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April 2013 Archives

Teens admit to driving after drinking or doing drugs

People generally know that teenagers can be more reckless, impulsive and daring than older adults. We also know that teenagers are less experienced when it comes to driving a car. The combination of these characteristics make young, novice drivers some of the most dangerous. With summer right around the corner, teens all across Iowa will have more free time, and the chances of getting injured in an accident with a teenage driver will be very real.

Iowa student crossing the street hit by University of Iowa bus

Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable people on the road. Unlike cars, pedestrians do not have the benefit of airbags, seat belts and other safety devices if they are in an accident. Instead, people on the road must rely on motorists to comply with traffic laws and stay focused on the road so that they do not cause a serious pedestrian accident.

Personal Injury in Iowa: Important Recent U.S. Supreme Court Case

Ever consider the possibility you might settle a personal injury lawsuit for a significant sum and yet somehow still be left owing your employer? On April 16, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court decided U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen, et al. and as a result, this outlandish scenario may become reality for certain Iowans. In U.S. Airways, McCutchen was injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by another driver. His employer's health plan paid $66,866 in related medical expenses. McCutchen ultimately retained attorneys to assist in recovering an estimated $1,000,000 in damages. Yet regrettably, auto insurance limits restricted his available recovery. After compensating attorneys, McCutchen was left with $66,000. Though not ideal, this recovery was acceptable until U.S. Airways demanded full reimbursement of the $66,866 paid for medical expenses. This demand was made in accordance with a federal law named the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) which governs employer health plans and authorizes such legal actions. Unsurprisingly, McCutchen refused to pay - he would have been left owing money - and this led to litigation culminating in the Court's decision.

Iowans reminded that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

One of the most reckless behaviors that motorists in Iowa can engage in while driving is getting distracted. There are a number of distracting behaviors that can affect a person's ability to drive safely, including eating, drinking, reading or talking to other people in the car. However, one of the most dangerous things that a person can do behind the wheel is to text and drive.

Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case Statute of Limitations

On April 10, 2013, the Iowa Court of Appeals, affirmed the trial court's dismissal of a Plaintiff's wrongful death case in a medical malpractice lawsuit for failing to file the suit in the name of the proper plaintiff before the two year statute of limitations had run. In Lightfoot et al. v. Catholic Health Initiatives, et al., the Plaintiff filed the wrongful death action, allegedly caused by negligent medical treatment, in the name of the surviving spouse rather than in the name of the administrator of the decedent's estate.  While the initial lawsuit naming the surviving spouse was timely filed, it was subject to dismissal as the surviving spouse was not the proper party. Rather, the Court of Appeals held that the proper plaintiff was the administrator of the decedent's estate.  Since the administrator of the estate was not appointed until after the two year statute of limitations had run, the trial court properly dismissed the case.  In so ruling, the Court of Appeals affirmed that the two year statute of limitations in wrongful death cases caused by medical malpractice begins to run from the date on which the plaintiff learns of the death. The court rejected Plaintiff's argument that the statute of limitations should only begin to run from the date the Plaintiff learned of the cause of the wrongful death. This case illustrates the importance of naming the proper party as well as the importance of filing a wrongful death lawsuit caused by medical negligence within two years of learning of the death. It also illustrates the importance of seeking legal advice from a law firm experienced in prosecuting medical negligence cases.

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