Articles Posted in Damages in Death Cases

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First, allow me to use an example to explain subrogation: You are hurt in an accident. You go to the emergency room, are admitted to the hospital for several weeks and then have a few months of follow-up appointments and physical therapy.   After deductibles and co-pays, your health insurance company pays all of your medical bills. After you recover from the accident, you settle your injury case with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Using the money you got from your settlement, you buy your first home. Several months later, you get a letter from your medical insurance carrier demanding to be paid back for the medical bills they paid on your behalf after the accident.   You no longer have the cash because you bought a home, but they are threatening to sue you.

Can they do that? What about if you are on Medicare or Tenncare? Isn’t that why you paid the premiums for your medical insurance? If they sue me, could they take my house or garnish my wages?   What if I never tell them about my accident? Continue reading

Davidson County Court House

According to the Administrative Office of the Courts data, for the 2013-2014 reporting year, there were 10,232 tort cases filed in the State of Tennessee. (Tort cases are claims for injury or death and include medical malpractice or healthcare liability claims.) During that same time frame, 10,322 cases were concluded in some fashion such as dismissal, settlement or trial. However, very few were concluded by way of a trial. In fact, only 416 cases or 4% of tort or healthcare liability cases were tried in the entire State of Tennessee last year. So what kind of verdicts were returned in these 416 cases? Continue reading

train photo

Almost two decades ago, Congress decided $200 million should be the most a passenger train company like Amtrak should be required to pay to injury victims. Sounds like a lot of money, but let’s look at that for just a moment.

Passenger trains can hold hundreds of people and train wrecks can cause an array of injuries from broken bones to death. Without knowing how many people would be injured or what type of injuries they sustained, Congress set a limit on how much money, as a group, they could recover. Congress set a limit without knowing how many people would be killed and what those lives lost meant to their families. For example, was the person who was killed the sole breadwinner for a family consisting of three very young children?  But it gets worse.  Continue reading

It is Friday and we are covering verdict and trial statistics for the last of the largest four cities in Tennessee — Memphis/Shelby County,  the Thirtieth Judicial District.  

Last fiscal year, 1,747 new tort cases (lawsuits for personal injury or wrongful death) were filed in Shelby County courts and 1,817 were resolved.  Shelby County had more trials than any other county in the State with 76 — 53 jury trials and 23 bench trials.  Of those 76 trials, the injured party won 44 of the cases.  In the other 32 cases, the injured party did not receive any compensation whatsoever. 

In terms of verdicts, the total dollar amount awarded in all 44 trials was $10,891,198.00 for an average award of $247,527.00.  The verdicts can be broken down even further:  37 of the trials resulted in verdicts of less than $100,000.00; 5 of the trials resulted in verdicts ranging between $100,000.00 to $999,999.99; and 2 of the trials resulted in verdicts that exceeded One Million Dollars.  Obviously, a relatively small number of large verdicts had a significant impact on the average verdict figure.

Historically, Shelby County (Memphis) has been a good venue for injury victims.  This year, Davidson County (Nashville) had a slightly higher average verdict but that was caused by one case which resulted in the largest verdict in the entire State for the year (the verdict was in excess of $13 million). However,  the average Shelby County verdict was substantially higher than Knox County (Knoxville) or Hamilton County (Chattanooga).  

The jurisdiction in which your injury case will be venued is one of a myriad of factors used to assess the value of your case.  At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning lawyers represent people across the State of Tennessee and we carefully watch the verdicts and trial statistics for each county.  If you have a question about your jurisdiction or would like to discuss your injury case, call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this form for a no-fee, no-obligation consultation.   

Today, we are looking at trial and verdict information for Chattanooga/Hamilton County, which is the Eleventh Judicial District.  The Administrative Office of the Courts’ report reveals 711 tort lawsuits (claims for personal injury or wrongful death) were filed in Chattanooga during the last fiscal year and Chattanooga courts disposed of 693 tort cases.  During the last year, 37 cases went to trial in Chattanooga with 21 jury trials and 16 bench or judge trials.   Of the 37 cases went that actually went to trial, only 10 resulted in the injured party receiving any money.  So in more than 2/3 of the trials, the injured party received nothing.  

And in the cases the injured party actually won, the verdict news is similarly bleak.  Not a single case resulted in a verdict of $100,000.00 or more.  The total dollars awarded for all ten cases was $303,648.00 so the average award in each case was $30.365.00.  Of course, we do not know the facts of each one of those cases but we do know this: there is a reason they call it a trial.  It is hard, emotionally-draining and exhausting for the parties and their attorneys.  And most injured people who go through a trial expect their recovery to be more than that, and it should be if they have serious injuries. 

We really can not emphasize enough how important it is for you to select an experienced and well-qualified lawyer.  Of course, we hope you hire us and we believe our awards and client testimonials speak for themselves.  But even if you do not hire us, use this information sheet to help you find a skilled lawyer who can help maximize your recovery.  If you would like to schedule a free and no-obligation consultation, simply fill out this form or call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.  We handle all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.

This week, we are examining trial and case statistics from the Administrative Office of the Court’s yearly report, Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013.  Today, we take a closer look at Knoxville.  

Last year, 938 tort lawsuits (claims for personal injury or wrongful death) were filed in Knox County.  38 cases went to trial — 23 of them were jury trials and 15 were judge or bench trials.  Of the 38 case that went to trial, the injured party recovered money in less than half of those trials (18 of  38).  

Of the 18 cases that actually went to trial and resulted in a verdict for the injured or deceased party, 14 of those cases had an award in the range of $0 to $99,999.99.  Three cases had verdicts in the range of $100,000.00 to $999,999.99 and only one case had a verdict in excess of $1,000,000.00.   The average award for verdicts in Knox County, Tennessee was $149,205.00, a number driven significantly upward by the one verdict that was in excess of $1,000,000.

Of course, the value of any case is dependent on many factors,  including the underlying facts of the accident, the nature and severity of the injuries, the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit must be filed, etc.  But, another important factor is the skill of the lawyer handling the case. At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning lawyers are experienced in handling all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases.  We invite you to review the testimonials of our satisfied clients and then contact us online or call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your injury case. 

Last week, we told you that the Administrative Office of the Courts had published the Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013. The report provides information on the number of tort filings (lawsuits alleging personal injury or wrongful death), the number of trials and verdict information.  

Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee are in the Twentieth Judicial District. For the year ending June 30, 2013, 1,571 tort cases were filed in the Twentieth Judicial District and 1,441 tort cases were disposed of by either trial, motion, dismissal, etc. Only 66 cases went to trial in Davidson County – 35 were jury trials and 31 were bench or judge trials. Of the 66 cases that went to trial, 43 resulted in a verdict for the injured party. Here is the breakdown of the awards:

·        The vast majority of the cases (34 of them) resulted in verdicts that were less than $100,000.00. 

·        Seven of the cases had verdicts of less than $1,000,000.00 .

·        Two of the cases had verdicts which exceeded $1,000,000.00.

·        While the average verdict was $325,250.00, the average was greatly inflated by one particular verdict in the amount of $13,623,000.00, which happened to be the largest verdict in the State of Tennessee last year. 

Before anyone starts declaring a $13 million dollar verdict excessive, let me tell you the facts of the case. It was a medical malpractice case alleging negligence in the labor and delivery of a baby. Because of the medical malpractice, the baby was born permanently brain damaged and will need ongoing medical care for the rest of his life. In addition, he was permanently impaired from having any sort of normal family, social, recreational or wage-earning activities. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in Nashville and would like to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning attorneys to confidentially discuss your case, get your questions answered and have your legal rights explained to you in clear terms, contact us by calling 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this online form.

 

The Administrative Office of the Courts has released the Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013.  The report provides detailed information on each judicial district in the state. For instance, the report indicates the number of tort cases (claims for personal injury or wrongful death) filed in each district. It also provides information on how quickly cases are being disposed of in each district, the number of jury trials, the number of bench or judge trials, the average jury award, etc.  

At the Law Offices of John Day, we carefully review this report looking for trends in tort cases or in a particular judicial district. Over the next few days, we will be posting summaries from the report about the big four: Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville. And over the next few weeks, we will be updating our website to reflect the new data for individual judicial districts. 

But for today, here are the statewide numbers for the fiscal year 2012-2013:

·        385 medical malpractice cases were filed in the entire State of Tennessee. Let’s put that number in context for a minute. A 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimated 400,000 Americans will die each year due to medical errors. As for injuries, there are another approximately 15 million patients harmed each year according to The Institute for Healthcare Improvement. With that background, it would be a stretch to say that 385 medical malpractice filings (remember, these are not wins) is an epidemic. To the contrary, of the 370 medical malpractice cases only 24 went to trial and the average award was $349,354.38. 

·        9,868 tort cases were filed and 9,767 tort cases were disposed of during the fiscal year. The average award was $63,076. There were 17 cases with awards between $500,000 and $1,000,000. And, there were 16 cases with awards over $1,000,000. But there were not any cases with awards over $10,000,000.

These statistics emphasize the need to hire an experienced lawyer to help you and your family with your personal injury or wrongful death case.   If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your case, simply fill out this online form or call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation.  

A new law in Tennessee limits the amount of damages that can be awarded in a Tennessee wrongful death case.  

Under the new law, the family of a person who has died as a result of the negligent conduct of another person or company is limited to recovery of the following types of damages"

  1. Medical bills caused by the negligence.
  2. Funeral Bills.
  3. Lost earning capacity from the time of injury to death.
  4. Future lost earning capacity reduced by future personal maintenance expense.

There is no limit on the amount of money that can be awarded for these types of  losses.  The actual amount of money that can be recovered will depend on the evidence of the amount of loss for each one of these elements of loss.

In addition, the law permits the recovery of damages for pre-death pain and suffering caused by the negligence, as well as damages for the loss of a spouse and father.  If the decedent is an unmarried child, the parents may seek damages for the loss of a child.  If the decedent is an unmarried, childless  sibling, damages may be sought by the decedent’s siblings for the loss of a brother or sister.

The amount of these later losses ("intangible losses"  or "non-economic losses") is limited to $750,000, except under certain limited circumstances.  For instance, if the decedent left behind minor children, the damage cap increases to $1,000,000.  There are a few other exceptions as well.

The fact that intangible damages are limited to $750,000 (or,in some instances, $1,000,000) does not mean that your case is automatically worth at least that amount.  First, it is necessary to prove that someone negligently caused the death. Second, it is necessary to prove the amount of damages actually lost / suffered.  The damage cap on intangible losses sets a cap, not a floor, on the amount of damages.  

The Tennessee  law on wrongful death cases has changed dramatically in the past few years, and it is essential that you work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer who stays current with the law in this area.   Feel free to contact us for a free consultation about your case.  You may reach us via our toll-free number (866-812-8787 or our Contact Form. 

 

Tennessee law permits the recovery of funeral and burial expenses as part of the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The case law is unclear about whether there is any limit on the amount of funeral and burial expenses that may be recoverable.  Presumably, the law permits only the recovery of a "reasonable" amount of such expenses, but there is no fixed dollar amount or any other guidance on this issue.

Therefore, evidence of the amount of funeral and burial expenses incurred must be gathered and presented as part an effort to settle a wrongful death case.   Appropriate evidence must also be introduced at trial in the event the case cannot be settled.