Experience, Compassion, Commitment

Punitive Damages in Tennessee Personal Injury Lawsuits

What are punitive damages and when are they awarded in Tennessee civil cases?

There’s something satisfying about seeing someone who has done something wrong being punished for their misdeeds. We may or may not admit to the satisfaction that we get from this, but it exists regardless. The word that comes to mind is justice.

This concept is even built into the law and is known as “punitive damages.” These are damages awarded by a court as a punishment against the defendant as a means of deterring their misbehavior from ever happening again.

But punitive damages aren’t available in all cases. It’s important to talk to an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney about your case to find out if these special types of damages may apply.

Tennessee awards punitive damages directly to the victims

Many states award punitive damages in a way that puts them aside into a “pool of money” to help the victims of crime overall. The money is doled out on a case-by-case basis as an average of the total amount of money.

Tennessee does not operate like that.

Instead, the money is awarded directly to the victim. Thus, the victim is directly compensated proportionally to what their damages really are.

Defining punitive damages under Tennessee law

Tennessee state law provides the definition of punitive damages that courts use to define what those damages are and how they might be awarded. They are awarded solely in civil lawsuits and only when the claimant proves through clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently or recklessly.

Title 29 Chapter 39 Section 29-39-104 contains all of the definitions and rules regarding punitive damages in a civil (personal injury) case:

(a) In a civil action in which punitive damages are sought:

(1) Punitive damages may only be awarded if the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant against whom punitive damages are sought acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently or recklessly...

Punitive damages are only awarded after compensatory damages have been awarded and only by a special verdict that is separate from the compensatory damages. In other words, punitive damages can be a part of the award, but only after all other compensation has been exhausted.

A lofty burden of proof

It’s not necessarily easy to win punitive damages. The burden of proof is higher than for other types of damages because they are nearly equivalent to criminal charges in a certain way. The burden of proof is defined as “clear and convincing evidence,” which is not quite as high as the “beyond a reasonable doubt” level of evidence required in a criminal case. But that remains a high burden regardless.

Explaining malicious intent or negligence

If you’re seeking punitive damages, you need to prove that the defendant had malicious intent or acted negligently. In either one of those circumstances, cases can move forward in Tennessee. However, juries are often keen on determining fault for an accident. They tend to lean in towards the idea that the person who is injured may have done so through their own actions.

That’s when your case can hit a snag.

Malicious intent is not as common in these types of cases, but there is a fairly common standard for negligence. A lot of companies act in a negligent manner because they believe that by cutting some corners they can save some money. It rarely works out the way that they want it to because they end up getting caught up in lawsuits and put their employees in danger.

Negligent action by a company could result in serious injury for any employee. Make sure you hire a lawyer who can highlight these facts and present them well to a jury.

Presenting all of the evidence

Evidence is critical in any criminal or civil case. The ability to show what has happened in the form of videos, pictures and other forms of evidence is the easiest way to be on the right side of a verdict when it’s all said and done.

The collection of that evidence requires a person to pay attention to details and lock in any materials that they can while it is still fresh and available. You’ll know you’ve hired the right attorney when they start right away and ensure that they have all of the materials that they will require to win your case. 

Our talented Tennessee attorneys go for the highest levels of compensation possible

Those who hire a Tennessee personal injury lawyer at Gilreath & Associates have put themselves in the best possible position to get the results that they need. Our talented attorneys know how these cases work and we can help our client get through the complex obstacles of personal injury law. We will file all of the paperwork, take care of all of the legal maneuvers and do whatever else we need to in order to get the ideal outcome for each and every client.

Juries looking to award punitive damages don’t do so on a whim. Many are skeptical of lawsuits involving damages like this, and they will need to be convinced by a compelling lawyer. You want a skilled debater and litigator on your side from the get-go.

Contact us today for your free consultation and let us fight for your rights.  


Contact us...

Call Toll Free
1 (800) 637-7024
or fill out the form below
Expertise.com Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 10 Trucking Trial Lawyers Association The Best Lawyers in America
TN Best 150 Lawyers America's Top 100 Attorneys
America's Top 100 Attorneys AITL America
Listed in Best Lawyers in America 2017 Listed in Best Lawyers in America 2011 The Best 101 Lawyers

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Law Firm Web Design & Marketing Services by SEO Advantage, Inc.™

Part of the Enjuris Network

Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
Our attorneys are dedicated to helping you recover financially from an injury stemming from someone else's negligence.