- posted: Feb. 28, 2023
- Personal Injury
Major automobile collisions and other disastrous events can leave injured victims with long-term and potentially life-altering medical problems and disabilities, with resulting loss of ability to work, a lowered quality of life and even a reduced life expectancy. These are called catastrophic injuries, and they are compensable at much higher levels in order to achieve justice for the victim. However, these legal cases are usually very complex and expensive to litigate.
Tennessee law defines “catastrophic loss or injury” as any one of the following:
- Spinal cord damage resulting in paralysis (paraplegia or quadriplegia)
- Amputation of both hands, both feet, or one of each
- Third degree burns over 40 percent or more of the body or 40 percent or more of the face
- Wrongful death of a parent of a minor child
In addition to these specifically listed injuries, an injury may be considered catastrophic if it will prevent the victim from financially supporting themselves in the future or if the victim is incapacitated. For example, someone who suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may lose the ability to communicate or make decisions.
A catastrophic injury often prevents victims from returning to a normal life. They may have continuing needs such as:
- Multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation therapy
- Live-in care or other special assistance
- Prosthetic implants and medical assistance devices
- Home remodeling to add a wheelchair ramp or other accommodations
Overall, the victim is likely to be unable to fully resume working, traveling and enjoying other life activities.
Compensation for catastrophic injuries can be far greater than would be expected in a normal personal injury case. In addition to higher economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, victims may be able to recover enhanced non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of quality of life.
In Tennessee, there is no limit on how much a victim can recover for economic damages. In most injury cases, however, non-economic damages are capped at $750,000, but the cap is raised to $1 million in catastrophic injury cases. Further, the cap does not apply at all if the person who caused the injury did so intentionally, or falsified or concealed evidence, or if he or she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
Although the potential damages are greater, so are the litigation costs involved. Catastrophic injury cases can be highly complex, often requiring the testimony of medical experts and other expert witnesses to attest to how much compensation is owed. As such, injured parties are wise to seek the services of a legal team with significant experience in litigating these cases.
Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC in Bristol represents clients who have been seriously injured in auto accidents, motorcycle crashes, truck wrecks and other incidents in East Tennessee. Please call 423-797-6022 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.