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Tennessee Supreme Court OKs $43.8 million award for injured boy

After someone is hurt in a Tennessee traffic accident, the first legal issue is usually to find out who was at fault in the accident. Typically, the fault lies with one of the drivers involved, but multiple drivers may share some of the fault. In some cases, there may be other legal issues at work, making still other parties partly responsible for the injuries.

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently reinstated a jury verdict in favor of the family of a 6-year-old boy who was paralyzed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver more than 10 years ago. The boy was in the back seat of his father's car in January 2002 when a drunk driver crashed into them.

A lawsuit on behalf of the boy alleged that the Ford Motor Co. was partly at fault for the boy's injuries because of problems with the boy's seat belt. After a trial, the jury awarded $43.8 million, of which Ford was ordered to pay $6.57 million to the boy. The Appeals Court ruled that this award was excessive and reduced Ford's share of the damages to $1.93 million.

The state Supreme Court reversed the Appeals Court's decision. It held that the original award of $6.57 million was reasonable and should stand.

This is an unusual case, with an unusually high award. However, it illustrates some important points about personal injury claims. After a traffic accident, the injured may receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages if the injuries were the result of someone else's negligence. A negligent driver may be held liable, but other parties may be as well. For example, in the case of a traffic accident caused by a commercial truck driver, the driver's employer may be held partly liable in some cases. Likewise, a car manufacturer may be held partly liable if its defective car contributed to the injuries.

There are many things to consider before filing a personal injury claim based on a traffic accident. It is important for Tennessee residents who have been injured due to someone else's negligence to get help understanding how the law applies to their situation.

Source: News Channel 5, "High Court Reinstates Verdict After Boy Paralyzed," Sep. 5, 2013

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