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Understanding Medical Malpractice Law in Tennessee

Negligent behavior by doctors and other medical practitioners can have devastating consequences for patients, leaving them physically scarred, mentally impaired or worse. A way to keep doctors and hospitals on their toes and dutifully providing the highest standard of care is medical malpractice suits that can harm their profits and reputation.

In the state of Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuits are governed by the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act that provides rules and guidelines for these suits. The Tennessee legislature has also set caps on the amount of money able to be won by the plaintiff in such suits. Understanding these laws is a crucial component to filing and ultimately winning a malpractice lawsuit in the state.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitation sets a time limit for you to file a malpractice claim. In Tennessee victims of medical malpractice have one year to file starting from the time they discover the injury. A case may not be filed, however, more than three years after a doctor breached a standard of care. This means that if a patient discovered the injury more than three years after the actual malpractice occurred, he or she would not be able to litigate.

Damages

There are various types of damages that can be awarded in malpractice suits and they do not only simply cover the costs of the injury itself.

  • Compensatory damages – These are the standard costs associated with the injury like medical expenses and loss of wages for time off work.
  • Non-economic damages – These damages pertain more to the emotional and intangible effects of the injury such as pain and suffering, physical scarring, disfigurement and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Punitive damages – These damages exist simply to punish the medical practitioner in the hopes it will discourage them from behaving negligently in the future.

In Tennessee, the non-economic damage cap is $750,000 for any type of medical malpractice suit. It does not matter whether it was a single act of malpractice or a series, the cap remains the same. There is an exemption, however, for “catastrophic injuries” which are capped at $1 million. These types of injuries are defined by state law and include spinal cord injuries resulting in paralyzation, wrongful death of a parent of a minor and third degree burns covering more than 40 percent of the body or face.

Another exception to these caps applies to instances of malpractice where the practitioner was found to have intentionally inflicted pain and injury. Exceptions also apply when the practitioner intentionally destroyed or falsified medical records and if the practitioner was intoxicated while performing the medical care.

Contact a Nashville Personal Injury Attorney

Now that you understand the law, it is time to get serious. If you feel that your medical malpractice injury falls in the statute of limitations and is worthy of being litigated, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced Nashville Personal Injury Attorney can provide you with the guidance to make sure your claim is valid and to continue on to receive the maximum compensation that you deserve.

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