Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Cases

The Tennessee General Assembly has modified Tenn. Code Ann. Section 20-1-119 to make it clear that the plaintiff gets the benefits of the statute even if the fault allegations against a nonparty are made by a uninsured/underinsured motorist insurer.  The new legislation, Public Chapter No. 294, states as follows:

Section 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 20-1-119(a), is amended by

redesignating the current language as subdivision (a)(1) and adding the following new

Where plaintiff and defendant presented contradicting credible evidence regarding whether all of plaintiff’s claimed injuries were caused by the car accident at issue, the trial court’s denial of plaintiff’s motion for new trial based on her assertion that the jury’s award did not adequately compensate her for her injuries was affirmed.

In Besses v. Killian, No. M2021-01121-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 27, 2023), plaintiff and defendant were involved in a car accident when they approached traffic on the interstate that had slowed significantly and defendant rear-ended plaintiff’s car. Both plaintiff and defendant were able to move their cars to the side of the road after the accident, and both drove their cars away and declined medical treatment after the police took a report.

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that she sustained injuries including “a bruised right knee, a neck strain, a lower back strain, a concussion, and chronic headaches, including migraines.” Plaintiff sought damages for past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Defendant admitted fault but challenged the damages claimed by plaintiff, asserting that some of the medical expenses and injuries were not caused by the accident. After a two-day jury trial, the jury awarded plaintiff $16,720, which included $12,270 for medical expenses, $3,000 for past pain and suffering, $1,00 for past loss of enjoyment of life, and no award for future pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. Plaintiff filed a motion for new trial, arguing that the jury’s award “did not adequately compensate her for her injuries and was inconsistent with the evidence offered at trial,” but the trial court denied the motion and confirmed the jury verdict. On appeal, this ruling was affirmed.

Continue reading

Where the trial court found plaintiff 25% at fault and defendant 75% at fault in a negligence case related to a crash between a car and tractor trailer, the Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict for plaintiff.

In Kindred v. Townsend, No. W2021-01481-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App Dec. 7, 2022), plaintiff filed this negligence suit against defendant and defendant’s employer based on a motor vehicle accident. Defendant was driving a tractor trailer while employed by defendant employer, and she turned left at an intersection. There was contradictory testimony regarding whether the traffic light was giving a green turn signal, a yellow turn signal, or a permissive green light when defendant began her turn. Plaintiff was approaching from the opposite direction and was not yet to the intersection when the light for her lane turned green. She proceeded through the light without slowing down, and her car and defendant’s tractor trailer collided.

Continue reading

Where defendant driver stated that the accident that injured plaintiff passenger was due to her swerving to avoid a wild animal that unexpectedly entered the roadway, and plaintiff “presented no evidence of negligence on the part of the defendant,” summary judgment for defendant was affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

In Owings v. Owings, No. E2021-01330-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 3570880 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 19, 2022), plaintiff was a passenger while defendant was driving. According to defendant, she swerved to avoid hitting a deer that jumped out in front of her, causing her to hit two or three parked vehicles. Defendant was allegedly injured during the accident and filed this negligence suit.

During plaintiff’s deposition, he stated that defendant had “done what she had to do” and “acknowledged that he did not think she had done anything wrong.” Plaintiff also stated that defendant had told him that “something jumped out in front of her,” but that he did not see the animal.

Continue reading

Where defendant was driving a truck that had a blowout on the interstate, defendant did not have a duty to remove the tire debris from the road.

In Walker v. McMillin, No. M2020-01507-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 420666 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 11, 2022), plaintiff was injured in a one-car accident caused by tire debris on the interstate. The tire debris came from a blowout on defendant’s truck, which occurred around 5-7 minutes before the accident. After the blowout, defendant slowed and pulled onto the shoulder of the road about half a mile away from the debris. Defendant set out triangle warnings around his truck and called a tire service provider and his employer.

Plaintiff filed this negligence suit against defendant truck driver and his employer one month after the accident. Plaintiff sent defendants an evidence preservation notice, which included a request that defendants preserve the tires that were on the truck, but the old tires were not preserved.

Continue reading

Where there was material evidence to support the jury’s verdict of more than $1.5 million in a car accident case, the verdict was affirmed.

In Malone v. ASF Intermodal LLC, No. W2020-00430-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 353697 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 7, 2022), plaintiff was in a car accident caused by an employee of defendant, and defendant had admitted fault. The only issue in this personal injury case was damages. The evidence at trial showed that plaintiff drove himself home from the accident, but that he developed leg and back pain soon thereafter. Plaintiff and his experts also testified that plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident. Defendant’s experts disputed that plaintiff’s pain was caused by the accident, pointing out that plaintiff had begun treatment for a chronic leg condition in his other leg seven years before the accident. While plaintiffs’ experts opined that his pain was caused by the accident, defendants’ experts testified that the chronic condition was the likely cause.

Continue reading

Where security camera footage showed that plaintiff pulled onto the road when defendant’s approaching vehicle was clearly visible, plaintiff was at least 50% at fault for the resulting car accident, despite the fact that defendant was going at least twenty miles per hour over the speed limit.

In Cryer v. City of Algood, Tennessee, No. M2020-01063-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 150854 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 18, 2022), plaintiff was driving his vehicle with his wife in the passenger seat. When he pulled onto the road, attempting to cross two lanes of traffic and a turning lane, his vehicle was struck by a police cruiser driven by Officer Ferguson, who was employed by defendant city.

Plaintiff filed this negligence suit and defendant counterclaimed, also raising the defense of comparative fault. During a bench trial, the evidence showed that the police cruiser was in the left lane and had just passed a black car that was traveling in the right lane. Security camera video showed, however, that at the time plaintiff began pulling out, the cruiser was visible on the straight road. Evidence also showed that the cruiser was traveling at least 60 miles per hour while the speed limit was 40 miles per hour, and that the officer did not brake until a short time before impact. Plaintiff’s wife testified that she was talking to plaintiff when he pulled onto the road, and that shortly before this she had told him to put on his seatbelt.

Continue reading

Where plaintiff and defendant offered conflicting testimony regarding what caused a car accident, and the jury credited defendant’s testimony and found defendant not at fault, the verdict was affirmed. In Justice v. Hyatt, No. M2019-02105-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. June 30, 2021), plaintiff was driving his truck with his friend in the passenger seat while looking at investment properties. While passing through a four-way stop in Pulaski, plaintiff’s truck and defendant’s SUV collided.

Plaintiff and defendant offered contradictory testimony regarding what caused the accident. Plaintiff stated that he stopped at the stop sign, looked both ways, and did not see defendant approaching. He said that when he was halfway through the intersection, defendant’s vehicle approached to his right, slowed down, then sped up and hit his truck. Plaintiff stated that after the accident, he went to check on defendant and she “freely admitted liability for the accident,” stating that she was distracted by looking at a nearby house. Plaintiff’s passenger corroborated this testimony.

Continue reading

Where plaintiff knew her husband was killed in a car accident with a firefighter but did not know all the details regarding how the accident occurred, the one-year statute of limitations began to run on the day of the crash and her GTLA suit that was filed more than one year after the accident was untimely.

In Durham v. Estate of Losleben, No. W2019-01623-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 8, 2020), the plaintiff’s husband was killed when his vehicle collided with one being driven by a firefighter. One year and 21 days after the accident, the plaintiff filed this case under Tennessee’s Governmental Tort Liability Act against the county that employed the firefighter, the fire department, and the estate of the firefighter, who was also killed in the accident.

Defendants moved to dismiss based on the statute of limitations. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the GTLA claim against the governmental entities was time-barred and that the estate was immune under the GTLA. The Court of Appeals affirmed this ruling.

Continue reading

When a plaintiff takes a voluntary nonsuit in a case asserting vicarious liability against an employer for its employee’s negligence, that plaintiff can re-file pursuant to the savings statute, even if the employee was voluntarily dismissed from the first case.

In Helyukh v. Buddy Head Livestock & Trucking, Inc., No. M2019-02301-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 28, 2020), plaintiff was a long-distance truck driver who was injured when he collided with a tractor-trailer that was overturned on the interstate and had been driven by Michael Heller, an employee of defendant. Plaintiff initially sued both Heller and defendant within the one-year statute of limitations, making direct negligence claims against Heller and claims of vicarious liability against defendant. Plaintiff eventually voluntarily dismissed Heller from the case, and the trial court then granted summary judgment to defendant. On appeal, however, summary judgment was reversed, and shortly after remand, plaintiff nonsuited his claim against defendant.

Continue reading

Contact Information