Being involved in a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Whether you are sitting still at a red light and get rear-ended, riding on a bus that crashes into another car, or clipped by a car while riding a bicycle, the potential for immediate pain is always there. Many car accident victims in Tennessee require medical assistance at the scene of the crash before being transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance. Severely injured victims may be airlifted. Others will try to deal with the pain on their own before choosing to seek treatment within the next few days. This will likely leave you wondering what exactly you may be entitled to under the law.
An accident can place a victim in a bind. With the cost of medical treatment in the United States continuing to rise, many people simply cannot afford unplanned expenses like these. It becomes even more difficult if the wreck renders the victim unable to work due to constant physical pain. A sudden lack of transportation is another issue altogether. If you were injured in a car accident, you are not alone in wondering about your rights under Tennessee law. Below are elements of damages that may apply to your case:
- Property damage – If your vehicle was involved in the accident, your vehicle will either be deemed repairable or a total loss. If total loss, the law states you are entitled to fair market value (FMV) at the time of the accident. Other out of pocket expenses can be recovered, such as rental car fees, towing, storage, and damaged personal items.
- Medical bills – This is an obvious category of damages. If an accident causes you to suffer physical or emotional injuries, you may recover the cost of seeking medical treatment, provided those costs are reasonable and necessary. Common forms of medical bills will include bills for ambulance, emergency room, radiology, pathology, physical therapy, primary care physician, and other forms of treatment. Victims with permanent injuries may require treatment for the rest of their lives. Should this be the case, future medical bills can be obtained, but a doctor will likely need to testify to their reasonableness and necessity as part of the plaintiff’s burden of proving causation.
- Lost wages – Related to the concept of recovering medical bills is recovering lost wages for time missed from work. Documentation must be submitted, and common examples include a letter from your employer or prior tax returns if you are self-employed. Medical documentation will go a long way as well. Similar to the above example, future lost wages can be obtained for someone who suffered permanent physical impairment from an injury like paralysis. If the victim can work again but at a lesser-paying job, diminished earning capacity can be attained.
- Pain and suffering – This can be the most disputed class of damages. The examples above would be classified as economic damages since they have a set monetary value. Pain and suffering, on the other hand, is known as a non-economic loss since it is more subjective in nature. Numerous factors will come into play including the victim’s age, hobbies, family situation, and more. To bolster this aspect of your case, it may be necessary for close friends, relatives, or co-workers to testify as to how the accident affected you and activities of daily life.
- Punitive damages – Unlike the compensatory damages described above, punitive damages are not designed to make the victim whole. Instead, they are designed to punish a defendant for particularly egregious conduct like reckless driving or drunk driving. In Tennessee, punitive damages are governed by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-39-104 and can be awarded upon proof that a defendant acted “maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly.” Thus, punitive damages will not apply to every case.
In Tennessee, Shelby and Davidson Counties frequently see the most car accidents each year. However, wrecks occur state-wide each and every day. To speak with a Tennessee car accident attorney, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz. We employ a dedicated team of more than 30 lawyers and over 120 support staff members, making us the largest plaintiff’s personal injury law firm based in Tennessee. We can be reached 24/7 for a free consultation by calling 800-529-4004 or completing our online form. NST is the way to go.