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Judge rules noneconomic damages cap unconstitutional

When Tennesseans are injured in a car crash caused by a negligent driver, they often hope to recover their economic losses through a personal injury lawsuit. These damages often include medical expenses and lost wages. While recovering those losses is certainly beneficial, many accident victims also hope to recover compensation for their noneconomic injuries, such as pain and suffering. However, a 2011 Tennessee law capped noneconomic damages at $750,000, which may not be enough for those tragically injured in a car, motorcycle, or truck accident.

Recently, though, a Tennessee judge ruled the cap unconstitutional, stating that it interferes with a plaintiff's right to trial by jury. The case at hand was a lawsuit against AT&T, where a plaintiff sought $22.5 million in pain and suffering damages. When AT&T moved to have the claim dismissed for its exceeding the statutory cap, the judge made his ruling.

It is worth noting that though this is a victory for accident victims across Tennessee, the matter is far from over. This ruling will likely be appealed and therefore may be heard by the state's highest court. If it does, only then will the matter truly be put to rest. In the meantime, victims of negligent acts and omissions cannot wait for a final ruling. They have needs that must be met, and they therefore should not base their decision to file a lawsuit on the outcome of a case that may not be finalized for months or even years.

When hurt in an accident, victims should do everything they can to recover their economic and noneconomic damages. Filing a lawsuit is often the best way to do this, but the complexities of the law can cause headaches. Therefore, it is often in a victim's best interest to seek assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: The Times Free Press, "Circuit judge rules Tennessee's tort reform limits are unconstitutional," Claire Wiseman, Mar. 9, 2015

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