The Alaska Supreme Court recently rejected a plaintiff’s challenge to a jury’s verdict in a personal injury case that had denied the plaintiff relief and found the defendant was not operating his vehicle negligently when the accident occurred. The state high court ruled that the jury could have reasonably concluded that the accident was not the defendant’s fault and that he should not be held accountable for the injuries allegedly suffered by the plaintiff in the accident. Based on the latest appellate ruling, the plaintiff will most likely not be compensated for the injuries that she suffered in the crash.

Snowy RoadThe Defendant Slides on Ice and Crashes into the Plaintiff’s Vehicle at an Intersection

The plaintiff in the case of Marshall v. Peter was a woman who was struck from behind by the defendant’s vehicle while she was waiting to make a left-hand turn at an intersection. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the parties agreed that the road conditions were icy at the time of the accident, and the police officers who responded to the crash cited the defendant for causing the accident by making an improper start. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant after the accident, alleging that he negligently failed to account for the road conditions and maintain a safe following distance from the plaintiff, causing the accident and her subsequent injuries.

The Jury Finds that the Defendant Was Not Negligent

After trial on the plaintiff’s claim, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, finding that the defendant had operated his vehicle with due care considering the conditions at the time, and the accident was an unavoidable and minor result of uncontrollable conditions, rather than the defendant’s fault. In response to the verdict, the plaintiff asked the court to enter judgment in her favor notwithstanding the jury’s findings, but the trial court rejected her request. The plaintiff then appealed that ruling to the state supreme court, arguing that the defendant should be liable for the accident as a matter of law and that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable.

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The Supreme Court of Idaho recently released an opinion that affirmed a jury’s award of nearly $4 million to a plaintiff, based upon allegations that his wife’s death was caused by a liposuction procedure that was negligently performed by the defendant. The defendant had appealed the verdict, based in part on allegations that the trial judge improperly commented on the plaintiff’s evidence at trial, which illegitimately influenced the jury’s decision. As a result of the appellate court’s rejection of the defendant’s arguments made on appeal, the defendant will be required to pay the entire judgment awarded to the plaintiff.

StethoscopeThe Plaintiff’s Wife Died After an Unknown Bacteria Was Introduced into Her Body During a Medical Procedure

The plaintiff in the case of Ballard v. Kerr was a man whose wife passed away after allegedly contracting an infection during a liposuction procedure that was performed by the defendant. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the defendant failed to properly disinfect and sterilize certain medical equipment that was used in the procedure, introducing bacteria into her body and causing the infection, which ultimately resulted in her death by septic shock approximately four days after the surgery.

The Jury Finds the Defendant’s Negligence Was the Proximate Cause of the Woman’s Death

After a two-week trial on the plaintiff’s wrongful death claim, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $3.8 million in economic and non-economic damages. The jury additionally reached the conclusion that the defendant was more than simply negligent and acted recklessly in causing the woman’s death, which resulted in additional damages being awarded to the plaintiff.

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The United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently published a decision affirming a jury’s verdict for the defendant in a personal injury and product liability lawsuit that was filed against a retailer by a woman who was injured in a bicycle accident. The woman’s claim, which was ultimately rejected by the jury, was that the defendant sold her a bicycle with defective brakes and should be held accountable for injuries that she suffered shortly after purchasing the bike. Because of the appellate opinion affirming the jury’s verdict, the plaintiff will not be compensated for the injuries she suffered in the accident.

BikeThe Plaintiff Is Injured in a Crash Shortly After Purchasing the Bike from the Defendant

The plaintiff in the case of Applebaum v. Target Corporation is a woman who purchased a bicycle from the defendant and injured her shoulder when she crashed the bike on a hill during her first ride. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the bicycle in question had been previously returned by another customer before the plaintiff bought it, and she alleged that the rear-brake assembly should have been repaired before the bike was sold to her. After her injury, the plaintiff filed a product liability claim against the defendant and the bike’s manufacturer, alleging that her fall was caused by the defective brake assembly that was not properly repaired before she bought the bike.

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A division of the Court of Appeal of the State of California recently published an opinion reversing a trial court ruling that had prevented an accident victim from pursuing a negligence claim arising from injuries he suffered in a crash allegedly caused by a paramedic who was responding to a medical emergency. The trial court previously rejected the plaintiff’s claim because it was not filed within California’s one-year statute of limitations for negligence claims against a medical professional. The appellate court determined that the plaintiff’s car accident claim should not be restricted by the statute of limitations for professional negligence and remanded the case back to the trial court to proceed toward a trial or settlement.

AmbulanceThe Defendant Ran a Red Light While Responding to an Emergency and Injured the Plaintiff

The plaintiff in the case of Aldana v. Stillwagon is a private citizen who was injured when his vehicle was struck by the defendant as he drove through an intersection. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was a paramedic and was driving a standard pickup truck en route to a medical emergency when he failed to stop at a red light and crashed into the plaintiff, who had the right of way at the time of the accident. Based on the injuries suffered in the accident, the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant approximately 17 months after the crash.

The Plaintiff’s Suit Is Dismissed Based on a Special Statute of Limitations

In response to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the defendant argued that California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act contained a statute of limitations that barred the plaintiff’s claim. Under California law, a victim of professional negligence by a medical provider must file a claim within one year from the date the injury was discovered. Since the defendant was working as a paramedic and responding to an emergency at the time of the crash, the trial court determined that the plaintiff’s claim was subject to the one-year statute of limitations and dismissed the case, resulting in the plaintiff’s appeal.

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Late last month, the Nebraska State Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s decision granting a grocery store summary judgment in a personal injury lawsuit brought by an injured patron. According to the opinion, a customer injured herself after she slipped on a piece of watermelon on the store’s floor.

Wet FloorApparently, there were individuals in the grocery store providing watermelon samples at the time of the accident. The injured woman claimed that the store was negligent in several ways and that the store’s negligence resulted in her injuries. The grocery store moved for summary judgment and argued that they did not know of or create the dangerous condition. The lower court agreed with the defense and stated that although it was clear that watermelon samples were being distributed by the grocery store, that alone was insufficient to support a claim for negligence.

The plaintiff appealed this decision to the state supreme court. The plaintiff argued that the grocery store should have known that a customer may have dropped the watermelon. However, the court held that one could not reasonably conclude that the grocery store created the hazardous condition or even knew about it. The court found that, despite the plaintiff’s contentions, there was no proof that the grocery store had constructive knowledge of the dropped watermelon. In sum, the court held that since there was no evidence that substantiated a claim of constructive knowledge or the creation of a dangerous condition, the lawsuit should be dismissed.

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A state appellate court recently published an opinion in a medical negligence case stemming from a 2011 surgery. The case was brought by a couple after the wife underwent surgery at a local hospital and subsequently suffered a stroke. Approximately two years after the surgery, the couple brought a claim against the manufacturer of the medical device that the respondents used during the procedure. This lawsuit did not name the doctor who performed the surgery or the hospital where it was performed.

White CoatSeveral months later, and after the three-year statute of limitations had expired, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint. The couple wanted to add the doctor and hospital as new parties to the lawsuit under a medical malpractice theory. The hospital and doctor moved for summary judgment and argued that the statute of limitations barred the lawsuit because although the original case was filed before the statute of limitations had expired, the amended complaint naming them was untimely. The district court granted these motions, and the couple then appealed. The appellate court held that the defendants were correct and that the case against them should be dismissed

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A state appellate court recently decided that a personal injury case involving an underinsured motorist claim should be remanded back to the trial court, due to ambiguities in the insurance contract. The main issue that was being disputed was a clause in the insurer’s policy that required that an underinsured motorist claim must be brought within three years, although the policy also stated that the insured individual must first exhaust the underinsured’s insurance policy.

Signing a ContractIn this case, a mother and her two sons were involved in a serious car accident with an underinsured motorist. The mother filed a lawsuit against the other driver, and her own insurance company also filed a complaint against the driver. The insurance company was seeking damages for payments they made as a result of the accident. However, the other driver’s insurance policy coverage was minimal. The mother filed a claim with her own insurance company as well because the other driver’s policy was insufficient to cover her damages. However, since this was done more than three years after the accident, the insurance company filed a motion to dismiss and argued that the claim was barred by the requirement in the contract that all claims be brought within three years.

The trial court denied the insurance company’s motion, and they then appealed. The court affirmed the trial court’s decision and found that the policy was ambiguous and should be construed in favor of the plaintiff.

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In a recent opinion, a court held in favor of an injured driver who sued their insurance company after filing a claim with the company and receiving a very small amount of damages. The case stemmed from a 2007 accident in which the driver was rear-ended by another vehicle. Sadly, the accident caused serious harm to the driver’s back, and as a result, he filed a claim with his insurance company.

Wrecked CarThe driver brought the claim under the insurance company’s “uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.” The insurance company and the driver had several months of back and forth until the insurance company finally paid a very small amount. The driver went on to sue the insurance company and claimed that the company breached their contract and caused an unreasonable delay. The jury found in favor of the driver, and the insurance company then appealed. The insurance company argued that the driver produced erroneous expert testimony and was unreasonable. However, the District Court ruled in the driver’s favor and affirmed the $2,250,000 damages award.

New Mexico Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policies

Although accidents are a natural risk that everyone takes when driving, it does not mean that the devastation is any less when it does occur. Drivers purchase insurance policies in order to mitigate the financial cost of an accident. However, frequently insurance does not cover all of the costs associated with an accident. A particularly difficult situation arises when the culpable party does not have insurance at all. In these situations, many drivers rely on their own insurance company’s under-insured or uninsured policy.

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The Supreme Court in the State of Rhode Island ruled on a case stemming from a tragic diving accident occurring back in 2008. The plaintiff, then 29, became paralyzed from the neck down after diving into a pond at a Veterans Memorial Park. The man and his wife filed a case against the state Department of Environmental Management and two individuals for negligence under a theory of premises liability.

Lake at DuskThe family claimed that the state failed to warn and guard against a dangerous condition on their property. The jury at the trial court returned a verdict in favor of the state. The plaintiffs then went on to file a motion for a new trial, but the state filed a cross-motion, arguing that they did not owe a duty to the plaintiff. The court referred to the state’s recreational use statute and found that although the state acknowledged the design of the pond was hazardous, the plaintiff also admitted that he was aware of the danger and that he may have been irresponsible in failing to check the depth of the water. The Supreme Court found that, even in looking at the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the behavior of the state did not rise to egregious conduct. Moreover, there was no evidence to support the premise that the state “willfully or maliciously” failed to warn or guard against the dangerous condition. As a result, the court entered a judgment in favor of the State.

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The Maine Supreme Judicial Court released an opinion earlier this month regarding a tragic accident that resulted in the death of an employee who was driving a rental truck on behalf of his employer. The accident occurred in 2011 when the driver slid off an icy road. The victim’s family filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver’s employer and the truck rental company.

GavelThe lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. They found that the driver was barred from suit due to certain provisions in the Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, the truck rental company did not proximately cause the injuries the victim suffered. The plaintiff’s estate then appealed the judgment, but the court agreed with and affirmed the lower court’s judgment. They found that the plaintiff’s evidence did not establish proximate cause by the truck rental company and also that the lawsuit was barred by the Act.

New Mexico Respondeat Superior Law in Personal Injury Lawsuits

When individuals are injured in an accident, often another party is responsible for the accident. In those cases, the victim may wish to pursue a claim against the negligent party, and in some instances, if the party was acting within the scope of their employment when the accident occurred, they may even bring a lawsuit against the employer.

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