When a person is seriously injured, their whole family can be changed forever. The costs of medical care and rehabilitation can be crushing. At the same time, the family is left without the injured person’s income, support and companionship. In cases of serious injury, these losses continue for the rest of the lives of everyone in the family.
In legal terms, these losses are known as damages. When these damages come as the result of an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, the injured can recover compensation through a personal injury claim. In these cases, it’s crucial that the injured and their families calculate the full amount of the damages they have suffered, and will continue to suffer, as a result of the injury. If they settle for the first offer from an insurance company, they may later find that the amount they received was nowhere near what they need and deserve.
Tennessee law recognizes two main types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit. The first is known as special, or economic damages. This category includes damages such as medical expenses and lost wages. It’s important to remember that economic damages include not just the medical expenses the family has already paid, but all the future medical expenses they will likely have to pay related to the injury. A skilled personal injury attorney can help them estimate the amount they will pay in the future by comparing their case to cases involving similar injuries.
A similar principle applies to lost wages. To be adequately compensated, the injured person needs more than just the amount of money they lost between the day of the accident and the day they filed the lawsuit. They need to be compensated for future loss of income. If their injury means they can no longer do the type of work they used to do, and now have to work in a lower-paying position, they should be compensated for this loss in income. If their accident left them permanently disabled, they deserve to be compensated for amount of income they expected to receive over the rest of their career.
The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to compensate the injured for everything they lost as a result of the injury, and that means more than just medical bills and lost income. Non-economic damages can include pain, emotional distress, loss of companionship and other intangible losses. It can be hard to set a dollar figure to these things, but anyone who has experienced these losses knows they are very real.
Calculating non-economic damages can be tricky. An experienced personal injury attorney can help the injured and their families reach a dollar figure for these damages by reviewing similar cases and interviewing experts in relevant professions.
Tennessee law places a $750,000 cap on non-economic damages in most cases. However, people who have suffered catastrophic injury can recover up to $1 million.
In some cases where the defendant’s behavior was malicious, a court may increase the amount the defendant recovers by ordering punitive damages. As the name suggests, these are meant to punish the defendant for especially bad behavior.
The injured and their families are going through a lot in the aftermath of an accident. They are under stress, experiencing pain and financial shock. It can be all too easy for an insurance company to pressure them into accepting an offer that falls short of what they need to cope with a life-changing injury. A personal injury lawyer can stand up for their interests and fight for what they deserve.