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By Timothy Tomasik & Patrick Grim

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the opinion in Coventry Health Care of Missouri, Inc. v. Nevils, one of the last Neil Gorsuch-less cases before the nation’s highest court. Writing for the majority, the Notorious RBG made it clear that when it comes to states prohibiting insurance companies from claiming the proceeds of personal injury settlements - federal law reigns supreme.

The Nevils case stemmed from a 2006 car accident, in which Jodie Nevils, a former federal employee, was injured. Per Nevil’s employment with the federal government, Nevils was enrolled in and insured under a Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) plan offered by Coventry Health Care of Missouri. Soon after filing suit, Nevils recovered a settlement award against the defendant driver. Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc., 418 S. W. 3d 451, 453 (Mo. 2014).

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By Timothy Tomasik

“Can I borrow your car?” is a phrase nearly every car owner has been asked at one time or another. While handing over the keys to a friend in need may seem like the courteous thing to do, it is important to remember that you are trusting the other driver to operate your car safely.  Tragically, this all-too-common courtesy can have drastic and life altering consequences for the owner when the driver borrowing the car is not properly qualified to operate it.

In the automobile context, the law governing owner liability in this scenario is called “negligent entrustment.” Negligent entrustment involves the lending of one person’s car to another when the lender knew or should have known that the borrowing driver was not qualified to use the vehicle.  Under these circumstances, the law imposes a duty not just on the driver borrowing the keys, but also on the owner.  Essentially, when the owner knew or should have known that the driver was not qualified to operate the car, the owner will be liable for the negligent acts of the trustee (driver) resulting in harm to others. Typically, whether the owner “knew” the driver was unqualified hinges on whether the owner was aware of multiple prior traffic offenses or vehicular crashes.

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By Daniel Kotin

In the broad category of transportation, school bus crashes are rare. Statistically speaking, there are far more car accidents and truck accidents than crashes involving school buses - the resulting injuries to pedestrians and occupants of passenger vehicles can often be as serious as those seen in trucking accidents. And like trucking accidents, there can be a number of responsible parties that must be identified.

Why Identify All Responsible Parties?

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By Robert Geimer

Use of popular sleep aids such as Ambien double the risk of car accidents according to researchers at the University of Washington.  In a recent study, drivers who used sleep aids ran about the same risk of crashing their vehicles as drunk drivers.  This startling finding should serve as a wake-up call – pardon the expression – for the increasing problem of impaired driving due to medication.

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