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The Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld a jury award of $3.25 million in favor of a woman shot in a parking lot where she worked. The lawsuit was against Owner-Operator Services, Inc., where the victim was working as a truck insurance agent support specialist. One evening, she was shot by her ex-partner in the company’s parking lot.

She filed a lawsuit against the company alleging negligence in failing to protect her. At trial, she introduced evidence that she was having problems with her ex-partner, such as stalking and sexual assault, and the company’s director of human resources knew about it. The victim told the director that the partner was leaving her harassing voicemails and that she felt fearful about him. The lawsuit alleged that although the company had security cameras and police patrols available, it did not take necessary measures to ensure the victim’s protection. After considering the evidence, the jury awarded her $3.25 million in damages.

Under Missouri law, a business owner generally has no duty to protect business invitees from criminal acts of unknown third parties because they are rarely foreseeable. However, there are a few exceptions. The first is when a person, known to be violent, is on the premises. Another exception is when a person is on the premises and “has conducted himself so as to indicate danger and sufficient time exists to prevent the injury.” The next exception states a business owner has a duty to protect invitees from criminal attacks of others under “special circumstances,” which means when it is foreseeable that certain actions or omissions will cause harm or injury to the invitee.

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A federal court jury recently handed down one of the largest verdicts in Ohio history in a medical malpractice case. The $14.5 million verdict was awarded to Nicole Welker and Justin Brinkley against Clearfield Hospital and Dr. Thomas A. Carnevale. Evidence was introduced at trial to show that the doctor, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at the hospital, improperly administered Pitocin to the mother to augment her labor while she was giving birth to her son, Justinian.

Pitocin is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract, thus inducing labor. It is often administered by doctors. Side effects of Pitocin are relatively mild for the mother but can be fatal for the fetus. Unfortunately, when Welker was administered Pitocin, the drug caused her contractions to increase in frequency and intensity. As a result of these increased contractions, Justinian’s oxygen was cut off. Tragically, Justinian was born with cerebral palsy and catastrophic cognitive disabilities.

Following the two-week trial, the jury deliberated on a number of key facts, including evidence showing that the doctor and the hospital had knowledge that the fetus was showing signs of distress during labor but took no actions to alleviate the problem. Ultimately, the jury assessed 60% liability for this incident against the doctor and the remaining 40% against the hospital.

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downtown-drive-5-1574071Simply put, guardrails are supposed to protect cars, drivers, and passengers. At the very least, they can prevent a bad situation, such as a car or truck wreck, from turning even worse. On highways and interstates, they can prevent cars from running off the road, falling down an embankment, or veering into oncoming traffic. When not functioning properly, bad things can happen. Drivers in many states have been having serious problems with guardrails recently, and at least seven people have died as a result of deadly guardrails in Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri.

One such incident occurred near Knoxville, Tennessee, when a 17-year-old girl was killed in a car accident caused by a defective guardrail. The driver veered off the road, drove into the median, and hit the end of a guardrail. While the guardrail was supposed to help absorb the impact with the vehicle, the end actually pierced through the vehicle, hitting the driver in the head.

The type of guardrail in question is X-LITE, which is manufactured by Lindsay Transportation Solutions. There are currently 1,700 of them on Tennessee roads, interstates, and highways. TDOT conducted its own investigation into this type of guardrail and found that they did not always work when cars hit them traveling at speeds 62 mph or higher. Usually, 62 mph is the standard crash test speed for guardrail ends. TDOT also found issues with the installation instructions, which, according to TDOT, “could result in the terminal performing differently from the original tested conditions.” Right now, Tennessee is accepting bids to replace all of these guardrails. Once complete, the final cost could end up being $3.5 million or more.

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For years, the medical community has been aware of the hazardous effects that a concussion can have on an individual. Though most popularly known as studied in the context of sports, researchers are making new life changing discoveries on concussions every day. An example of this can be seen with the NFL’s Concussion Protocol. In the past, head injuries were taken very casually, and players were told to shake them off and get back in the game as quickly as possible. Now, however, football players are required to pass special concussion protocol testing before they can return to the field. So if concussions are treated with such caution in the world of sports, why isn’t the same true for everyday life?

Concussions are a category of traumatic brain injury brought on when the brain crashes into the skull, usually as the result of a blow to the head or body. This blow could come in a car accident, especially if a victim’s head is jerked around after the impact. Symptoms of a concussion may appear right away or may take weeks to manifest, and they include headaches, memory loss, dizziness, and nausea. Concussions are generally graded into three categories, with the most severe being labeled Grade 3 and the most mild as Grade 1.

A new study shows that concussions may have lasting effects on an individual’s ability to drive, even after symptoms seem to disappear. The study followed 14 young adults who were 48 hours removed from symptoms following a concussion. The participants were placed in a driving simulation where researchers monitored their driving ability. Shockingly, the participants displayed clear signs of impaired driving, despite presenting no obvious symptoms of their concussion.

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man-talking-on-the-cell-phone-1541703Distracted driving can be just as bad as reckless driving. When your attention is on your phone or another device, you are not able to pay proper attention to the road. Sen. Jim Tracy from Shelbyville, Tennessee, recognizes the obvious danger of cell phone use while driving. This is why, for the second straight year, Sen. Tracy is sponsoring a bill that would effectively ban cell phone use while operating a vehicle in Tennessee.

The proposed legislation, SB0954, would create a Class C misdemeanor for driving a motor vehicle and talking on a hand-held cell phone. The bill would also attach a penalty for minors who are found guilty of the proposed infraction. Violators can also expect to pay a fine.

The bill comes in the wake of startling evidence that shows that distracted driving crashes in Tennessee have more than doubled since 2006. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security:

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hotelroom-1255076Hotels, just like any form of private property, owe a duty to the public to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner. This can include taking necessary measures to prevent foreseeable criminal attacks on guests. Hotels are meant to be a safe home away from home. The last thing you expect when staying in a hotel is to be the victim of a horrific crime, including assault or rape.

Sadly, that is precisely what happened to a Southern California woman who was staying at a Holiday Inn in Frazier Park, California. One night, she was sexually assaulted in her hotel room. She later sued the hotel for inadequate security measures, claiming that the hotel was negligent and did not properly provide for her safety. According to the lawsuit, the woman was sexually assaulted after a hotel employee negligently gave her room keys to a sexual predator. According to reports, the woman was staying at the Holiday Inn with her boyfriend, who was not in the room at the time of the crime. Video surveillance shows the attacker, later identified as Jonathan Padilla, speaking with the hotel receptionist at the front desk. Padilla is accused of being heavily intoxicated and under the influence of drugs.

The lawsuit further alleges that Padilla offered the receptionist $100 in exchange for sexual favors but was turned down. Footage shows Padilla leaving the front desk, only to return moments later requesting keys to his room. In reality, the keys Padilla requested were for the victim’s room. Not only did the receptionist fail to verify the occupants of the room, she failed to even ask Padilla his name. Instead, the keys were turned over and the perpetrator was allowed to permanently traumatize an innocent woman. He was later convicted of the crime in criminal court and sentenced to three years in jail.

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truck-delivery-1237583Imagine the following scenario: you are in your car, driving to your favorite restaurant for a mid-week lunch treat. You pull up to the restaurant, which is located in a particularly busy strip mall in a popular area of town. While navigating the parking lot to look for a parking spot, you are suddenly rear-ended by the car behind you. After getting over the initial shock of the crash, you and the driver who hit you pull over to discuss what happened, exchange information, and call the police so that an incident report can be made.

The driver of the vehicle that hit you apologizes for hitting you; however, the driver also expresses frustration that he got into an accident while “on the clock” as this will make him late for his “work assignment.” You find out that he is a delivery driver for the restaurant you were heading to.

After the other driver has finished speaking with the police, the driver hops back behind the wheel and drives off. The police officer tells you the other driver has auto insurance and you rest assured that you should not have to file a claim with your own auto insurance carrier. However, once you contact the other driver’s auto insurance company, you find out that, unfortunately, his personal policy had lapsed prior to their accident with you. Frustrated and searching for a solution, you wonder if the restaurant should be responsible for your damages, which may include medical bills and time off from work.

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Generally speaking, doctors and other healthcare providers have a special duty to operate in accordance with the accepted practices and procedures of the medical community within which they practice when treating patients. In the legal realm, this duty is commonly referred to as the standard of care. Doctors and other medical professionals are charged with such a duty because they are trusted with the lives and well-being of their patients and clients. If it is proven that a doctor or medical professional has strayed from the duty of care, and as a result has caused harm to a patient, the doctor and/or company who employs the doctor can be held responsible for damages caused by the medical malpractice. Medical facilities such as hospitals may also be held responsible by a jury.

Recently, a Judge in Cook County, Illinois, upheld a $52 million medical malpractice verdict against the University of Chicago Medical Center. The lawsuit was initiated by a woman who alleged that the carelessness of the facility caused her baby to be born with cerebral palsy and a severe seizure disorder. The lawsuit cited nearly 20 mishaps against the medical center, including failure to carefully monitor the mother and child, ignoring warning signs of fetal distress, and failure to timely perform a C-section. As a result, the child failed to receive oxygen to the brain. The large jury verdict comes after nearly 12 years, and it highlights the complexities associated with medical malpractice and birth injury cases.

In medical malpractice cases, the standard of care can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This may seem odd, that there is not one universal standard for practicing healthcare providers across the United States. The rationale behind the variation is the thought that different doctors may have methods for treating or diagnosing patients based on accepted standards within the communities in which they practice. For example, a doctor in Tennessee may have a different approach to diagnosing an illness than a doctor in California.

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At some point in your life, you will inevitably encounter an intoxicated individual while you are out on the town.  Whether you are out running a simple errand to the grocery store or going out to happy hour after work, there is always a chance that you will come across an intoxicated individual that could potentially put you or your loved ones in danger.  With that in mind, the Tennessee Supreme Court, in Cullum v. McCool, made it very clear that if an intoxicated person is on a company’s property and poses a potential risk to the company’s patrons, then that company owes a duty to protect its patrons from foreseeable harm.

In Cullum, an intoxicated individual entered a Walmart store in Red Bank, Tennessee to get her prescriptions filled. Walmart employees, noticing the individual’s drunken state, refused to fill her prescriptions.  Once refused, the individual became belligerent, causing the pharmacy employees to order the individual out of the store.

This individual was a common patron at the Red Bank Walmart, and she had even entered the pharmacy on several occasions in an intoxicated state.  When they ordered her to leave, pharmacy employees knew she was alone and would be operating a motor vehicle to leave the Walmart parking lot.  However, the employees did not call the police, notify security, or take any further actions to ensure the safety of the other people in the store and store parking lot.

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high-work-2-1231176Each year, workers’ compensation claims end up costing employers and their insurance companies tens of billions of dollars, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance’s Workplace Safety Index. Workplace accidents and injuries that caused employees to miss six or more days of work cost private employers nearly $60 billion in 2014. OSHA has also estimated that employers pay approximately $1 billion per week for workers’ compensation costs.

Workplace injuries cost employers billions annually in the form of workers’ compensation. These benefits include payment for medical bills, wages, and permanent impairment. In many states, including Tennessee, employers who regularly employ five or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, subject to narrow exceptions in the law.

A workers’ compensation claim is distinguishable from a typical personal injury claim primarily because the injured worker does not always need to prove negligence on part of the employer in order to recover. This is why workers’ compensation is frequently referred to as a “no-fault” system. That being said, it is beneficial to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help navigate this unique field of law that is constantly evolving. For instance, workers’ compensation law in Tennessee drastically changed in 2014 when new legislation was enacted.

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