Articles Posted in Tennessee

In medical malpractice cases, form triumphs over substance way too often. Tennessee has been largely immune from this problem because, for years, Tennessee malpractice law did not require plaintiffs’ lawyers to jump through the hoops required by many states. Now, Tennessee has added a certificate of merit requirement and other technical obligations to filing a medical malpractice case.

tennessee medical malpracticeYou know, I’m fine with these requirements. What I don’t like is when potentially worthy plaintiffs are denied justice permanently because their lawyers screw up the details.

This is what happened in Williams v. Mountain States Health Alliance. In Williams, a 68-year-old female patient was undergoing myocardial perfusion imaging (a nuclear stress test) when she fell off the table to which she had been strapped. During the procedure, the patient made a sudden movement, broke free of the table straps, and fell onto the floor hitting her right side. Prior to the fall, the patient had suffered a stroke and paralysis to the right side of her body. Additionally, she was morbidly obese. The technicians who strapped the patient to the table allegedly knew (or should have known) this.

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John Day reports on how Tennessee’s new malpractice lawsuit reform rules have impacted the number of filings of claims.

I don’t have a big problem with Tennessee’s certificate of merit rules which I think help limit the number of malpractice lawsuits that should never have been filed. I have a big problem with caps on noneconomic damages.

A medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of a Florida veteran will begin this week against the Miami Veterans’ Administration hospital. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims he contracted hepatitis C from an unclean medical device used in a 2007 colonoscopy. This may be the bellwether trial on this issue: there are a dozen similar lawsuits that have been filed in Florida and more have been filed in Tennessee. (Certainly, Tennessee – even with their new malpractice restrictions – is a more hospitable place than Florida for medical malpractice lawsuits.)

I saw a warning sign this weekend on the Chesapeake Bay for stingrays. I wasn’t afraid of stingrays. At all. Until I saw the warning sign. My kids didn’t get into the Bay, although we probably would have.

So I read with interest a lawsuit filed last week against the Tennessee Aquarium after a boy got a bacterial infection from petting stingrays last year. The infection caused the boy an 11 day hospital stay. I think the boy is okay, but an 11 day hospital stay is tough for any child (I don’t know how old the child is).

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tennessee verdictsAs reported in the Tennessean today, Tennessee juries last year awarded a grand total of $92 million, according to the 2009-10 Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary. The average jury verdict was $400,359 last year.

Apparently, this is in civil jury cases altogether. It would have been helpful to breakup Tennessee personal injury cases so we don’t lump injury cases in with contract disputes. Jury Verdict Research would suggest that the median personal injury verdict in Tennessee is under $18,000. The median is a lot less sexy number but it is far more telling of the actual picture.

tennessee jury verdictAccording to Jury Verdict Research, the average personal injury jury verdict in Tennessee is $273,821. Using the median verdict, which deflates the impact of large verdicts, the number falls to $17,536.

John Day provides some additional data about Tennessee car accident verdicts. The Tennessee Jury Verdict Reporter, he reports, looked at 130 car accident lawsuits that went to trial in Tennessee. The average plaintiff’s verdict was $60,552 in the 93 (71%) lawsuits in which the plaintiff prevailed. Factoring in the losses, the average verdict was $43,318.

Average verdict statistics are interesting but, in the end, the axiom that every case is different really does ring true. Average statistics are just that, averages. If you want more information on the value of your case, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online case evaluation.

John Day writes a blog post on the new Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuit notice requirement and the new certificate of merit requirement.

I’m not sure of the thinking why you have to give a doctor notice before you file a malpractice lawsuit, although that has always been the law in Tennessee. As to the certificate of merit change, I also can’t see the wisdom in requiring the certificate of merit to be filed with the lawsuit. Maybe there is a reason beyond just making life more difficult for the malpractice lawyer, but I can’t see what it is.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holser, a Pennsylvania native, will become Tennessee’s first female Supreme Court Chief Judge on September 2, 2008. Justice Holser career on the bench began in 1990 when she was elected to the Circuit Court Judge of Tennessee’s Division II, Thirtieth Judicial District.

Medical malpractice lawyers in Tennessee will, as of October 1, 2008, need to get a medical expert to certify that the doctor committed medical malpractice to a reasonable degree of medical probability.

I cannot imagine why Tennessee medical malpractice lawyers would mind this new rule. Good malpractice lawyers get a doctor on board from the beginning, anyway. This rule does what it claims to do: eliminate – albeit a small number – of medical malpractice claims without merit.

Interestingly, Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, who sponsored the legislation, claims that four out of five malpractice suits in Tennessee are frivolous. This claim is frivolous and defies any understanding of the economic realities facing medical malpractice lawyers in Tennessee or anywhere in the country and any meaningful study conducted on the subject.

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