Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A woman was killed and three children who were riding in her car were seriously injured on March 22 after a man driving an SUV entered the West Virginia Turnpike going the wrong way in Raleigh County near the Ghent toll booth and collided with her vehicle head-on. According to a news report out of West Virginia, the driver of the SUV, a 43-year-old man from Orlando, Florida, exited the freeway near the toll station and re-entered the freeway going the wrong way in the southbound lanes.

After narrowly avoiding several other cars, he crashed head-on into the car being driven by the woman, who was killed in the accident. The driver of the SUV was also injured in the crash and hospitalized until March 24. After he was released from the hospital, the man was arrested and charged with second-degree-murder for his role in the woman’s death.

do-not-enter-sign-751630-mCivil and Criminal Liability for Auto Accidents

In addition to the very serious criminal charges that the driver of the SUV is now facing, his apparent recklessness may also subject him to significant civil liability to the families of those who were injured or killed in the crash. Even if the man is acquitted of the murder charge, a civil wrongful death lawsuit may still be filed against him by the victims’ families to help with the expenses and losses caused by the accident.

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A decision released by the Washington State Supreme Court in December 2014 helped clarify the requirements for a plaintiff to be allowed to amend a previously filed complaint in order to sue the proper defendant after the statute of limitations on his or her claim has expired. In Martin v. Dematic, Washington #89924-0 (2014), the state Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiff’s amended complaint against the defendant was not barred by the expiration of the statute of limitations because the original complaint (filed against the wrong defendant) was filed within the required time, and the amended complaint “related back” to the date of filing of the original complaint. Based on this ruling, the plaintiff’s claim will be heard by the court, and she may receive compensation for her tragic loss.

paper-4-828752-mThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s husband was killed in August 2004 by a machine at a paper plant. The widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against GCC, the corporate successor to the company that installed the machine, about two months before the three-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit had expired. In their answer, which was filed after the statute of limitations for the plaintiff’s filing of a claim had lapsed, the defendants alleged that they were not the parties that were responsible for liability relating to the paper machine that killed the decedent, and they were able to have the plaintiff’s claims against them dismissed.

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Last January, a young man with Down Syndrome was killed by police officers moonlighting as security guards in a Baltimore movie theater when he tried to sneak into a movie without a valid ticket. According to news reports released at the time, the police officers handcuffed the nearly 300-pound man, dragged him out of the movie theater on his stomach, and dropped him on the ground. At some point during the confrontation, the man entered cardiac arrest and died a short time later.

chair-theater-1107994-mAfter his death, the man’s parents brought suit against several defendants, including the individual officers as well as the owner of the theater, Regal Cinemas, a Tennessee corporation. The claims against the defendants were several, but they included mostly allegations of gross negligence, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and “failure to train” claims against the State of Tennessee.

According to a recent news article, the judge presiding over the case heard the plaintiffs’ claims in an early proceeding in order to determine which claims had merit and should proceed to trial. The judge determined that all claims against the movie theater should be dismissed, since the movie theater was justified in asking the security officers to remove a man who had entered the theater without a ticket.

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According to a report by NationSwell, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has a new tool at its disposal to help accident victims by arriving at the scene more quickly, therefore providing more immediate medical care to those who need it. The new program is called the CRASH program, short for “Crash Reduction Analyzing Statistical History.”

calculator-closeup-1376722-mEvidently, the program looks at historical data to predict when and where accidents will occur. The program takes into account all kinds of information that human beings would be incapable of assigning a value to, such as the presence of alcohol vendors in the area, weather patterns, sporting events, and so forth.

Through this predictive analysis, Tennessee Highway Patrol hopes to better utilize its existing resources by directing officers where CRASH indicates that an accident is likely.

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Earlier in May of this year, a fatal motorcycle accident near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina claimed the life of one motorcyclist. According to a report by the Citizen Times, the accident occurred on Interstate 40 near mile marker 5 in North Carolina around 9:30 in the morning. Evidently, the three-wheeled motorcycle collided with a car traveling in the same direction. Both vehicles were traveling east when the collision occurred. The passenger on the motorcycle suffered fatal injuries and the driver was taken to the hospital, but has since recovered. The driver of the car did not suffer any injuries.

motorbikes-4---high-rez-317132-mPolice are still investigating the cause of the accident and have not decided to press criminal charges against anyone involved as of yet. The district attorney’s office is also involved and will likely file charges once the investigation is complete and fault has been determined.

Determining Fault in Tennessee Motorcycle Accidents

In any motorcycle accident where one or more parties suffer personal injury or property damages, there is likely to be some kind of fault determination in order to decide who is responsible for the other party’s losses and injuries. In many cases, before the case between the people involved in the accident goes to trial, there is a criminal trial held to determine if either party is criminally responsible for the accident.

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Earlier this month, a 21-year-old Blountville woman pleaded guilty plea to several charges stemming from a 2012 accident she caused that took the life of a former Tennessee Highway Patrol officer. According to a report by TriCities.com, the woman was traveling on Route 75 when her vehicle crossed the center line for an unknown reason. Another driver traveling in the opposite direction swerved to avoid her vehicle and, as the woman corrected and entered back into her lane, the other driver collided head on with another vehicle.

perscription-drugs-2-1160103-mThe passenger in the car—a retired veteran of the Tennessee Highway Patrol—was killed in the crash. The driver also suffered minor injuries.

The woman’s blood was tested for the presence of drugs and alcohol and came back positive for a number of prescription drugs, including dihydrocodeinone, an opioid, and alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication. The amount in her blood was twice the prescribed amount. There was also a partially bunt marijuana cigarette found in the woman’s purse, along with 11 of the opioid pills and anti-anxiety pills. Continue reading

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