Tennessee personal injury lawyers know that the Tennessee General Assembly is a far different place than it used to be. The Legislature is determined to change the rules of tort litigation for the benefit of defendants and those who would be defendants.
What follows is a second list of legislation enacted during the 2012 session that has been signed by the Governor and is available on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website. I previously wrote a post about 2012 legislation of interest to Tennessee personal injury lawyers that was available on May 4.
- Public Chapter 884: purports to wipe out the liability of car dealerships for loaning cars to certain customers who have proof of insurance.
- Public Chapter 902: addresses when punitive damages may be awarded in Tennessee
- Public Chapter 907: prohibits children as passengers on motorcycles unless their legs can reach the foot-pegs.
- Public Chapter 913: creates a rebuttable presumption that those who sign insurance policy application have read it and that when premium is paid all policyholders accept coverage as stated in policy or amendments thereto.
- Public Chapter 922: sets forth duty of landowners to those who are determined to be "trespassers".
- Public Chapter 926: sets up statutory scheme to permit defense counsel in health care liability actions to have ex parte communications with plaintiff’s health care providers.
- Public Chapter 998: authorizes clerks of court to set up electronic filing system and charge filing fees.
- Public Chapter 1046: sets up a statutory scheme requiring courts to make loser of Rule 12 motions pay opposing party’s fees and costs under certain circumstances.
- Public Chapter 1108: requires police officers determine whether physical barriers are present at the scene of an accident.
The increased efforts by the Legislature to codify tort law will mean that tort lawyers will be looking to statutory law to determine whether there are limits imposed on the common law or new defenses. This is a pretty significant change for lawyers – historically, most tort law was common law.