If you have been hurt in an accident which was not your fault and can identify who or what caused your injuries you may be aware that you have a good chance of claiming compensation. It is easier if the at-fault party is insured. This is almost always the case if you were injured on commercial or government owned property, e.g. a shopping mall or a government building or parking lot. Property owners that allow access to the public take out premises liability insurance to cover them if their negligence causes an injury. It is also almost always the case if you were involved in a vehicle accident, as drivers must have third party insurance in Tennessee as in other states to cover them if their driving causes an injury to someone else.
Two categories of damages
When preparing a claim for compensation, the amounts claimed are divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic. The economic damages are those that can easily be identified and quantified, such as the cost of medical treatment, the value of any property that was damaged and compensation for lost earnings. These amounts are usually easy to document with things like invoices and bills that you have either had to pay or are obliged to pay. It can be more difficult when the injuries are going to take longer to deal with. as it then involves making an estimate of future economic damages.
It is important to use a personal injury attorney to help you prepare an estimate of any future damages of this type. Accuracy is important, partly to convince the insurer that your claim is justified and partly because you will in all likelihood really need the money.
Non-economic damages defined
The second category of damages, the ‘non-economic’ type is more difficult to quantify. It includes compensation for such things as:
- physical pain;
- emotional suffering, worry and trauma;
- loss of enjoyment of life;
- loss of companionship and consortium.
Working out what to claim for non-economic damages
Most accidents will involve at least some of the damages listed above and some injuries will involve more than others. It is often easier to acknowledge that you experienced shock and worry after an accident, just as an example, but much more difficult to actually put a dollar value on what you should claim in compensation. This is where attorneys come in particularly useful as they will have dealt with many cases like yours before and will have a way of working out what your injury is worth in terms of non-economic damages. Each case, of course, is unique, and there is no absolutely hard and fast way of assessing non-economic damage amounts.
Some attorneys prefer to use a method called the ‘multiplier’ method. This uses a whole figure multiple of the amount claimed in economic damages. The figure depends on the particular circumstances. For example, if someone has calculated their economic components as $5,000, then the attorney may use a multiple of 3 to assess the total non-economic damages. This may be the basis of a successful negotiation with the insurer, or it may be challenged if it is thought to be excessive.
Other attorneys use a ‘per diem’ method. This is set at a daily figure for non economic damages and multiplied by the number of days that the person’s injury tales to heal or recover.
In Tennessee, there is a cap on non-economic damages set at $750,000. The cap may be extended to $1,000,000 if the injuries were of a catastrophic nature. The cap is canceled if the defendant’s actions resulted in a criminal conviction, or were deliberate in intent to harm, or there was an attempt to conceal or destroy evidence.
Degree of fault taken into consideration
Damages of any kind are not awarded in Tennessee if the plaintiff was determined to be 50% or more at fault for their own injuries. This is known as contributory negligence. If the plaintiff was 49% or less at fault, then he / she may be eligible to receive a percentage in line with their percentage fault of the amount claimed, economic and non-economic.
If you have been injured in an accident for which you were not at fault, you should contact experienced Nashville personal injury attorney, Keith Williams, who can provide advice and negotiate a claim on your behalf. Contact the Keith Williams Law Group at (615) 313-3999.