Call for Witness in Trooper’s Deadly Motorcycle Accident

Michigan State Police are actively searching for more witnesses to a crash in the City of Rockford that took the life of a state trooper, according to M-Live.

Twenty-eight-year-old State Trooper Timothy O’Neill was killed in an accident at Belding Road and Wolverine Boulevard NE while on duty as part of the motorcycle patrol. The crash involved another motor vehicle, but no one else suffered any injuries.

State Police Lieutenant Kevin Sweeney said that an accident reconstruction expert and a state police detective are still investigating the crash. More details will be released once that investigation is complete. According to the lieutenant, investigators are taking their time to ensure everything is done properly. Fatal cases, noted Sweeney, normally have a longer investigation time than cases that do not involve death.

O’Neill joined the state police in 2014, spending his entire career in Rockford, and he was set to be married on October 7. Several members of law enforcement and the community came out to honor him at his funeral service in Auburn Hills. Local resident and attendee Kathy Albright told reporters that she came to pay her respects because law enforcement officers often do not receive the respect they deserve.

Motorcycle deaths are on the rise

The tragic case of O’Neill highlights just how much risk motorcycle riders face when they’re out on the roads, even if they are members of law enforcement and have had specialized training as a result. In late September, for example, off-duty Los Angeles police officer 34-year-old John Gasparyan was hit and killed by a motorist who was making a U-turn, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The week before the L.A. accident, Highway Patrol Officer James Branik was struck and killed in San Martin, California, while on his motorcycle when a car made a left turn right into his path – a common mistake motorists make that often has deadly consequences for motorcyclists – according to the Mercury News.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcycle deaths are going up based on the most recent data available. There was an 8.3 percent jump in motorcycle fatalities between 2014 and 2015, and in 2015, studies showed that a motorcyclist was 29 times more likely than occupant car passengers to die in a collision per mile traveled. In addition, the fatality rate for registered motorcycles was six times the rate of registered motor vehicles. With the increase of registered motorcycles on the road over the last year and motorists still not completely aware of how to share the road with them, this tragic trend is likely to continue.

A motorcycle accident often has serious consequences for the rider because of the lack of body protection in such an open method of transport, especially when compared to the protection people receive in passenger cars, trucks and buses. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you do have rights. Speak to a motorcycle or car accident lawyer Denver CO trusts today about what you can do for your case.


Thanks to our friend and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into motorcycle accident cases.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Personal Injury Victims From Personal Injury Lawyer Memphis, TN Counts On!

memphis personal injury lawyerIt seems that everyone is on Facebook or some other type of social media these days. Many people are even addicted to it. If you have a Memphis, TN car wreck or personal injury claim, you should carefully consider the impact your social media posts could have on your case and the ultimate settlement or verdict you receive.  As an experienced personal injury lawyer Memphis TN knows and trusts, I can tell you that insurance companies and defense attorneys, as part of their evaluation of you and your case, perform social media account investigation. They will pull up your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media accounts to see if they can gather useful information about you, your activities, and the extent of your injuries.  We at Wiseman Bray PLLC put together the following social media tips for personal injury victims.

Personal Injury Social Media Tips

  1. Archive the content of current accounts. Destruction of potential evidence may create bigger problems than the information itself, so it is important that you do not delete any current content on your social media accounts.  Most social media sites include directions for archiving.

 

  1. Ideally, stop active use of social media. Consider stopping active use of social media altogether. Use it purely for passively looking at content posted by others, and do not post content of your own.

 

  1. At a minimum, be cautious. If you must post information about yourself, think about how posts might be perceived, especially when taken out of context. For example, posting photos of you on a camping trip may leave the false impression that you participate in vigorous physical activity without difficulty or pain.  Social media almost never provides a complete and accurate depiction of life since most people tend to post only the most positive or glamorous aspects of their lives.  You must assume that anything you post – including status updates, messages, and wall postings – will at some point be seen by the other lawyers, judges, and juries. NEVER post information that may relate to your injury claim, even indirectly.

 

  1. Disclose potential problems to a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN counts on. You may have already made potentially problematic posts before reading this. Remember, though, that you should not destroy or delete any information from your social media accounts.  However, do let your personal injury lawyer know so that he or she can avoid any surprises down the road.

 

  1. Turn on the highest privacy settings. Set your privacy settings to the highest level.  Make sure that only friends can see your information, rather than friends of friends, or the general public.

 

  1. Be aware of “friends.” Create “friend lists” so that only certain friends can see your photo albums or status updates.  Remove any “friends” you do not know well, or at all, and accept friend requests and followers only from people you know and trust.  

 

  1. Make yourself invisible to searches. As learned by a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN knows and relies on, you can remove yourself from Facebook search results by selecting “only friends” under the “search visibility” option in your profile settings.  You can also remove yourself from Google in Memphis TN by unchecking the box for “Public Search Listing” in your Internet Privacy settings. You should make comparable changes to privacy settings on all other social media accounts.

 

  1. Preserve all computers, tablets, and cell phones. If you lose or destroy an electronic communication device, the lawyer on the other side could try to portray it as deliberate destruction of evidence.  It is better to fight a battle over access to a device than to have a judge instruct a jury that it may legally assume and conclude the contents of the device would have been unfavorable to you.

 

  1. Don’t send messages or information about your case. Do not send to anyone, except for your lawyers and their staff, any email, text message, or “private” social media message about your claim, health, or activities. Those communications are not privileged and opposing counsel may be allowed to review any and all such communications.  Careless communication can destroy a case.

 

  1. Don’t join websites or web chat groups. You do not own the information you post online, and that information is highly searchable.  Do not enter any information on dating or insurance sites, post on message boards, participate in or comment on social media “private” groups or blogs, or use chat rooms.

Social Media in Other Types of Cases and Claims

These tips are useful if you are involved in any type of litigation or claim, such as apartment crime, negligent security, insurance claim, contract disputes, business litigation, car or auto accident, or premises liability.

Need a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN trusts?

Call us at Wiseman Bray PLLC  today at (901) 372-5003 or email us here.  Let us put our experience as negotiators, litigators, and trial lawyers to work for you.

How to Talk to Your Insurance Company After an Accident

insurance company after car accidentAfter a car accident, you may feel it necessary to contact your auto insurance company or carrier and let them know what has happened immediately. While informing your carrier of an accident is an important step in getting the compensation you deserve, there are a few things you should know before you pick up the phone.

Don’t Always Expect the Insurance Company to be on Your Side

As nice as it is to believe that an insurance company is on your side, this might not always be the case. Insurance agencies are running a business, meaning their main concern will almost always be their bottom dollar. Even though you may have paid your monthly premiums, and followed up on your end of the bargain, the insurance company will likely still not be looking after your best interests. That’s why you may want to consider enlisting the help of a personal injury attorney. Their main objective is to help you get the compensation you deserve. In fact, most DC personal injury lawyers won’t see any payment until you do.

Speaking with Your Insurance Company

After an accident, you may want to follow these steps:

  • Call the police
  • Take care of injuries
  • Exchange information with the other driver
  • Document the accident
  • Report the accident to your insurance company

When you contact the insurance company, you will likely need the following information:

  • Policy information
  • Identity Verification
  • Facts about the accident
  • What property was damaged
  • If there were any injuries
  • Police report and its identification number

At this point, insurance companies will likely try and find ways to reject your accident claims or find a way to pay the least amount of money on a claim. Remember, you only have to provide the basic information at this time. Stick to the facts and avoid adding any personal opinions, or conjecture about liability; an insurance company will likely try to spin any non-factual evidence you provide to avoid paying your claim. This is also not a time to accept any offers from the insurance company for a payout. If you already have an attorney, provide the attorney’s contact information to the representative. If you don’t have an attorney, let the representative know you will be getting one. Retaining an attorney shows the insurance company that you are serious and that they cannot take advantage of you.

If you’ve been injured in an accident and are in the process of dealing with your insurance company to get the compensation you deserve, it may be in your best interest to seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

0 COHEN

 

Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into communicating with your insurance agency.

 

Need a Memphis Personal Injury Lawyer?

Call us at (901) 372-5003.  Our experienced Memphis injury lawyers can help you make the most of your insurance claim. Sign up for email notifications of blog posts here.

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003 Office

(901) 383-6599 Fax

www.WisemanBray.com

Wrongful Death of a Child

wrongful death of a child attorneyNo one should have to ever think about the wrongful death of a child. As a mother of two young children, I can’t think of anything more unbearable than the loss of a child. But according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, over 57,000 children under the age of 19 die every year in the United States.

Our law firm represents parents who have lost a child due to the fault of another person or company. The legal term for a death caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing is “wrongful death.”

Who can File Suit for Wrongful Death of a Child?

In Tennessee, only certain people have the right to file a lawsuit to recover damages for the wrongful death of a child. As a general matter, the child’s parents can file suit against the responsible party.  If the parents are divorced, special rules apply. Usually, the parent with “primary custody” has the right to file suit. An administrator can also file the lawsuit. Tenn. Code Ann. Section Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-5-106 provides that the wrongful death cause of action:

shall pass to . . .the [child’s] natural parents or parent or next of kin if at the time of death [the child] was in the custody of the natural parents or parent and had not been legally surrendered or abandoned by [the parents] pursuant to any court order removing [the child] from the custody of [the parents or parent]; or otherwise to the [child’s] legally adoptive parents or parent, or to the administrator for the use and benefit of the adoptive parents or parent; the funds recovered in either case to be free from the claims of creditors.

Occasionally, due to family circumstances, wrongful death cases involving children can become very complicated. Sometimes disputes arise between divorced parents or among family members as to how the case should be handled. Also, even if you aren’t the person to file the lawsuit, you may still be entitled to recover a portion of the damages awarded. Likewise, the person who files the lawsuit may or may not be entitled to a portion of the money damages awarded. An experienced wrongful death attorney can talk with you, learn about your family situation, and advise you on your potential rights.

What are the Damages in a Wrongful Death Case Involving a Child?

Damages in a case involving the wrongful death of a child are determined on a case by case basis. A jury will look at all of the facts and circumstances and make an award. Legally speaking though, the types of damages recoverable in a wrongful death case are statutory and are set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-5-113. The general categories are:

(1)     Injuries Suffered by the Child from Time of Injury Until Death

This classification allows recovery for medical expenses, physical and mental pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and loss of earning capacity during the period from injury to death.

(2)     Incidental Damages Sustained by Child’s Next of Kin

This classification of damages includes the pecuniary value of the child’s life.  The “pecuniary value” of a deceased child’s life represents the value of the child’s probable future financial accumulations at the time of the child’s death.  To determine the pecuniary value of a decedent’s life, a court considers the following factors: life expectancy and age, condition of health, capacity for earning money through a skill, art, trade, profession, occupation or business, and personal habits regarding sobriety and industry. The amount should then be reduced by deducting the decedent’s probable living expenses had the decedent lived.

In the case of a wrongful death of a child, the analysis is a bit different. Living expenses are the costs associated with child-rearing. In the case of a very young child, estimates of the child’s future earnings and contributions are speculative at best. For this reason, it can be helpful to have expert testimony concerning the valuation of a child’s pecuniary losses.

Loss of Consortium (Filial Consortium Damages)

Pecuniary value also includes the value of human companionship. Parents of a deceased child are entitled to recover for loss of consortium.  However, these claims for loss of consortium cannot exist independently from the claim that a defendant’s negligence caused the child’s death. Thus, parents cannot recover for the sorrow and anguish endured as a result of the child’s death. Rather, the “pecuniary value” of the child’s life includes a value for the parents’ loss of consortium

In determining the amount of consortium damages, courts consider the benefits the child bestowed on the family, such as companionship, comfort, society, attention, cooperation, affection, care and love. Because it is impossible to generalize on the extent to which family members enjoy each other’s companionship and society, the measurement of a particular parent’s loss of a particular child’s consortium is decided on a case by case basis.

Punitive Damages

If the child’s death was caused by reckless or intentional conduct, parents can seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the responsible person and deter similar behavior.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Depending on the facts of the case, parents of a deceased child may be able to assert independent claims for “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” An experienced wrongful death lawyer can advise you further about this and other claims you may have.

Limits on Damages in Tennessee Due to Tort Reform

As a general rule, the most that parents can recover for “loss of consortium” damages for the wrongful death of a child is $750,000. Punitive damages are usually limited to $500,000 or two times the compensatory damages, whichever is greater. One of our Memphis wrongful death attorneys can discuss your case and explain the rules on damages in Tennessee, as well as the various limitations in effect due to Tennessee Tort Reform.

Looking for a Caring and Compassionate Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If you’d like to speak with a caring and compassionate wrongful death lawyer in the Memphis or Nashville area, please call our office at 901-372-5003. We’re not your everyday law firm. We are mothers and fathers just like you and we treat our clients like family. There is never any charge for an initial consultation or meeting.  To get email notifications of our blog posts, please sign up here.

Resources for Families Suffering the Wrongful Death of a Child

Understanding Grief When Your Child Dies

The Death of a Child: The Grief of the Parents: A Lifetime Journey

 

Blog Post by:   Erin Shea

memphis personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorneyErin practices in the area of civil litigation, including personal injury and wrongful death, premises liability, apartment crime, business and contractual disputes, and insurance claims. Before joining Wiseman Bray PLLC, Erin practiced at Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC, gaining extensive experience in litigation. Her experience at a large insurance defense firm gives her a unique perspective in advancing claims on behalf of the firm’s clients.

Erin has been listed as a Mid-South Super Lawyers Rising Star every year since 2009  and is a Fellow of the Memphis Bar Foundation.

She is married to Martin F. Shea, Jr., and has two very active young children— Elin (Age 4) and Martin (Age 21 months)– and a German Shepherd dog named Iko.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, movies, good television, and exercise.

 

 

Erin Melton Shea

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003

 

Does Health Insurance Cover Injuries from a Car Accident?

insurance personal injury lawyer Almost every state in this country requires a motor vehicle driver to carry insurance, except for New Hampshire and Virginia. Whenever you need to go to the hospital, you expect to utilize the services you pay for to cover your care. But what happens when you seek medical treatment as a result of a car accident? Does your medical insurance still cover this bill, or do you turn to your car insurance for assistance?

Which Insurance Company Covers the Bills?

This question is really quite detailed, and many factors come into play. In most cases, whoever is at fault is responsible for the medical bills. If someone else hits you and is cited for the accident, it is their insurance that is responsible for paying your medical bills. Now, let us suppose that you are hit by someone who did not have insurance coverage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists

For situations where the at-fault party has little to no coverage, carrying an insurance policy known as uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage can help alleviate the stress of mounting medical bills. This coverage can allow your motor vehicle insurance to cover the medical portion of whatever the at-fault drivers could not. This can be especially important if injuries have lasting or permanent effects.

Initial Medical Costs Are Not Always Final

When it comes to a car accident and medical costs, the initial costs of treatment may not be the final total on care. Oftentimes, people do not realize how severely injured they are until days or even weeks after the incident.

Furthermore, if you have had to take time off of work due to your injuries, or have a possibly disabling condition; you may be entitled to further compensation for those damages as well. A DC car accident lawyer can stand beside you and fight for a compensation package that may be able to better recuperate damages you’ve suffered.

Why You May Need an Attorney

An insurance company wants to settle the claim as quickly and as quietly as possible. They do not want to go to court, and do not want to pay a dime more than they have to. Your best interest is not their priority; their main focus is to protect their bottom line. An attorney may be able to help combat attempts to settle your claim with a low-ball offer, expedite the settlement award process, and offer peace of mind by professionally managing all of the complexities of your case.

A top attorney should be able to examine your potential case and determine the path to compensation. They may also be able to assist in determining who is responsible for the medical bills based on your unique situation. There are always loopholes and all sorts of red tape when it comes to an auto accident; which is why having a legal adviser can be so beneficial.

Do you need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Please call Wiseman Bray PLLC for a free consultation at 901-372-5003. We are personal injury lawyers in Memphis and Nashville and have extensive experience handling car accident cases. Tell us about your car accident case and let us help you. Sign up for email notifications of our blog post!

0 COHEN

Thanks to our friends and contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their additional insight into car accident and personal injury practice.

Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement?

personal injury settlementMany of our Memphis and Tennessee injury clients ask – will I have to pay taxes on my settlement for personal injuries?  The general answer is NO.

Will the IRS make me pay taxes on my settlement?

Here is what the IRS currently says about Settlements and Taxability:

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.

What if I did take an itemized deduction for related medical bills in prior years?

Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement if I did?  You must include in income the part of the settlement that is for medical expenses you deducted in any prior year to the extent the deduction provided a tax benefit. For detailed information on how to report this, we recommend that you speak with your accountant or tax professional.

What about settlements for Emotional Distress or Mental Anguish?

If you receive a settlement for emotional distress or mental anguish stemming from a personal physical injury or sickness, then the settlement is treated the same as a personal injury, as noted above above. However, if the settlement for emotional distress or anguish does not arise out of a personal injury or sickness, then you must include the proceeds in your income. Here is what the IRS states on this issue:

If the proceeds you receive for emotional distress or mental anguish do not originate from a personal physical injury or physical sickness, you must include them in your income. However, the amount you must include is reduced by: (1) amounts paid for medical expenses attributable to emotional distress or mental anguish not previously deducted and (2) previously deducted medical expenses for such distress and anguish that did not provide a tax benefit. Attach to your return a statement showing the entire settlement amount less related medical costs not previously deducted and medical costs deducted for which there was no tax benefit. The net taxable amount should be reported as “Other Income.”

Punitive Damages are Taxable

If you receive an actual court award of punitive damages, those proceeds are taxable and should be reported as “Other Income.”  This is true even if the award stems from personal injury or sickness.

Recovery of Lost Wages is Taxable

If your personal injury settlement is itemized to include recovery for lost wages, then that portion of the settlement is taxable and should be reported as income.  During the negotiation phase, most attorneys are careful to clarify and/or minimize, if not eliminate, any apportionment of the settlement to wages.  You would likely also receive a Form 1099 for any recovery attributable to lost wages.  [Note: Wages and/or settlements paid in connection with work comp are not taxable.]

Interest on a Settlement is Taxable

What if the other side doesn’t pay my settlement all at once? Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement if they pay me interest? Yes. Interest you are paid on any settlement is taxable as “Interest Income.”

Do I have to tell my CPA or Tax Preparer about my settlement?

We advise that you do, so that he or she can advise you on the most up-to-date reporting requirements applying to your specific settlement.

Injured and seeking legal representation?

Call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here. We handle a wide range of personal injury cases.  Our approach to handling cases is what sets our firm apart. While some injury lawyers and firms take on hundreds of cases, and may seem more interested in quickly settling the case than seeking full and fair compensation for their client, we focus on identifying great clients and great relationships.

Victims need a lawyer with the experience, drive, and knowledge necessary to compete with the insurance companies who are handling your claim. Otherwise, you’ll end up being a victim twice, and you might not even realize it until it’s already too late. Our personal injury practice is led by Harvard-educated attorney Lang Wiseman. We know how to get fair and just results.

Click here to learn more about the work we do.

 

Who is the best lawyer near me?

best lawyer in memphis

By:  Lang Wiseman

You may have been hurt in an auto accident or truck accident and wondering:

  • Who is the best injury lawyer or best accident lawyer in Memphis, or Nashville?
  • Who is the best injury attorney near me?
  • Who is the best car wreck lawyer in Cordova, or Bartlett, or Germantown?
  • Who is the best car wreck attorney near me?

You may have been injured and Googled those questions, or perhaps others:

  • Who is the best personal injury attorney or wrongful death lawyer in Memphis?
  • Who is the best spinal cord injury lawyer, or brain injury lawyer near me, or in Memphis, or in Tennessee?
  • Who is the best lawyer to negotiate with an insurance company for damages for your injury?

Right question. Wrong answer.

You won’t ever hear any lawyer or attorney at Wiseman Bray PLLC claim that we are the “best” in Memphis – for a couple of different reasons. First, because there are plenty of fine lawyers and attorneys in the Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee area, including in Cordova, Bartlett, Germantown, Arlington, Millington, Collierville, and Lakeland.  We would seriously question any injury lawyer with the temerity to proclaim himself “the best.”

Second, based on Rule 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility back in 2004 specifically prohibited such self-serving, subjective statements by attorneys, including statements that a lawyer is “most qualified,” “excellent,” “top,” “most experienced,” “preferred”, or an “expert” in a particular field of law, such as personal injury, auto accident, or wrongful death.  The Board’s opinion was based on provisions of Rule 7 that have since been revised, and thus it is not entirely clear whether an outright prohibition is still technically enforceable. However, most reputable lawyers still find such statements to be highly questionable, and certainly in poor taste.

So, the next time you hear an attorney refer to herself or himself as an expert, or say that he or she is the best lawyer in a Tennessee town – whether on TV or on a website or in marketing materials – you should know that that lawyer is not only humility-challenged, but also possibly in violation of the basic Rules governing attorney conduct.

The right answer?

At Wiseman Bray PLLC, you’ll only hear us talk about our experience in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee injury claims, and about our unique and selective approach to personal injury and wrongful death claims. When it comes to injury cases, we’re not a high-volume, low-dollar settlement firm. We only take serious claims involving serious injuries or death, and we purposefully keep our caseload small so we can give our clients the attention they deserve.

You can check out our qualifications here, and you can click here to find out more about some of the actual results we’ve achieved in various types of cases, including car wrecks, truck accidents, slip and fall cases, and wrongful death claims. At the end of the day, we’ll allow our client ratings and peer reviews from such public resources as AVVO or Findlaw do the talking for us. Click on those links to see what others have to say about us.

Search our blog or  website for more helpful resources and information, and please call or email about a free consultation. We’ll respond in less than 24 hours to let you know whether we can help. Here’s our contact information.

Why You Don’t Hear About Liability Insurance in a Jury Trial

memphis injury lawyer jury trial Did you know that during most Tennessee state court jury trials, you will never hear the word “insurance?”  That’s because 99% of the time, evidence of liability insurance is not admissible under the Tennessee Rules of Evidence.

Tennessee Rule of Evidence 411 provides that:

Evidence that a person was or was not insured against liability is not admissible upon issues of negligence or other wrongful conduct. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of insurance against liability when offered for another purpose, such as proof of agency, ownership, or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness.

Rationale

Rule 411 is based on the notion that disputes should be resolved based on the conduct of the people involved, not based on whether they have insurance.

Insurance Jury Instruction

Not everyone has insurance. Some people have some insurance, but not enough.  Sometimes a person will have purchased an insurance policy only to find out that it won’t apply to pay damages in certain kinds of lawsuits. Sometimes the Judge will issue a jury instruction in Tennessee to help guard against improper consideration of insurance.  When the instruction is used, the Judge tells the jury that:

[W]hether or not insurance exists has no bearing upon any issue in this case. You may not discuss insurance or speculate about insurance based on your general knowledge.  There are sound reasons for this rule. A party is no more or less likely to be negligent because a party does or does not have insurance. Injuries and damages, if any, are not increased or decreased because a party does or does not have insurance.

Tennessee Pattern Jury Instruction – Civil 1.05.

Insurance Information Is Still Useful

Just because we can’t use evidence of insurance in jury trials doesn’t mean we can’t make good use of the information.  Knowing whether parties are insured, and to what extent, helps us develop an efficient strategy for resolving a dispute, and it helps us give sound advice to our clients who are wondering if they should settle a claim or file a lawsuit.

Need help settling a claim with a liability insurance carrier?

We can help you. Wiseman Bray has offices in Memphis and Nashville Tennessee. Call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.

It’s Prom Season: Liquor Liability for Allowing Minors to Drink Alcohol

liquor liability for prom party

Since it’s Prom Season, let’s talk about liquor liability for social hosts.

Let’s say you’re one of those parents who thinks, “teenagers are going to drink, so I’m going to allow my kids to drink in my home so they won’t do it somewhere else.”  Your teenager asks you if he can have a “Prom After-Party” at your home with a few friends. You agree. You also agree that they can “drink a little.” You tell your son that no one will be allowed to drive.

Now consider this, let’s say your daughter was in a car accident on her way home from Starbucks after her Prom.  Other than coffee, she hadn’t had a drop to drink. The other driver was an underage intoxicated teenage girl who had just left a “Prom After-Party” at a private home where alcohol was served. She disregarded the “no one is driving home” rule that the parents set for the evening.

So, what’s the law on parents who allow minors to drink in their homes?

Social Host Liquor Liability

In general, if you host a party and serve free alcohol to your guests, you’re not going to be liable if they become intoxicated and injure someone on the way home.  Tennessee Liquor Liability statutes are designed to apply mainly to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores, so there’s a distinction between selling alcohol and otherwise providing it. Tenn. Code Ann. 57-10-102.  However, as is usually the case, there are exceptions, meaning that even if you don’t sell alcohol, you could still become liable under certain circumstances.

Serving Alcohol to Minors

If you have a party at your home and serve alcohol to a minor who becomes intoxicated, you could be held liable if that minor causes injury or damage to a third person.  You could even be liable if you don’t provide the alcohol, but you know the minors are drinking it. This is because, in some cases, the law considers an adult host to be in a “special relationship” with a minor guest, such that the adult host owes a duty to ensure the safety of the minor guest, as well as to keep the minor from driving while intoxicated.

social host liquor liability

Liquor Liability Law in Tennessee is Complex

It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you have a potential Liquor Liability case.  While underage drinking is certainly illegal, civil liability implications are extremely fact-intensive and liability varies from case to case.

Wiseman Bray has offices in Memphis and Nashville TN. If you have a question about liquor liability, the Dram Shop Act, or social host laws in Tennessee, please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.

Example of a Liquor Liability Case Involving Minors

For an example of a liquor liability case involving minors and alcohol, read the Biscan v. Brown case.

 

Injured by a Drunk Driver?

drunk driver personal injury lawyerChances are, you either have been or will be the victim of a drunk driver in your lifetime. We know that intoxicated drivers cause personal injuries and deaths every day, but they also cause property damage. Even if you are not injured, your property may be. For example, drunk drivers often cause damage to other cars, houses, businesses, guardrails, signs, yards, and landscaping.

Drunk Driving Statistics

What are the odds that you have been or will be affected by a drunk or intoxicated driver? Take a look at these harrowing  statistics:

  • Every 2 minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
  • On average, 2 in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
  • The rate of drunk driving is highest among 26-29 year olds at 20.7%.
  • In 2014, 9,967 people died in drunk driving crashes. That’s one every 53 minutes. Another 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes.
  • Drunk driving costs the U.S. $132 Billion a year.
  • In 2010, drunk driving alone accounted for 18% of the total economic loss from motor vehicle crashes, costing the economy as much as $199 billion in direct and quality-of-life losses.

What does Drunk or “Intoxicated” Mean?

Tennessee law provides that a person is intoxicated when his or her physical and mental abilities are impaired as a result of drinking or drug use. The impairment must be to the extent that the person can’t act with ordinary and reasonable care like a sober person would under similar circumstances.

Can a Drunk Driver or Person Be Negligent?

Yes!  A drunk person is held to the same standard as a sober person.  Being intoxicated is no excuse for failure to act as a reasonably careful person.

We Represent Victims of Drunk Driving.

As a victim, you need a lawyer with the experience, drive, and knowledge necessary to compete with the insurance companies who are handling your claim. Otherwise, you’ll end up being a victim twice, and you might not even realize it until it’s already too late.  We are victim attorneys and we represent people who have been injured or damaged by drunk or intoxicated drivers. If you need help, we have offices in Memphis and Nashville Tennessee.  Please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.