In this post, our experienced team of Tennessee personal injury lawyers explains four things you need to know about Tennessee personal injury laws. We’ve also prepared a video on Tennessee personal injury laws, which you can watch here.
1. The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time period you have to bring your personal injury lawsuit. If your lawsuit is not filed within the statute of limitations, it will be thrown out of court. In most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations in Tennessee is one year. The limitations period begins to run from the date of the injury or the date you discover the injury. In most cases the date of the injury and the date of discovery are the same, but sometimes they can be different. Contact our Tennessee personal injury lawyers to learn more.
2. Caps on Damages
Tennessee limits, or “caps,” the amount of non-economic damages you can recover. In most cases that, cap is $750,000, but it can increase to $1,000,000 in certain “catastrophic” injury cases. These damages caps apply to “non-economic” injuries, including pain, suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and damages of that nature. Damages on economic losses, for example medical bills, lost profits, lost wages, and lost income, are not capped. There is also a cap on “punitive” damages, which are limited to the greater of $500,000 or twice the award of compensatory damages, whichever is higher.
3. Comparative Fault
Tennessee follows the doctrine of “comparative fault.” Comparative fault allows the jury to compare the negligence of the defendant who caused the injury with the negligence of the plaintiff in similarly causing the injury or failing to avoid the injury. Take the example of a “slip and fall” case at a grocery store. Say the plaintiff slips and falls on a wet floor with no warning signs. She may have a good premises liability case agains the store. But the store may try to defend by saying the plaintiff wasn’t watching where she was going, or she was on her phone, or wasn’t paying attention. A jury would have to assign percentages of fault to each party. If the jury found the store 80% at fault, then the plaintiff could recover only 80% of her awarded damages. Put another way, her recovery would be reduced by the percentage of her own fault–20% in this example. The trick with comparative fault in Tennessee is that the plaintiff must prove the defendant was more than 50% at fault. If it is a tie, if the jury finds the plaintiff 50% at fault, then the plaintiff recovers nothing. That is why having a good Tennessee personal injury lawyer is very important in your case.
4. Unanimous Jury
Some states allow jury verdicts to be less than unanimous. But in Tennessee, you need every juror to find in your favor in order for you to recover in a personal injury lawsuit. This makes recovering at trial very difficult, as you can’t afford even a single detractor to side with the defenses. Once again, this rule underscores the importance of hiring a skilled Tennessee personal injury attorney to handle your personal injury lawsuit.
We hope this overview of Tennessee personal injury laws has been helpful. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact our skilled personal injury attorneys today.