Car accidents often lead to serious injuries and serious financial burdens. Medical expenses and property damage can easily add up in the aftermath of a car crash. For this reason, many individuals involved in car accidents choose to file lawsuits, either out of necessity, a desire to see some kind of justice for their situation, or any myriad of other reasons. Accordingly, plaintiffs may have questions about how much they are allowed to sue another party for in a Tennessee car accident lawsuit.
The answer, like many things in the legal world, is that it depends. Each case is unique, and each plaintiff will have different needs and desires. When you file a lawsuit, you ask for compensation based on your situation. Therefore, what one plaintiff can reasonably ask for in a lawsuit may be wildly different from what makes sense for another plaintiff.
For a free, no-obligation case review and analysis, call Howe Law’s Tennessee car accident lawyers at (844) 876-4357.
What Damages Can You Ask for in a Tennessee Car Accident Lawsuit?
When someone asks, “How much can I sue someone for?” what they are asking is how much they can request in damages in their lawsuit. Damages are court-compelled payments the defendant makes to the plaintiff after the plaintiff wins a personal injury lawsuit. While the vast majority of damages will be financial compensation, your damages may also include the defendant taking certain actions or doing certain things.
Your damages are based on your specific situation. When you ask for damages in a lawsuit, you are asking the court to compensate you for some wrong done to you by someone else. This means that what amount you ask for in damages will depend on the facts of your case and what you and our lawyers agree is a good amount to ask for in damages.
Explaining Damages in a Tennessee Car Accident Lawsuit
Damages are awarded to plaintiffs when the defendant is found liable by the jury in their lawsuit. The point of damages in a personal injury lawsuit is to “make the plaintiff whole” again. The idea is that the defendant’s actions put the plaintiff in a worse position than they were in prior to getting injured, so the defendant should be responsible for metaphorically getting them back on their feet.
Therefore, the damages you ask for are based on your situation and are broadly split into three main categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are based on things with readily ascertainable monetary value. Things like hospital bills, property damage to your vehicle, and lost wages from missed time at work will fall into this category. Your economic damages can usually be supported by things like medical records or bills from repair shops.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are a little harder to pin down. They are for things that don’t have a bill or receipt denoting their value. For example, while you may get economic damages for the setting of a broken arm, the pain management medication you had to take while recovering, and physical therapy classes, your non-economic damages would be for the actual pain and suffering you felt because of your broken arm. Since it is impossible to put a value on a claim like, “My broken arm hurt a lot,” you and our lawyers have to convince the court of its value, as well as the value of any other non-economic damages items.
Punitive damages are a special kind of damages not based on your condition. Instead, they are based on the conduct of the defendant. When you ask for punitive damages, you are alleging that the defendant has acted particularly badly and you are owed something more than the previously discussed “compensatory damages.”
There are special requirements for being able to get punitive damages in Tennessee. Per T.C.A. § 29-39-104, you need to prove that the defendant acted with more than mere negligence. Specifically, the defendant must have acted maliciously, fraudulently, intentionally, or recklessly in order to be held liable for punitive damages. If you believe that this is the case in your lawsuit, you should discuss it with our Nashville car accident lawyers.
Calculating Damages in a Tennessee Car Accident Lawsuit
When you file your lawsuit, you ask for a specific amount of damages. Therefore, you and our lawyers have to come up with an amount that makes sense for your case. It may be tempting to ask for an exorbitant amount of money, but asking for too much (or too little) in damages may harm your case.
While there is no required way to calculate damages, the two most commonly used methods are the multiple method and the “per diem” method.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method uses your economic damages to calculate your non-economic damages. How this works is that you take your economic damages and multiply them by a given amount to get non-economic damages. For example, if you had $100,000 in economic damages and wanted to multiply it by 3, you would have $300,000 in non-economic damages for a total of $400,000 in compensatory damages. This method is most used when a plaintiff’s injuries are expected to take a long time to recover from or are permanent.
The “Per Diem” Method
The “per diem” method, on the other hand, calculates your damages by the day. This method comes up with a “daily pain amount” that is used to calculate your non-economic damages. The per diem method is usually preferred for injuries that are expected to heal fully in the short term.
Talk to Our Tennessee Car Accident Lawyers Today
Howe Law has Murfreesboro, TN car accident attorneys ready to take your calls and talk about your case when you reach out to us at (844) 876-4357.