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Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages in Tennessee?
Yes. Tennessee recently
joined a majority of U.S. states by passing a law that places a limit or “cap” on
the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive in a medical
malpractice case. The controversial effect of laws like this is that, when
a plaintiff proves that the defendant committed malpractice -- and a jury makes
the same finding -- the statute limits the actual amount of damages the
plaintiff can be awarded.
In Tennessee, non-economic
damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $750,000 per claim, and that limit also captures related claims
made by the injured patient’s family members. But the cap will increase to $1 million for non-economic damages
where the defendant’s medical malpractice causes “catastrophic” injury, such as
paralysis, amputation of multiple limbs, and certain instances of wrongful
So, your next question is
probably, “What are non-economic damages”?
In any injury case,
non-economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional
distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Non-economic damages are said to be
more “subjective” from plaintiff to plaintiff, and they’re not so easy to
capture with a dollar amount.
Economic damages, on the
other hand, typically consist of payment for past and future medical care, reimbursement
of lost income, compensation for lost earning capacity, and other financial
losses that can be attributed to the doctor or hospital error on which the malpractice lawsuit is based.
Tennessee does not cap economic damages in medical malpractice
cases, and that’s an important distinction to keep in mind. Learn more about Damages
in Medical Malpractice Cases.
by: David Goguen, J.D.
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