Thanks to a newly passed law, Tennessee residents will now be restricted on the amount of compensation they can receive from medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits.
In response to an onslaught of medical malpractice lawsuits being filed in Tennessee as a result of the recent fungal meningitis outbreak, the state’s Supreme Court has ruled on new legislation limiting awards on medical malpractice claims.
The new law was part of a “crackdown on civil lawsuits” to protect Tennessee citizens and companies against frivolous lawsuits. This new legislation puts a cap of $750,000 on damage claims that are non-economical, such as emotional suffering or pain, and the cap for punitive damages in medical malpractice and personal injury cases tops out now at $500,000. The cap for catastrophic damages, such as death or becoming paralyzed, burned, blinded, and suffering an amputation, was limited to $1 million as well.
The new law also protects Tennessee insurers from paying damages in product defection unless the seller knew of the defect before they sold it and/or they had direct control over the design and manufacturing of the product.
The 1998 Myint vs. Allstate Insurance Co. ruling, which allowed people to sue insurers based on the Tennessee’s state consumer protection act, has been reversed as a result of the new legislation, placing lawsuits against insurers under the jurisdiction of the state’s insurance laws instead.
The battle of medical malpractice caps has been waged throughout most of the country. Proponents say it protects people and companies from frivolous lawsuits and having to pay out excessive compensation for damages. The idea is that by lowering litigation vulnerability and insurance costs for companies, the business sector in Tennessee will improve.
The other side argues that capping medical malpractice and personal injury compensation is unconstitutional on the grounds that it puts a price limit on human life and well-being—namely $750,000-$1 million.
The debate on capping medical malpractice and personal injury compensation continues to play out in courtrooms and legislation offices across the nation, and now Tennessee has joined the dispute.