The term “personal injury accident” is a term most people are familiar with; however, the term is a bit misleading. Although true “accidents” do occur, most “accidents” are not really accidents but are the result of negligence on the part of an involved party. The negligent party might be a motorist involved in a collision, a store owner in a slip and fall accident, or a doctor when a patient is injured as a result of a medical error. When a victim is injured as a result of negligence the victim may be entitled to damages, or compensation, from the negligent party. There are three types of damages to which a victim may be entitled – economic, non-economic, and punitive. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision in the State of Tennessee you may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages from the negligent party. Only an experienced Tennessee auto accident attorney can evaluate the specific facts of your collision and advise you with regard to whether or not you may be entitled to compensation; however, as a victim you should have at least a basic understanding of how non-economic and economic damages are calculated.
What is Negligence?
Although many states have moved to a “no-fault” system with regard to injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents, the State of Tennessee remains a “fault” state, meaning that the victim of an accident must prove fault, or negligence, on the part of another party. As an injured victim in a motor vehicle accident you can only collect compensation for your injuries if another party’s (or parties’) negligence caused, or contributed, to the collision in the State of Tennessee. In legal terms this is referred to as “negligence.” For a party to be considered negligence, four basic elements must be proven:
- Duty of care – the defendant must have owed a duty of care to the victim. The duty of care means the defendant was legally obligated to do everything a reasonable and prudent person who do to prevent harm from befalling the victim.
- Breach of the duty of care – the defendant must have breached the duty of care in some way.
- Causation – the breach of the duty of care must have been a cause, though not necessarily the only cause, of the injuries.
- Damages – the victim must have suffered injuries as a result.
Courts have long ago determined that a motorist operating a vehicle on a public roadway owes a duty of care to others on the roadway. Whether or not another motorist breached the duty of care can be an issue; however, some examples of situations that would qualify as a breach include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Texting while driving
- Driving while drowsy
- Aggressive driving
- What Are Economic and Non-economic Damages?
The victim of an auto accident in the State of Tennessee may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include out of pocket expenses such as medical bills, property damage to a vehicle, and lost wages. Non-economic damages include what people commonly refer to as “pain and suffering” caused by the injuries the victim suffered.
How Are Economic Damages Determined?
Economic damages are typically much easier to calculate than non-economic damages because a victim typically has a receipt, statement, or bill indicating exactly how much was incurred, paid or lost. For example, if you suffered physical injuries in an auto accident you will likely have a hospital bill as well as ongoing bills from your treating physician. Likewise, if your vehicle was damages you should be able to obtain an estimate for the cost of repairs. If you were employed at the time and missed work as a result of the accident you should be able to get a statement from your employer indicating the value of your lost wages. If you continued to miss work because for doctor appointments you can also typically count those lost wages as well when calculating the value of your economic damages claim. Think of economic damages as including any expenses or losses that can be directly linked to the accident.
If you believe you are the victim of a Tennessee personal injury accident, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee personal injury accident attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.