Compensatory Damages Definition Under Tennessee State Law

Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the victim or to make him whole to the greatest extent possible. If you have been injured in an accident in Tennessee, you can file a claim against the person who was at fault to recover your damages.

Tennessee’s compensatory damages definition includes two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include such things as medical expenses, lost wages, disability, and property damage. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

How do I prove my economic damages?

Since economic damages are based on economic loss—as opposed to a non-economic loss, like pain and suffering—providing evidence is a straightforward process. For example, if you want to prove the amount of your medical expenses, you produce your medical bills. To prove the amount of your lost wages, you produce your employer’s records. 

To determine the amount of your economic damages, you add up your economic losses. For example, if you were struck by a car while waiting to cross the street and your medical bills totaled $12,000 while you lost $500 in wages due to your injuries, your economic damages would be $12,500.

How do I prove my non-economic damages?

Proving non-economic damages is not as simple as proving economic damages, but there are some standard processes for presenting a claim. Your personal injury lawyer will start with the evidence of your economic damages in determining the appropriate amount of non-economic damages for your claim.

How does tort reform affect my damages in Tennessee?

Tennessee lawmakers have placed limits on non-economic damages, but these caps have faced legal challenges. The future of this “tort reform” in Tennessee is uncertain. Currently, there is a $750,000 limit on non-economic damages, unless there was “catastrophic loss or injury,” in which case the limit is raised to $1,000,000. Under certain circumstances, these limits do not apply to personal injury or wrongful death actions.

Are punitive damages a type of compensatory damages?

Punitive damages are not considered compensatory damages, as they are not intended to make the victim whole. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer. In order to receive punitive damages in Tennessee, you must prove that the person at fault acted intentionally, fraudulently, maliciously, or recklessly. There are many factors that must be considered in determining the amount of punitive damages under Tennessee law.

Can I get compensatory damages if I was partly at fault?

The amount of compensatory damages you are entitled to changes depending on the amount of your fault. Usually more than one person is at fault in causing an accident.

Tennessee uses modified comparative negligence to calculate damages in accident cases. The amount of your damages is reduced by the amount of your own negligence. If you were 50 percent or more at fault, you would get nothing for your damages.

For instance, using the pedestrian example above, if you were texting and walked right into the street without looking, you might be considered 90 percent at fault. In that situation, you would not receive any damages because your fault was greater than 50 percent.

If, on the other hand, the driver who hit you ran a red light and you were considered 40 percent at fault, with the driver considered 60 percent at fault, you could recover economic damages. Your original total of $12,500 in economic damages would be reduced by 40 percent for your own negligence, leaving you with $7,500. Since the driver was more than 50 percent at fault, he would not receive any damages.

If you have been injured in an accident, you need to speak with the Tennessee accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC. Call 865-546-1111 today for your free consultation.