Recovering Damages in a Tennessee Car Accident

Some states, including Tennessee, have a limitation on the amount of money a person can recover. In Tennessee, the cap for non-economic damages is $750,000, which is the most a persona can recover for pain and suffering.

For economic damages, there is no cap on recovery in a Tennessee car accident case. The law wants an individual to be made whole again, and in doing so they should be entitled to recover any sort of economic damage they have suffered.

To determine the recoverable damages you may be entitled to after a Tennessee car accident, it is imperative that you consult with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. An experienced car accident lawyer in Tennessee can build a claim to help produce a successful recovery on your behalf.

Bypassing the Damage Cap

For non-economic damages, there are some methods an attorney can employ to be able to get around the damage cap. One way a person can get around the cap is if the defendant had a specific intent to inflict this serious physical injury.

Also, the individual may be able to get around the cap if the defendant intentionally falsifies, destroys, or conceals any records or material evidence to help them get away with what they did.

If there is evidence that the defendant did something wrong and they try to hide it or destroy it, they are going to lose the protection of that cap. If the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or some other type of stimulant and was substantially impaired and that caused the injury or death, then that cap will be removed.

The final clause is if the defendant is convicted of a felony because of the incident that caused the injuries or damages, then the cap will be removed.

Gathering Evidence

From the start, the attorney plays an important role in recovering damages in a Tennessee car accident case. They can help get the case together and secure the evidence as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to put together the story, what exactly happened, and why it was the defendant’s fault.

Gathering evidence, securing witness statements, photographs, phone records, and similar elements can help an individual recover damages in their Tennessee car accident cases.

Determining a Settlement Package

The second step after retaining legal representation is to find out where money can be recovered from, what insurance policies apply to help the client to be made whole again, and get all the evidence or the documentation to support the damages the client sustained and send that in a package to the insurance company. This is called a settlement package or a demand package.

This package details the settlement that the injured individual believes is fair. An experienced attorney is usually going to work that case out with the insurance company overnight, but if they do not, then the case will go to court.

At that point, it is imperative to get that case ready for trial, gather the experts, and get the client prepared. At this point, to recover the necessary damages in a Tennessee car accident case, a person will go through a jury trial and sometimes, all the way up to appeal after that if necessary.

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages

The first stage of any trial is a jury determining how much economic and non-economic damages are deserved or should be awarded to the client. Once they do that, the jury will determine if punitive damages may also be awarded. If they agree they do, there will be a second stage of the trial.

Punitive Damages

During that second stage, the jury is deciding punitive damages. It is often based on some multiple of the initial economic and non-economic damages. That is a factor, and usually depends on how wealthy the defendant is. The jury is not looking to bankrupt an individual through punitive damages, but to award enough so that it is a significant loss.

Determining the Amount

Compensatory damages for economic elements are specific. Non-economic damages and punitive damages are similar in that they are hard to put a number on.

A lawyer can tell an individual how much the item in question is worth, but it is tricky to put a value on pain and suffering. What is fair to punish somebody can be a little more difficult for juries to put an exact number on, which is why an individual needs a lawyer to help suggest what would be a reasonable number and why.

Importance of Legal Representation

The most important thing a person must do when recovering damages in a Tennessee car accident case is to make sure that they get the proper documentation that may exist about the accident or the injuries sustained. This is usually in the form of medical records and medical bills.

The other thing to help recover damages after a car accident case in Tennessee is to use expert witnesses that may be necessary. For instance, in many cases, vocational disability experts or an economic expert can testify if the client is going to have a diminished ability to earn a living or that they are going to lose a lot of wages in the future. An economic expert can come in and testify how much that is in a present-day dollar figure and how much money the client will lose.