Is There a Cap on Damages for Wrongful Death in Tennessee? | How Much Can Victims Get?
Filing a wrongful death claim is a great way for families to get compensated for the deceased of a loved one. Depending on the case, claimants can use that money to cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
Each case is unique, though. Not everyone will get maximum compensation for their case.
All Tennessee personal injury cases have certain rules or "limits" to consider. Even though this state is flexible with accident victims and their compensation, some cases will have a "cap" on how much money they can get.
Here's an overview of what Tennessee's damage caps for wrongful death cases are.
What's a "Damage Cap"?
A damage cap refers to the amount of economic or non-economic damages that someone can get in a case. In other words, there are limits to how much money victims can get from a wrongful death or personal injury case. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys will answer questions such as How long do you have to file wrongful death in Tennessee?
Each state in the U.S. has its own set of damage caps surrounding wrongful death claims, so it's important to talk to a lawyer to come up with a realistic evaluation of the claim.
What Damages Can Someone Recover from a Wrongful Death Claim?
The Tennessee Supreme Court doesn't have any limits or "damage caps" for economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Economic damages include any financial losses that the deceased's family experienced due to the accident, which can be:
Loss of earning capacity
Things get more complicated when talking about non-economic damages or "pain and suffering," though. Unlike economic damages, non-economic ones refer to the emotional/psychological consequences of an accident. These aren't "quantifiable," so they're often harder to calculate.
In Tennessee, non-economic damages are capped at $750,000 per person. On the other hand, cases involving a catastrophic injury have a higher limit of $1 million per person.
There's a third scenario involving punitive damages. These are damages awarded on top of the aforementioned ones and are meant to punish the guilty party instead of covering the claimant's losses.
Regarding punitive damages, there's a damage cap of $500,000. The limit could also be equal to two times the compensatory damages (whichever is greater).
What Factors Affect How Much Someone Can Get from Wrongful Death Claims?
There are many factors to evaluate in any wrongful death action. The slightest detail could be used by a lawyer to ensure the families get more money in compensation.
Some common factors that affect compensatory damages include:
The person's age, income, training, and education
The amount of medical expenses
The person's contribution to household services
There's also the "catastrophic injury" factor that can raise non-economic damages from $750k to $1 million. An example of this case is if the case involves a surviving minor child of the victim. Other cases include third-degree burns, amputations, and quadriplegia.
Tennessee also uses a "comparative negligence rule," which states that the victim will get compensated according to their percentage of fault. If the court determines that the person's death was partially caused by themselves, they could get less money in the settlement.
Are There Any Exceptions to Damage Caps in Wrongful Death Cases?
The limit on non-economic damages doesn't apply if the at-fault party caused the victim's death on purpose or was under the influence of drugs/alcohol when the accident happened. It also doesn't apply if they tried to destroy evidence.
How to Know If a Victim Has a Solid Case to File
Wrongful death claims aren't easy to navigate. A lack of legal experience can seriously affect the compensation surviving family members get in the end.
The best way to know if the family has a proper case is to talk to a lawyer. Attorneys at Schuerger Shunnarah, for example, have experience with wrongful death cases, meaning they can quickly determine if the victims can get compensated fairly considering their circumstances. They can explain what wrongful death is.
If there's a case to file, the lawyer will start gathering any evidence that may help them later, including medical records, police reports, and more. Once they're done, they'll file the case and represent the victims in any negotiations or legal proceedings.
Some cases settle outside of court. This can happen if both the lawyer and the other party can agree on an appropriate settlement. If this isn't the case, the lawyer will represent the surviving family members in court to get them maximum compensation.
About Tennessee's State of Limitations
Tennessee also has a "time cap" for wrongful death claims. In most cases, victims only have a year to file their case. This period starts as soon as the family learns the cause of their loved one's death.
There are some exceptions to this rule, though, so it's important to talk to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to determine the best time to file a case and ensure maximum compensation.
Failing to meet this deadline will likely get the case dismissed.
Death isn't something that can be fixed with money, so there may never be a "good" compensation amount for families. However, proper compensation ensures that the deceased's family doesn't have to deal with out-of-pocket expenses related to their death, allowing them to focus on their grief instead of money.
Lawyers take care of the entire legal process, so victims don't have to. As long as everyone cooperates with the case, family members will be able to get justice.
Tennessee law gives claimants many options when filing a wrongful death/personal injury lawsuit. Whether the person is suing for economic or non-economic damages (or both), the best way to ensure a good outcome is to talk to a legal expert.
Wrongful death is already a devastating case to go through. There's no need to be dealing with financial burdens because of someone else's negligence too.
The professionals at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have years of experience in the personal injury field. Anyone who wants to seek justice for any pain and suffering that the loss of a loved one caused can schedule a free case evaluation.