This year Tennessee enacted a “loser pays” bills. Basically, the bill says that if a person files a lawsuit that is dismissed by the court because it failed to state a claim, that person has to pay costs and attorney’s fees up to $10,000.00. The bill was said to have been passed to discourage frivolous lawsuits. However, what the bill fails to do is protect people from “frivolous defenses.” This is a much more common source of needles litigation.
To explain this point a little further, my office has been litigating catastrophic injury cases for almost twenty years now. I can say from experience that lawyers that do our type of work do not sit around all day saying “I sure hope I can file a frivolous lawsuit today”. As such, I am not worried about this new law impacting my clients. However, what I have seen over the years are abusive insurance companies and corporations refusing to accept responsibility for their actions. Frivolous and unsupported defenses require my clients to spend time and money to prove cases and disprove frivolous defense claims just to pursue justice. One recent example is when my client was hit by a drunk driver driving on the wrong side of the interstate which killed his wife and resulted in life changing injuries to him. The driver, by and through his insurance defense lawyer, denied the accident was the drunk driver’s fault despite numerous witnesses and his clear intoxication. Because some of the witnesses were out of state, we had to take several expensive depositions and my client had to relive this horrible event each time. After all this was done and after the drunk driver had been convicted of negligent homicide arising out of this incident, only then did the drunk driver finally admitted he caused the accident. However, my client will be stuck with the costs and time involved in fighting this ridiculous position. The new “loser pays” bill will not help him at all. How is that fair?
If the legislature really wants to prevent needless litigation, they would amend this bill to include a provision that allows a winning party to obtain fees when responsibility is denied. However, they will never do this as that would costs the insurance companies and corporations too much money.
If you need to speak with one of our Tennessee Serious Injury Lawyers, please feel free to call or email at anytime.