations can play a critical role in injury litigation.

Distracted Driving 2

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has introduced new guidelines to combat driver distraction and hopefully reduce car accidents.  The guidelines seek to prompt manufacturers to develop products that will reduce the risk of car crashes caused by distracted driving by either using a simplified driver interface which limits the time a driver’s eyes are averted from the road or by pairing a mobile device to the vehicle’s infotainment system.  Currently, the NHTSA’s proposals are voluntary but they are a step in the right direction especially since we continue to see car crashes like the ones below that show just how out of control distracted driving is becoming. Continue reading

Ironic door sign

Recently the investigation into the Chattanooga bus accident that claimed the lives of six children and injured dozens more has revealed parents, faculty and students had all complained about the driving of bus driver, Johnthony Walker. Ask any defense lawyer and they will tell you that prior complaints can present a huge problem for the defendant if certain requirements are met. Continue reading

photo of hybrid

A new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards is expected to save 2,400 pedestrian injuries per year.   Under the new standard, motor vehicle manufacturers have until September 1, 2019 to equip their hybrid and electric vehicles with a system that emits an audible noise under certain conditions to help alert pedestrians to the vehicle’s presence. Specifically, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 141 will require both electric and hybrid vehicles with four wheels and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs or less to make an audible noise when traveling in either forward or reverse at speeds up to 19 mph or 30 kilometers.  Continue reading

The Tennessean reports that the it is not the City of Chattanooga, the school district, or Hamilton County that owns the bus involved in the Chattanooga crash but rather a private company out of Illinois.

It that is correct, the cap on damages applicable to governmental entities discussed in my previous post  will not apply and general Tennessee damages law will be applicable.

There are artificial limits on damages that may be awarded by a judge or jury in personal injury and wrongful death cases but they are not by any means as limiting as those against governmental entities.

We wrote just a few days ago about the bus crash in Nashville involving a school bus in Chester County.  That school bus wreck was bad enough, but today’s school bus accident in Chattanooga is even more tragic.

Apparently, a school bus filled with 35 children crashed into a tree.  It has been reported that six children have died in the crash off Talley Road in Hamilton County and many others have been injured, some in critical condition.  The students attended Woodmore Elementary School.

No information about the cause of the crash is currently publicly available, although speed is being investigated as a factor.  Reportedly the school bus driver is cooperating with authorities. UPDATE:  CNN reports that the bus driver, Johnthony Walker, 24, has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving and that the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating on Tuesday November 22. Continue reading

The Chester County school bus crash in Nashville injuring 23 students (with 20 more seeking a medical evaluation) provides a good opportunity to remind our readers of one of the most unfair provisions of Tennessee law.  That’s saying a lot – there are lots of unfair parts of Tennessee personal injury and wrongful death law – but this one is a biggie.

Most people think that people and companies who harm others should be held accountable for the harm they cause.  But, when a local government causes harm, its accountability is very limited.  Local governments (and the state and federal government) can only be sued under certain circumstances and when they can be sued special rules apply.  The special rules are set forth in the Tennessee governmental tort liability act and the relevant case law.  (Claims against the State of Tennessee are addressed in a separate law.)

The Chester County school bus crash shines the light on two of the special rules.  Before I discuss them please know that I know nothing of the facts of the accident.  I have seen the news reports, but cannot vouch for their accuracy or completeness.

Continue reading