After a Knoxville car accident, victims and their loved ones may face an immeasurable amount of psychological, emotional, and financial harm. While recovery entails more than just financial compensation, monetary damages are often the first step to rebuilding after an accident. In Tennessee, the law allows for three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Damages refer to the money a liable person pays to an injury victim after an accident. These compensations are available through insurance settlements, negotiations, or trials. However, the type and amount of damages depend on various factors primarily, the circumstances surrounding the accident and the ensuing losses.
Under the law, economic damages refer to payments to a plaintiff to compensate them for quantifiable monetary losses. These damages typically include medical expenses, pay stubs, and repair bills. Non-economic or non-monetary damages often called general damages, include subjective losses that are harder to quantify. Common examples include pain and suffering damages, payments for emotional distress, and loss of companionship or consortium.
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to punish and deter the defendant. Courts rarely award these damages, and they are available in a narrow set of circumstances. Under Tennessee Statute § 29-39-104(a)(1) (2014), punitive damages are only applicable when a plaintiff establishes by “clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly.” The statute provides caps on the number of punitive damages a plaintiff can recover. However, there are certain exceptions to the cap, including;