Tennessee Court Affirms in Part, Reverses in Car Wreck Case

by Mandy Hicks

When a person is injured due to the negligence of another party, the injured person is entitled to pursue fair compensation for his or her injuries. In determining the amount due to a Tennessee car accident claimant, the court may consider the victim’s past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of ability to enjoy life, permanent impairment, and other factors.

If the case is tried to a jury, the jury members make this determination. If the trial court judge hears the case without a jury, he or she makes the determination.

Either way, if one party or the other is aggrieved by the amount of damages awarded by the trial court, there is the possibility of having an appellate court review the award.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case originating in the Circuit Court for Davidson County, Tennessee, the plaintiff was a woman who was hurt in a motor vehicle accident in 2013. She filed suit against the allegedly at-fault driver and his employer, seeking compensation for her injuries. Since the employer was a governmental entity, the defendant driver was found to be immune from suit, and the case proceeded to trial against the employer only under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. The case was tried to the court, sitting without a jury, and resulted in a verdict of $271,378.95 in compensatory damages.

The employer admitted that it was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries but contended that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The employer decided to appeal the case.

Decision of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

The appellate court modified in part, affirmed in part, vacated in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings. With regard to the plaintiff’s claim for past medical expenses, the appellate court disagreed with the $11,079.50 established by the trial court; instead, the court found that an award of $10,115.10 was appropriate because the necessity of a back brace and certain doctor visits was not proven at trial. As to the trial court’s assessment of damages for the plaintiff’s lost wages, past pain and suffering, permanent impairment, past loss of ability to enjoy life, and loss of ability to enjoy life in the future, the appellate court found no error.

The court went on to reverse the trial court’s $50,000 award for future pain and suffering, holding that the award was contradicted by a certain physician’s testimony regarding the plaintiff’s final diagnosis and prognosis, as well as other evidence. The court also vacated the $169,041.60 award for loss of earning capacity on the basis that the trial court did not make appropriate findings as to the extent of the plaintiff’s future earning capacity, as required by prior case law.

Do You Need to Talk to an Accident or Injury Attorney?

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a wreck, an experienced Tennessee car accident lawyer can help you with the process of seeking fair compensation. Call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley at 270-781-6500 to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout middle Tennessee, including in Nashville, Springfield, and Clarksville, as well as people located in Kentucky.

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