Does Tennessee Have Damages Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases?
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Mistakes and errors made by health care providers can have deadly results. Bad results for a patient do not always mean malpractice was the cause of the result. However, if a health care provider breached the duty of care owed to the patient, the provider might be liable for the damages caused by the malpractice. Once a Nashville medical malpractice attorney assists you in proving your injuries were caused by medical malpractice, the next step is proving your damages to recover compensation for your injuries.
What Damages Can A Person Claim?
Victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to compensation for a variety of damages. Some damages are considered financial or “economic damages”. These damages are your actual out-of-pocket financial losses related to medical malpractice. Other damages that do not have a specific monetary value are considered “non-economic damages”.
Examples of financial or economic damages include:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Income
- Physical, occupation, and rehabilitative therapy
- Loss of future earnings or a decrease in earning capacity
- Personal care for long-term disability
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Impairment and permanent disability
- Loss of Consortium
Punitive damages are special damages awarded only in cases involving extreme or egregious wrongdoing, such as cases involving fraudulent, intentional, malicious, or reckless actions. These damages are intended to “punish” the person guilty of the wrongdoing and discourage others from committing the same wrongdoing in the future. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases, including medical malpractice.
What Are The Damage Caps For Medical Malpractice Claims?
Tennessee does not place a cap on financial or economic damages in a medical malpractice claim. Therefore, if you are injured because of medical malpractice, the law allows you to seek full compensation for all financial losses related to the medical malpractice. However, there is a cap for the number of damages you may receive for non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages encompass your physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering. It also includes your spouse’s claim for loss of consortium. Damages for non-economic damages in a medical malpractice claim is capped at $750,000.
However, there is an exception for certain types of injuries. A catastrophic injury victim may receive up to $1 million in non-economic damages. Examples of catastrophic injuries include spinal cord injuries that result in paralysis, amputation two hands or feet (or one of both), third-degree burns covering 40 percent or more of the face or body; and, wrongful death of the parent of a minor child.
The current statutory cap on non-economic damages in Tennessee is currently the subject of at least one case upon appeal, and that future appellate decision may lead to the end of this cap.
In the meantime, there are also exceptions in certain cases to the current cap in Tennessee on non-economic damages. The state does not impose caps on non-economic damages when:
- The healthcare provider intentionally attempted to cause serious physical injury;
- The healthcare provider was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the malpractice was committed; or,
- The healthcare provider destroyed, falsified, or concealed relevant records (this occurs more often than people expect).
In rare cases in which punitive damages are awarded, the statutory cap on punitive damages is $500,000 or two times the amount awarded for compensatory damages, whichever amount is greater. However, a federal appeals court recently held that Tennessee’s cap on punitive damages is unconstitutional.
Contact A Tennessee Medical Malpractice Attorney
A medical malpractice victim often suffers additional injuries, or their condition grows much worse because of a medical provider’s negligence and wrongdoing. If you are injured because of a doctor’s malpractice, you deserve to be compensated fully for your damages.
Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Cummings Law today. Our Tennessee medical malpractice attorneys can help you seek the maximum compensation available for your claim. People who retain the right attorney receive up to 3x more compensation than those who do not.