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 death.
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.