All injuries are not created equal. It’s no wonder then that the law treats minor injuries different from catastrophic injuries.
If you suffered a catastrophic injury, you may be able to recover additional damages to help you on your road to recovery. There are, however, some things you should keep in mind.
Without further delay, let’s take a look at catastrophic injuries and catastrophic injury claims in Tennessee.
The term “catastrophic injury” is a broad term typically used to describe any injury that leaves the victim with permanent damages. Common catastrophic injuries include:
In Tennessee, “catastrophic injury” also has a specific legal definition when used in the context of determining which damages cap applies to a personal injury lawsuit (more on this later). In this specific context, the term “catastrophic injury” includes the following injuries:
Tennesseans spent a total of roughly 3.7 million days in Tennessee hospitals in 2019. Though any accident can result in a catastrophic injury, there are certain accidents that are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries, such as:
A personal injury lawsuit is an option for you if someone else was “at fault” for your catastrophic injury. The terms “at fault” and “liability” refer to a negligent or intentional failure to act reasonably or according to a specific legal duty.
Let’s take a quick look at lawsuits based on negligence and lawsuits based on intentional acts:
When someone is careless and their carelessness causes an injury to another person, the person may be held liable under the legal principle of negligence.
To prove negligence in Tennessee, a plaintiff must establish that:
A catastrophic injury can be caused by an intentional act (sometimes called an intentional tort). The most obvious example is when someone commits battery or assault, but there are other intentional acts that may cause catastrophic injuries—including:
If you suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of a workplace accident, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that pays financial benefits to employees who are injured while performing their job duties. Most catastrophic injuries are covered so long as the injury occurred during the course of employment. What’s more, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries almost always mean catastrophic costs. Though most injuries result in medical expenses, catastrophic injuries often result in substantial long-term medical expenses. These expenses might include the cost of:
There’s also usually a lost income component to a catastrophic injury. For example, a professional ballet dancer who suffers a catastrophic spine injury will most likely lose income as a result of no longer being able to perform the job they performed prior to the injury.
When it comes to recovering damages for a catastrophic injury in Tennessee, there’s both good and bad news.
The good news is that Tennessee allows plaintiffs to recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages:
The bad news is that Tennessee places a damages cap (i.e., a limit to the amount you can receive in a lawsuit) on both non-economic damages and punitive damages.
Additionally, Tennessee places a cap on punitive damages in the amount of $500,000—or twice the amount of the compensatory damages awarded, whichever is greater.
Catastrophic injuries are traumatic. Research has long shown that strong support services are vital in recovering from a traumatic event. With that in mind, here are some resources for catastrophic injury victims in Tennessee: