Tennessee Car Wreck case affirmed

by Mandy Hicks

When someone is injured in a car accident, there are several different types of damages that can be included in a settlement or judgment, assuming that a case of negligence can be made against the negligent driver. Depending upon the circumstances, possible damages include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity and property damages.

Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, are more difficult to calculate than economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. Often, these are the most heavily contested elements of a car wreck case, once liability has been established. Sometimes, those types of damages are even the subject of an appeal.

The Facts of the Case

In the Tennessee car wreck case of Berry v. City of Memphis, the plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was struck by a police car at an intersection. She filed suit against the defendant city in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tennessee. Although the accident happened in 2003, the case was not tried until 2013.

The trial judge tried the case without a jury. After hearing the live testimony of the woman, her daughter, and a friend and reviewing the deposition testimony of the woman’s doctor and the police officer who was involved in the accident, the judge found that the city was liable for the accident and awarded the woman $151,766.36 in damages. The damages were broken down as follows:

  • $9,315.56 for medical expenses;
  • $11,500.00 for property damage;
  • $5,950.00 for lost wages;
  • $35,000.00 for loss of enjoyment of life; and
  • $90,000.00 for pain and suffering.

The City of Memphis appealed the verdict.

The Decision on Appeal

Although liability had been contested at the trial court level, the only issue designated on appeal was whether the trial judge had abused her discretion in awarding the woman damages for loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering in her Tennessee car wreck case. Upon consideration, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

The Court of Appeals first found that the city had failed to preserve the issue of the qualifications of the woman’s expert witness because it had not designated the issue for appeal, nor had it properly preserved the issue for appeal in the trial court. The Court of Appeals then noted that the city had failed to cite any authority in its appellate brief as to its contentions that the woman’s actions and her testimony demonstrated that the trial court’s award of non-economic damages was erroneous.
Concluding that the city’s appeal had basically been waived, the Court of Appeals found no reason to agree with the city that the trial judge had abused her discretion. In so holding, the court observed that it is not the function of the appellate court to research or construct the parties’ arguments on appeal.

To Speak to an Experienced Tennessee Car Wreck Lawyer

Negotiating a settlement or successfully trying a lawsuit in front of a judge or jury takes skill, knowledge, and experience. This is especially true when it comes to compensation for non-economic damages, such as those that were at issue in this Tennessee car wreck case. If you or a family member needs to speak to an attorney experienced in car and truck accident lawsuits, call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley (270) 781-6500 and ask for an appointment with a member of our staff. We are currently accepting appointments to review cases throughout Tennessee and Kentucky, including Bowling Green, and Nashville.

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