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New Tennessee Law Provides Protection from Personal Liability for Certain Volunteer Drivers

Posted on Jul 18 2015 3:50PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The Tennessee legislature passed a new law that provides protections for volunteer drivers in Tennessee.  Specifically, Public Chapter No. 152 was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on April 16, 2015.  This law is called the “Protection of Volunteer – Insured Drivers of the Elderly (PROVIDE) Act.”  This law can certainly have an impact on certain automobile accident cases.  Specifically, this law provides that volunteer drivers who provide transportation for senior citizens through a charitable organization or human service agency cannot be found individually liable for any civil damages beyond the insurance policy limits collectible for the accident. 


This new law protects the at fault driver as long as their fault consists of simple negligence.  However, it is important to note that this statute does not provide this limited immunity when the conduct of the voluntary driver constitutes gross negligence, or willful and wanton misconduct.  Additionally, the human services agency or charitable organization must maintain liability insurance coverage at least equal to the minimum limits set forth in T.C.A. § 29-20-403 of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (which provides for minimum policy limits of $300,000.00/$700,000.00).


This new statute takes effect for actions that arise on or after July 1, 2015.  The entire statute provides as follows:


(a) As used in this section:

(1) "Charitable organization" means any charitable unit of a religious or civic group exempt from taxation under 26 U.S.C. § 501, including those supported wholly or partially by private donations;

(2) "Human service agency" means any human service unit, clinic, senior citizens program, congregate meal center, or day care center for the elderly, whether supported wholly or partially by public funds;

(3) "Volunteer" means an individual providing volunteer transportation who may receive reimbursement for actual expenses or an allowance to defray expenses of operating the vehicle used to provide transportation services, but does not receive compensation for the person's time; and

(4) "Volunteer tr...

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TAGS: Damages, Automobile/Motorcycle Liability, 2015 Tennessee Legislation, Immunity Comments [0]

Does Four Year Statute of Repose in T.C.A. § 28-3-202 Bar Tennessee Construction Defect Claims When Project is Not Complete?

Posted on Jul 5 2015 2:42PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals decision of Keith Gillis v. Covenant Health, 2015 WL 3563034 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2015) discussed the four year statute of repose found in T.C.A. § 28-3-202 for construction defect claims.  This statute of repose is a very good way to defeat many construction defect claims in Tennessee.  This particular case dealt with a situation where a radiology facility at Methodist Hospital was allegedly defectively constructed.  Specifically, the walls around the radiology facilities required a certain amount of lead shielding but there was a portion of the walls that did not contain the necessary lead shield to protect individuals from exposure to excessive radiation.  As a result, plaintiffs claimed they were exposed to excessive radiation and therefore they sued the construction company that failed to put in the necessary lead shielding.


Tennessee law is clear that we have a four year statute of repose that bars claims for construction defect cases filed greater than four years from the date of substantial completion (with certain exceptions).  The entire statute found in T.C.A. § 28-3-202 is as follows:


All actions to recover damages for any deficiency in the design, planning, supervision, observation of construction, or construction of an improvement to real property, for injury to property, real or personal, arising out of any such deficiency, or for injury to the person or for wrongful death arising out of any such deficiency, shall be brought against any person performing or furnishing the design, planning, supervision, observation of construction, construction of, or land surveying in connection with, such an improvement within four (4) years after substantial completion of such an improvement.


The question therefore, in many cases, centers around how to determine the date of “substantial completion.”  T.C.A. § 28-3-201(2) defines substantial completion as follows:


(2) “Substantial completion” means that degree of completion of a project, improvement, or a specified area or portion thereof (in accordance with the contract documents, as modified by any change orders agreed to by the parties) upon attainment of which the owner can use the same for the purpose for which it was intended; the date of substantial completion may be established by written agreement between the contractor and the owner.

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TAGS: Construction Law, Statute of Repose Comments [0]

Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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Tennessee Defense Litigation Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
611 Commerce Street, Suite 2603
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com