2021 Tennessee Code
Title 29 - Remedies and Special Proceedings
Chapter 39 - Compensation for Economic and Noneconomic Damages
§ 29-39-102. Civil Damage Awards
- In a civil action, each injured plaintiff may be awarded:
- Compensation for economic damages suffered by each injured plaintiff; and
- Compensation for any noneconomic damages suffered by each injured plaintiff not to exceed seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000) for all injuries and occurrences that were or could have been asserted, regardless of whether the action is based on a single act or omission or a series of acts or omissions that allegedly caused the injuries or death.
- If multiple defendants are found liable under the principle of comparative fault, the amount of all noneconomic damages, not to exceed seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000) for each injured plaintiff, shall be apportioned among the defendants based upon the percentage of fault for each defendant, so long as the plaintiff's comparative fault (or in a wrongful death action, the fault of the decedent) is not equal to or greater than fifty percent (50%), in which case recovery for any damages is barred.
- If an injury or loss is catastrophic in nature, as defined in subsection (d), the seven-hundred-fifty-thousand-dollar amount limiting noneconomic damages, as set forth in subdivision (a)(2) and subsection (b) is increased to, but the amount of damages awarded as noneconomic damages shall not exceed, one million dollars ($1,000,000).
- “Catastrophic loss or injury” means one (1) or more of the following:
- Spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia;
- Amputation of two (2) hands, two (2) feet or one (1) of each;
- Third degree burns over forty percent (40%) or more of the body as a whole or third degree burns up to forty percent (40%) percent or more of the face; or
- Wrongful death of a parent leaving a surviving minor child or children for whom the deceased parent had lawful rights of custody or visitation.
- All noneconomic damages awarded to each injured plaintiff, including damages for pain and suffering, as well as any claims of a spouse or children for loss of consortium or any derivative claim for noneconomic damages, shall not exceed in the aggregate a total of seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000), unless subsection (c) applies, in which case the aggregate amount shall not exceed one million dollars ($1,000,000).
- If there is a disputed issue of fact, the trier of fact, by special verdict, shall determine the existence of a catastrophic loss or injury as defined in subsection (d).
- The limitation on the amount of noneconomic damages imposed by subdivision (a)(2) and subsections (b)-(e) shall not be disclosed to the jury, but shall be applied by the court to any award of noneconomic damages.
- The limitation on the amount of noneconomic damages imposed by subdivision (a)(2) and subsections (b)-(e) shall not apply to personal injury and wrongful death actions:
- If the defendant had a specific intent to inflict serious physical injury, and the defendant's intentional conduct did, in fact, injure the plaintiff;
- If the defendant intentionally falsified, destroyed or concealed records containing material evidence with the purpose of wrongfully evading liability in the case at issue; provided, however, that this subsection (h) does not apply to the good faith withholding of records pursuant to privileges and other laws applicable to discovery, nor does it apply to the management of records in the normal course of business or in compliance with the defendant's document retention policy or state or federal regulations;
- If the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other intoxicant or stimulant, resulting the defendant's judgment being substantially impaired, and causing the injuries or death. For purposes of this subsection (h), a defendant shall not be deemed to be under the influence of drugs or any other intoxicant or stimulant, if the defendant was using lawfully prescribed drugs administered in accordance with a prescription or over-the-counter drugs in accordance with the written instructions of the manufacturer; or
- If the defendant's act or omission results in the defendant being convicted of a felony under the laws of this state, another state, or under federal law, and that act or omission caused the damages or injuries.
- If there is a dispute of fact, the trier of fact, by special verdict, shall determine whether the exceptions set forth in subsection (h) apply to the defendant and the cause of action.
- The liability of a defendant for noneconomic damages whose liability is alleged to be vicarious shall be determined separately from that of any alleged agent, employee or representative.
- Noneconomic damages are not permitted for any claim arising out of harm or loss of property, except as authorized by statute.
- No provision in this part shall apply to claims against this state to the extent that such provision is inconsistent with or conflicts with the Tennessee Claims Commission Act, compiled in title 9, chapter 8, part 3. In addition, no provision in this part shall apply to claims against a governmental entity or its employees to the extent that such provision is inconsistent with or conflicts with the Governmental Tort Liability Act, compiled in chapter 20 of this title.
- Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to create or enhance any claim, right of action, civil liability, economic damage or noneconomic damage under Tennessee law.
- The limitations on noneconomic damages in this section shall apply to restrict such recoveries in all civil actions notwithstanding conflicting statutes or common law.
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