Articles Tagged with Tennessee death lawyer

The Tennessee General Assembly passed several bills that became law effective July 1, 2010.  One of those is Public Chapter 752.   The legislation revises a deadline for a special definition of governmental entities in governmental tort liability cases against governmental entities in Shelby County.   The legislation was designed to protect The Med in Memphis from litigation.  The special definition was supposed to expire in 2011.  The deadline has been removed and the special definition will apply to all tort cases filed after July 1, 2003. 

Note:  the Tennessee Supreme Court has declared a portion of the earlier act unconstitutional to the extent that it applied to injuries occurring before July 1, 2003 but impact the rights of plaintiffs who filed after July 1, 2003.   The case is Estate of Bell v. Shelby County Health Care Corporation,  W2008-02213-SC-S09-CV  (Tenn. June 24, 2010).

When a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, Tennessee law permits only certain people to assert a claim to recover damages for the death. This article does not discuss who receives the damages awarded by settlement or judgment of the case, but only who has the right to file suit.


If the decedent was married, his or her spouse normally has the highest right to pursue the wrongful death claim. A court may deny the surviving spouse the right to bring a wrongful death claim only if the spouse is not legally competent (that is, has some sort of mental problem that would affect his or her ability to bring and pursue a lawsuit), has shown that he or she cannot be trusted to bring the claim (for example, the parties were in a bitter divorce fight at the time of the death), or some other factor (for example, the parties had not lived together for years at the time of the death but had never divorced).

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article about a California program that helps determine if physicians who have been disciplined can start practicing again.  The goal of PACE (Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program) is "

to evaluate the competence of troubled doctors whose infractions range from serious medical error and negligence to sloppy record keeping and anger management. Using a mix of computer-based simulations, multiple-choice exams, cognitive-function screenings and hands-on observation, PACE faculty and staff tests doctors’ knowledge, skills and judgment, providing remedial courses and a weeklong mini-residency supervised by UCSD medical faculty.

The article also states that

Tennessee’s nursing homes rank the 5th worst in the United States, according to an analysis done by the Tennessean.   

The February 3, 2010 article points out that 

[a]bout 15,000 nursing homes nationwide got ratings of one to five stars, with five being the best, from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The ratings are based on inspections, complaint investigations, staffing levels and other nursing home survey data collected in 2008 and 2009.

The Tennessee Medical Malpractice Claims Report for 2009 (which reports data for 2008) contains lots of information of interest to lawyers who represent Tennesseans in medical malpractice claims. Last week I wrote about the number of claims closed in 2008 and the amount paid on these claims. Today I will drill down a little deeper on one topic – resolution of claims involving death.

About 1960 Tennesseans die each year as a result of medical malpractice in a hospital.  (The number that die as a result of malpractice in a doctor’s office or nursing home or dentist’s office or elsewhere has not been estimated to my knowledge.)  Yet, in 2008, there were 538 medical malpractice claims resolved in cases where the allegation involved malpractice-related death of the patient  in all settings.  

The total amount of money paid to resolve the 538 death claims was $60,663,764, or an average of less than $120,000 per claim.  I hasten to add that gross payment figure includes claims on which no money was paid.  The report does not indicate how many closed death claims resulted in no payment whatsoever.  However, the report does indicate that payments were made in only 15% or so of all closed claims in 2008.  If that statistic is true in the wrongful death area, it means that payments were made in only about 80 wrongful death cases in 2008 and the average payment was about $750,000 per claim.

Contact Information