May 18

Tribal Law Creates Twist in Personal Injury Case

The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled to overturn a decision made by a trail judge regarding a lawsuit filed against a Mohegan Sun limousine driver. Like many tribal nations, the Mohegan tribe enjoys being a sovereign nation which creates immunity in many civil legal claims. Where things become tangled is when the lawsuits aren’t targeted at a casino or tribal business, but rather at a specific employee.


This particular case involved limo driver William Clarke. In October of 2011 he was hired to drive a pair of couples from the tribal casino to their home in Greenwhich. While he was driving, Clarke failed to notice that the traffic ahead of him had backed up until he rear-ended a car that was being driven by Brian Lewis.

According the police reports, the force of the impact was so great, Lewis’s car was forced up and over the barrier. While it was suspended, something ruptured, and the vehicle caught fire. Both Lewis and his wife were injured and accumulated $75,000 worth of medical bills as a direct result of the accident.

The Lewis’s weren’t the only injured parties. One of the passengers in Clarke’s limo suffered a back injury that required medical treatment, while some of the other limo passengers reported minor injuries.

The Lewis’s choose to file a civil suit against Clarke, but rather than go through tribal court, they decided to see how things would fair if they went through the state court system instead. They hoped that by going through the state courts they would be able to sue Clarke personally. The tribe tried to get the case dismissed, claiming sovereignty, but were unsuccessful in state court, which is why they took the case to the Supreme Court were they won.

Personal Injury Claim Form with pen, calculator

John Bales personal injury attorney will tell you that a case like the one Lewis’s filed against Clarke can quickly become complicated. They’ll also tell you that when Native Americans and tribal court enter into the picture things get even stranger.

The rules surrounding tribal law and personal injury cases are different than in regular state or district court. According to Tribal Court laws, the driver can’t be sued for their actions, the lawsuit has to be filed against their employers. The statute of limitation for these cases is just one year, which doesn’t give the personal injury attorney much time to get the case put together. The amount of any potential settlement is capped and the case won’t be heard before a jury.

According to information released by the National Center for Health Statistics, 31 million people will be injured severely enough to warrant medical attention and nearly 2 million will require a period of hospitalization. A large portion of these individuals will have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

personal-injury-attorneyWhether you were involved in an accident connected to a Native American tribe or not, if you feel you have a personal injury case, the single best thing you can do is contact a John Bales Attorneys right away.  They will provide you with sound legal advice and make sure your rights aren’t violated. Don’t assume that just because you filed a personal injury suit, that you will be going to court More than 90% of case are settled before the pre-trial.



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