Vehicles involved in car accident | The Haynes Firm Tennessee personal injury lawyers

How Damages Are Calculated in Tennessee Car Accidents

April 17, 2023

A Tennessee car accident lawyer will take multiple factors into account when assessing the damages in your case. You may be entitled to significant compensation after a crash. However, obtaining the recovery you deserve requires a comprehensive evaluation of your claim.

In Tennessee, there are two primary types of damages that can be recovered for injuries sustained in a car accident: economic damages and non-economic damages. The Haynes Firm has extensive experience advocating for those who have been injured in motor vehicle collisions through no fault of their own.

Call The Haynes Firm at 423-928-0165 today for a FREE evaluation with a Tennessee car accident lawyer. Or you can keep reading to learn what compensation you may be entitled to following a crash:

Economic Damages

Economic damages consist of the quantifiable financial losses suffered as a result of a personal injury. They include your out-of-pocket expenses to date, as well as the costs you will face in the future.

Common examples of economic damages that may be recovered in a car crash claim include:

  • Medical expenses: You may be entitled to compensation for the cost of ambulance services, emergency room care, surgery, hospital stays, prescription medications, physical therapy, and more. In addition, your attorney will often consult with your doctors to understand your future medical needs and calculate the financial support needed to pay for ongoing treatment.
  • Lost wages: If you are unable to work following the accident, you can pursue recovery of the income you have lost. The same is true if you are eventually able to return to work but you can’t do the same job or work at the same capacity as before.
  • Property damage: Any damage to your personal property is compensable. This includes your vehicle, as well as other items that were damaged or destroyed (such as a cell phone).
  • Loss of earning capacity: Your injuries may permanently limit your ability to work or prevent you from working entirely. In either of these cases, it is crucial to claim compensation for the loss of future income (known as loss of earning capacity).
  • Out-of-pocket expenses: Any other monetary losses you suffer as a result of the crash (such as the cost of traveling for medical care, assistive devices, home and vehicle modifications, etc.) may also be compensable.

People often believe that they are only entitled to recovery of their medical expenses following a motor vehicle collision. As you can see, that is not the case. Your Tennessee car accident lawyer will add up all of the expenses to date and calculate any future losses to account for all of the economic damages in your claim.

Non-Economic Damages

The aftermath of a car crash isn’t limited to the effect on your finances; there are also a number of adverse physical, mental, and emotional impacts to consider. Victims need to be aware of their right to recovery of these losses (known as non-economic damages) as well.

Although they are known in legal circles as “non-economic damages,” a better description of these losses would be “intangible damages.” Ultimately, the intangible damages you may be entitled to in your car accident claim may include:

  • Pain and suffering: This refers to compensation for the physical pain you experience from the injuries you sustain in the collision. Compensation may be recovered for current and future pain and suffering. 
  • Emotional trauma: If you experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, or other psychological issues following the crash, you may be entitled to compensation for emotional anguish.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: Your injuries from the accident may deprive you of the ability to enjoy and participate in the activities that you find fulfilling. Damages for the loss of enjoyment of life may be obtained in this situation.
  • Loss of consortium: The spouse of someone who is injured or dies due to the negligence of another can claim damages for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is a broad term for the damages related to the adverse effects on a spousal relationship, from the loss of companionship to household services to sexual relations.

Just because intangible damages do not involve actual monetary losses does not make them any less “real.” A Tennessee car accident lawyer will assess all of the ways the crash has affected your life to ensure that your claim includes all available non-economic damages.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Tennessee?

Multiple factors will need to be considered to arrive at an accurate value for pain and suffering damages. These include:

  • The nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injury
  • How long the injury is expected to affect their life
  • Current and upcoming treatment needs
  • Permanent impairment or complications (if any)
  • The plaintiff’s education, training, and work qualifications prior to the accident
  • Leisure activities the plaintiff enjoyed
  • Family relationships and duties (e.g., Was the plaintiff married? Did he or she have children?)

Expert witness testimony can help your attorney quantify these and other losses. Family members, friends, and other people in your life can testify as to the day-to-day effects of your injuries.

It is important to note that Tennessee caps non-economic damages in personal injury claims. Plaintiffs are generally limited to $750,000 for pain and suffering and other intangible losses, although up to $1 million in non-economic damages may be recovered in the event of a catastrophic injury:

  • Quadriplegia or paraplegia resulting from a spinal cord injury
  • The loss of both hands, both feet, or one hand and one foot
  • Third-degree burns covering 40% or more of the body
  • Third-degree burns covering 40% or more of the face
  • Wrongful death of a parent to a minor child or minor children

Punitive Damages

One final category of damages may vainly be obtained in personal injury claims. The court may award a plaintiff punitive damages if it determined that the injury occurred because one or more defendants engaged in egregious conduct.

Punitive damages awards in Tennessee are not common because the threshold to qualify for them is intentionally high:

“Punitive damages may only be awarded if the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant against whom punitive damages are sought acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently or recklessly”

Tennessee Code § 29-39-104(a)(1)

If the court determines that the plaintiff has met the burden of proof, punitive damages will be limited to either $500,000 or double the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff—whichever is greater. A car crash attorney can determine if the defendant “acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently or recklessly” and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

How a Tennessee Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

Calculating the full extent of damages in your case is difficult to do on your own. You should be focusing on your health and recovery after the crash, not poring over bills and receipts.

It is in your best interest to have a Tennessee car accident lawyer evaluate the evidence and calculate damages on your behalf. Evidence that can support a claim for damages includes:

  • Your medical records
  • Testimony from your doctors and other medical professionals
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • The official crash report
  • Paystubs, tax returns, and communications with your employer
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Your account of your day-to-day life, including your pain levels, physical limitations, emotional difficulties, etc.
  • Testimony from loved ones

The insurance company will likely offer to settle your case for less than it’s worth. Your lawyer, meanwhile, will account for and pursue all damages to which you are entitled.

Contact a Tennessee Car Accident Lawyer Today

At The Haynes Firm, we know how the injuries from a car crash can affect you and your family. We make it our mission to recover all of the compensation you deserve so you can move forward with your life.

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Our attorneys serve good people who have been hurt through no fault of their own. We calculate all compensable damages in your claim, represent you in settlement negotiations, and, if necessary, take your case to trial. You can count on us never to leave money on the table.

For a FREE evaluation, contact The Haynes Firm today. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Johnson City and other areas of Tennessee.

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