Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in TN | The Law Offices of G Turner Howard III

If you’ve been in an accident in Tennessee and had injuries, you may be entitled to damages. However, there are different types of damages that you can claim in a lawsuit. Although the actual amount you receive from a personal injury settlement can vary, understanding the types of damages and expenses you can be compensated for and how they are calculated can help you make a more informed decision about whether to pursue your case.

Types of Expenses You Can Seek in a Claim

In a lawsuit, you would typically request that the defendant compensate you for your medical expenses related to the injury. This includes your emergency treatment, follow-up appointments, physical therapy and any other medical expenses you have due to your injury in the accident. If your doctor believes that you will need surgery in the future, you can ask that those costs be covered, too.

Another type of expense you can recover in a lawsuit is lost income. Calculating this amount is very complex, because there are many factors that must be determined. An expert would have to look at your case, your job skills, your current income, and the extent of your injuries to see how your income would be impacted.

Lost income and medical expenses are both considered “economic” damages. The third type of damages you can receive after an accident is pain and suffering, or “noneconomic” damages. This includes the pain that you’ve already dealt with and that you’ll struggle with in the future. It’s much more difficult to quantify pain and suffering, so these types of damages are harder to win without an experienced personal injury lawyer.

How Is Pain and Suffering Defined?

Pain and suffering encompasses a number of things, but it typically includes the physical and mental discomfort accompanying the injury. This could be any of the following:

  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of society or companionship
  • Suffering
  • Physical or emotional pain
  • Loss of enjoyment of your normal activities
  • Mental anguish

Pain and suffering damages can be awarded after a car accident, a slip and fall accident or medical malpractice. The key is to show that the injury caused a loss of quality of life.

Calculating pain and suffering can be a big source of disagreement. The more severe your distress, the more you can claim. Your broken foot is much less severe than a spinal injury, for example. Articulating your distress can be difficult. An experienced attorney can help you present your case more persuasively by providing documentation and evidence of the seriousness of your pain and suffering. You may also want to present expert testimony, such as that of a doctor.

Maximum Amounts of Pain and Suffering Damages

Tennessee puts a cap on how much a person can be awarded for pain and suffering. The most a plaintiff can recover in a civil action is $750,000. However, that figure does increase in the case of limb amputation, severe burns and spinal cord injuries. There are also some exceptions to the cap if the defendant acted with intent or if the case results in a felony conviction.

Statute of Limitations

In Tennessee, you have a specified amount of time to bring your case to court. Generally, claims must be filed within one year of the injury. There are exceptions to this rule, but for physical injuries, you shouldn’t wait to talk to an attorney about your case.

Shared Fault

Tennessee has laws that outline how fault fits into a damaged person’s award. If you are determined to be partially at fault for an accident, your economic damages could be reduced. This is called comparative fault. In a personal injury claim, your fault must be less than 50 percent to collect damages. Your settlement may be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.

Helping the Victim

The goal of a personal injury case is to make the plaintiff whole or return the plaintiff to his or her condition before the accident. Of course, no amount of money can ever compensate someone for physical and mental pain. Making a case against the other party isn’t as easy as just compiling medical bills and showing your lost wages. You’ll want an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to stand up for your rights and present a strong case on your behalf.

The Tennessee code of law in civil matters, such as personal injury cases, is complex. You should discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney who can assess your situation against the intricacies in the law.


After spending his secondary years of study at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, G Turner Howard III earned his BA at Tulane University. A member of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, he received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Before becoming an attorney, he earned a Master’s and Doctor of Divinity at Andrews Theological Seminary and Columbia Theological Seminary. He also served as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army in Vietnam. With more than 20 years of experience, his firm has helped clients receive millions of dollars for personal injury, and in many cases, much faster than they ever expected.