Articles Posted in In The News

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Car-Crash-Cell-Phone-PhotoLike all states, the Volunteer State sees its fair share of motor vehicle accidents. Accidents can cause one’s life to flip upside down in the blink of an eye. While some victims are fortunate in that the wreck causes little to no damage to anyone’s vehicle or property, others are not nearly as lucky. Catastrophic accidents can cause permanent injuries or even death. The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security works to protect Tennesseans and reduce motor vehicle crashes, which includes providing driver education and keeping track of statistics.

2017 Tennessee driving statistics were recently released, and they yielded interesting results. For starters, there were a total of 208,104 motor vehicle crashes statewide, with 50,174 deemed to have caused an injury. Of course, these would only include injuries reported at the scene, so this figure is likely much higher considering some motor vehicle accident related injuries can take hours, days, or longer to develop. The total accident figure is an increase from 2016, when 206,404 wrecks were reported. While accidents saw a slight increase from 2016 to 2017, these figures represent a stark increase from 2008, when 159,214 accidents were reported.

In 2017, fatal car accidents slightly increased from 2016, going from 1,037 to 1,040. July was the deadliest month, with 120 fatal crashes. This can likely be attributed to the 4th of July, a holiday that typically sees a higher rate of drunk driving. 83 of the fatal crashes in 2017 involved teen drivers, compared to 103 in 2016. While teen driving fatalities decreased, the opposite occurred to seniors aged 65 and older. In 2017, 250 seniors were involved in deadly accidents, compared to 231 in 2016. Pedestrian fatalities also increased from 2016, going from 110 to 134.

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On March 1, 2018, in Carpenter v. Southern Transit, the Tennessee’ Workers Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of NST’s client that had suffered an on the job injury. Following his injury, our client’s medical treatment recommended by his doctor was denied by multiple insurance carriers, leading to NST attorney Monica R. Rejaei filing for an expedited hearing on the issue, which was granted. The decision was appealed, with the insurance companies claiming our client’s injuries were not caused by his employment.

Under Tennessee workers’ compensation law, “injury” is defined to mean “an injury arising out of and in the course of employment that causes either disablement or death of the employee and shall include occupational diseases arising out of and in the course of employment that cause either disablement or death of the employee.” To determine whether one’s condition constitutes an on the job “injury” compensable through workers’ compensation, relevant evidence can include the employee’s medical records and testimony of the treating physician.

Our client is a 66 year old resident of Memphis, Tennessee, employed as a truck driver for a logistics company. Occasionally, he would drive trucks belonging to another trucking company in the area when his primary truck was being serviced. In November 2016, while operating a truck belonging to the other company but within the course and scope of his employment, our client was transferring a trailer to another driver and bringing said driver’s trailer back to the hub. During this travel, the driver’s seat in the tractor was broken, continuously striking him in the lower back throughout his travel. He reported this injury to his supervisor that day. Just over one week later, as our client was stepping out of the truck belonging to the other company, he felt a sharp pain in his lower back that radiated down into his legs. This incident was once again reported to his supervisor.

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On March 1, 2018, Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz (NST Law) opened an office in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to better serve the growing client base throughout Southeast Missouri, which includes Cape Girardeau County (including Cape Girardeau and Scott City), Scott County (including Sikeston and Benton), Butler County (including Poplar Bluff), Stoddard County (including Dexter), Pemiscot County (including Hayti and Caruthersville), Dunklin County (including Malden and Kennett), St. Francois County (including Farmington and Bonne Terre), and surrounding areas. NST attorneys David W. Hill and Glenn K. Vines are licensed to practice law in Missouri, and attorneys Amanda Altman and Travis Bargeon will serve as Of-Counsel to the firm’s Cape Girardeau office.

Our Cape Girardeau office is located at:

210 N. Sprigg Street

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Officer-Writing-Ticket-SmallAccording to a recent report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the number of traffic citations issued to Hamilton County drivers decreased for the 5th year in a row in 2017. For example, in 2012, police officers in Chattanooga wrote 6,776 tickets for speeding and 1,653 tickets for seatbelt violations. In 2017, officers only wrote 2,119 speeding tickets and 378 seatbelt violation tickets. On a similar note, tickets for red light violations dropped from 668 to 280.

With tickets going down, that must mean more people are choosing to follow the rules of the road, right? Not so fast. The Chattanooga Police Department has provided several reasons why traffic citations are declining in the area. The first concerns officer discretion. A supervisor of the Chattanooga Police Department’s traffic division stated police officers have discretion when it comes to issuing tickets and citations. For example, if an officer pulls someone over for speeding, he or she can issue a verbal warning instead of writing a ticket. Since the police department wants to always encourage safe driving, some officers believe that having a conversation with the offender and providing a verbal warning can do more to prevent violations in the future than writing that person up with a citation.

Police attrition may also be linked to less tickets being issued. Losing officers has been a problem for many municipal police departments over the year, and the issue is no stranger to Chattanooga. According to the Chattanooga Police Department, between three and four police officers leave the department each month, on average, with some being transferred to new divisions and others leaving the force altogether.

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Sports Fans,

Be on the lookout for 2 of NST’s television commercials during the big College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs. The championship game between these SEC rivals takes place on Monday, January 8th at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Kick off starts at 7:00 pm Central time on ESPN. You don’t want to miss this game! Team NST and championship football…..a WINNING COMBINATION!!!

For a sneak peak, here are the commercials that will air during the telecast:

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Man-Car-at-Crosswalk-SmallNashville, Tennessee, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The 13-county Nashville metropolitan area is currently home to nearly 1.8 million people. According to data tracked by the U.S. Census, this area gained close to 31,000 people per year between 2010 and 2015. This annual growth rate of 1.8% is more than double the national growth rate of 0.8%. A surging population has contributed to an economic boom in Nashville and Davidson County, but it has also come at a cost. Pedestrian deaths are on the rise.

As of October 2017, 19 pedestrians have died in Nashville. In the entire year of 2016, just 16 pedestrians were killed. With Nashville roads being crowded, many people walk when possible to avoid such dense traffic. According to safety experts, pedestrians are most at risk during the winter months, in part because it gets dark much earlier. As a result, people are walking home when it has already become dark.

Is there anything that can be done to fix this problem? In Middle Tennessee, two organizations have decided to team up – Walk Bike Nashville and the Tennessee Highway Safety Office. Together, they have created a campaign called “Look For Me,” designed to raise awareness for pedestrians. According to Walk Bike Nashville, pedestrian fatalities are expected to reach 24 this year, nearly double from 2009, which saw 13 fatalities.

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Gavel-wScales-of-Justice-Medium-SmallIn a great victory for people injured in Tennessee, Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz lawyers Glenn Vines, Mark Geller, Kevin Graham, and Jason Yasinsky were able to ensure injured victims have the right to submit the full value of their medical expenses in their personal injury claim. This case, Dedmon v. Steelmon, was argued all the way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Plaintiff Jean Dedmon originally filed suit in the Circuit Court of Crockett County, Tennessee, for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. As part of the lawsuit, Dedmon attached her full medical bills for hospital treatment and doctor visits caused by the accident. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an opinion in another case, West v. Shelby County Healthcare Corporation. That case dealt primarily with hospitals that filed liens (pursuant to Tennessee’s Hospital Lien Act) for the full amount of treatment billed to the patient, regardless of whether they had health insurance. While health insurance companies often pay at discounted rates due to contractual agreements with providers, the Court ultimately decided that based on the language of the hospital lien law, the hospital’s lien is limited to the discounted amount paid by the patient’s health insurance company.

Counsel for Steelman took that holding and sought to apply the principle to all of Dedmon’s medical bills. The trial court agreed and ruled that Dedmon could not submit the full amount of her medical expenses to the jury; instead, she could only submit the amounts of the contractually-agreed payments that the providers accepted from her insurance company. NST Law, on behalf of Dedmon, appealed that decision. After both sides submitted legal briefs and argued their respective positions, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling, stating Dedmon could introduce her full bills but Steelman could introduce proof contradicting the reasonableness of those bills. Steelman moved to appeal this ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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Taxi-Service-on-Mobile-SmallThere is no doubt that ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have surged in popularity in recent years. Uber was founded in 2009, while Lyft came along in 2012. These companies serve a useful purpose – affordable transportation at the hands of your fingertips. Across the world, people use ridesharing companies to get from Point A to Point B. Ridesharing can satisfy all of one’s transportation needs – taking people to dinner, sporting events, and even to and from work each day.

When people open the Uber or Lyft app and select a ride, they trust they will be in good hands when they get inside the vehicle. After recent events, getting to a destination without an accident is no longer the top concern. Recent lawsuits have alleged Uber drivers sexually assaulted female passengers. In light of these reports, it is natural to consider whether ridesharing companies do enough to prevent these crimes in the first place, and whether they can face legal liability for their drivers’ actions.

Typically, employers are held responsible for acts of employees committed in the course and scope of employment. For instance, if you were rear-ended by an Uber driver who was transporting a passenger, Uber’s liability policy would likely pay for your losses. This legal principle of respondeat superior may not directly apply in the context of an assault. For starters, sexual assault is an intentional act, in contrast to a negligent act such as running a stop sign. Similarly, abusing a passenger does not fall within the course and scope of employment, which is to transport a passenger to their final destination. Further, Uber is notorious for classifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. While the employer’s determination is not determinative, additional factors must be considered.

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Train-Moving-on-Tracks-SmallA recent train crash in the Binghampton area of Memphis serves as a reminder to us all – be extremely careful when approaching train tracks. In the early hours of November 14, 2017, a train collided with a vehicle in Binghampton near Pershing Avenue and Scott Street. According to Memphis Police Department, the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene, the driver got caught between the railroad arms as she was crossing over the tracks. Fortunately, she had enough time to get out of her vehicle and out of harm’s way.

Unique Dangers Involving Trains

It takes much longer for a train to come to a stop than it does for cars and SUVs driven by private citizens. Below are interesting statistics to put all of this in context:

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Texting-and-Driving-SmallTexas is taking a unique approach to combat a systemic issue in America – distracted driving. Those applying for a new driver’s license must now take additional steps than people who have tried to get a license in years past. If you are 18 years old or older, you must now take a driving skills test and one hour course on distracted driving awareness. While 16 and 17-year-old drivers have had to take their own courses for distracted driving, this is a new requirement for adults 18 and older. At this time, the Texas Department of Public Safety is planning on introducing a distracted driving course geared towards adults who are 25 years old and older as well.

Distracted driving has always come with problematic side effects, and these have magnified in recent years. Many people blame progress in technology on the increase in distracted driving accidents across the United States today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 9 people are killed each day in an accident that involves at least one driver who was distracted at the time of the crash. Just as alarming, over 1,000 people get hurt each day in these types of crashes.

Why does technology lead to more distracted driving related car accidents? For starters, people of all ages have access to a variety of personal devices that can be used at any point in time. Devices like cell phones and tablets are always tempting to use. People think they can look down at their phone to check email, send a text message, or browse social media websites like Facebook, even for a split second, and be fine. However, studies show that taking your eyes off the road to send or read a text message for just five seconds is long enough for your car to drive across an entire football field going 55 mph.