Accident victims can suffer immeasurable harm due to someone else’s negligence. Unfortunately, there are limits on how much victims or their families can recover in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
ARE THERE LIMITS ON DAMAGES AVAILABLE IN TENNESSEE PERSONAL INJURY AND WRONGFUL DEATH CASES?
Tennessee is among a growing number of states where the law places strict limits on the amount of money a person can recover for injuries, without regard to the unique facts or circumstances of each case. It is crucial that you have a knowledgeable Tennessee personal injury attorney on your side who understands these caps on damages and can fight to maximize your recovery after a catastrophic accident.
Contact the Law Office of David E. Gordon today to discuss your case and get answers to your legal questions. An initial consultation is free, and there is no charge for us to begin work on your claim. In fact, we only charge a fee if and when we recover money for you.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS ON DAMAGES IN TENNESSEE PERSONAL INJURY CASES?
The limits on damages in personal injury claims in Tennessee can be a bit complex. In general, the law places limits on both non-economic and punitive damages. However, in cases involving catastrophic injury, the damage caps are higher. The law does not limit the amount of economic damages a victim can recover.
The limits on damages in Tennessee are:
- Non-economic damages: $750,000 per person
- Non-economic damages in catastrophic injury cases: $1 million per person
- Punitive damages: $500,000 or 2 times the compensatory damages (whichever is greater)
To better understand what this means, it is helpful to understand the types of damages available in a personal injury case.
TYPES OF DAMAGES IN PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS
The following are two basic types of damages awarded in personal injury claims with the purpose of compensating victims:
Economic Damages. Economic damages can be clearly quantified, such as:
- Lost income
- Future lost income
- Medical bills
- Cost of adaptive housing
- Damage to personal property
- Value of a spouse’s household services
Non-Economic Damages. Something is considered non-economic if it is not readily quantifiable in terms of numbers. This could include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Psychological injuries
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In addition, there is a third type of damages that is awarded in extreme cases:
Punitive Damages. These rare but highly effective damages are awarded as a means to punish wrongdoers and deter future conduct. For large, billion-dollar corporations, for example, the financial punishment levied by awarding punitive damages to a victim is meant to show that reckless and dangerous actions will seriously affect their bottom lines. Punitive damages send a message and create heavy incentives to stop extremely negligent or reckless conduct.
HOW ARE CATASTROPHIC INJURIES DEFINED IN TENNESSEE?
The law defines the following specific injury types as “catastrophic,” thus elevating potential non-economic damages to $1 million:
- Loss of limb (amputations)
- Serious burns
- Wrongful death (if the decedent left minor children)
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS ON DAMAGES IN TENNESSEE WRONGFUL DEATH CASES?
Wrongful death is considered a catastrophic injury, meaning the limit on non-economic damages is $1 million per person, if the decedent left minor children. Otherwise, the typical damage caps apply.
ARE THERE EXCEPTIONS TO THESE CAPS ON DAMAGES?
Yes. There are several exceptions that apply to these damage caps.
For punitive damages, the following exceptions apply:
- Damages caused by intentional acts
- Cases involving destruction of records (attempts to conceal wrongdoing)
- When conduct occurred under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Again, since there is no cap on economic damages, costs related to the following are still unlimited, so long as they can be substantiated:
- Medical bills
- Lost earnings
- Lost future income potential
- Property damages
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Funeral expenses and burial costs
ARE THERE LIMITS WHEN THE STATE OF TENNESSEE IS THE DEFENDANT?
Yes. In most cases, damages are limited to just $300,000 per person with a max of $1 million per event when suing the State of Tennessee. There are some exceptions, though, and any case involving the state will be complicated. So it is important that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
CONSEQUENCES OF LIMITATIONS ON PERSONAL INJURY AWARDS IN TENNESSEE
Whether intended or not, one sad consequence of these damage caps is that some accident victims may never be truly compensated for the harm they have suffered, and juries do not get the final say in what a victim deserves. No matter how horrific or painful the injury and no matter how serious or long-term the damages, justice may be limited by the caps.
FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE FOR INJURED PEOPLE IN TENNESSEE
With more than 32 years of legal experience, David E. Gordon is a board-certified trial lawyer in Tennessee. Less than 2 percent of all attorneys in Tennessee share the distinction of being board certified.
So if you are facing the reality of a life-changing and devastating injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve to have aggressive and skilled representation. At the Law Office of David E. Gordon, we never charge a fee for an initial consultation, and we only get paid if we are able to recover monetary compensation for our clients. So contact us today to schedule your own consultation and find out if we can help you, too.