Tennessee Court Discusses Evidence of Damages in Car Accident Cases

A person seeking compensation for harm suffered due to a car accident in Tennessee must not only establish liability, but he or she must also prove the damages caused by the accident. The consequences of the failure to adequately establish the economic and noneconomic harm caused by an accident were recently highlighted in a Tennessee appellate court case in which the court rejected the plaintiff’s assertion that the defendant owed the plaintiff the damages she sought, despite the fact that she did not set forth any evidence supporting her damages claim. If you suffered harm in a car accident, it is prudent to consult an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to present a winning case.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that the defendant driver rear-ended the plaintiff’s car, causing the plaintiff to suffer injuries. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, setting forth a negligence claim and requesting $125,000 in damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. The defendant did not answer the plaintiff’s discovery requests, and the plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment and a request for admission against the defendant. The defendant did not reply to either pleading.

It is reported that the court granted the request for admission and the motion for summary judgment. The defendant then appealed, but the court denied the appeal. A hearing was then held to determine the plaintiff’s damages, after which the court awarded the plaintiff $5,000, based on the lack of expert testimony supporting the plaintiff’s claim for damages. The plaintiff then appealed.

Evidence Needed to Establish Liability

In Tennessee, whether a duty is owed is a question of law, but issues of causation, proximate cause, and damages should be resolved by the factfinder. In the subject case, the plaintiff argued that the trial court should have awarded her $125,000, the amount sought in her complaint, based on the fact that the court granted her motion for summary judgment. The appellate court rejected this argument, however, pointing out that the plaintiff bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the damages caused by the defendant’s negligence.

While proof of damages does not need to be precise, damages must be proven with a reasonable degree of certainty. Additionally, damages cannot be based on speculation or conjecture. Further, in cases in which a plaintiff seeks compensation for the cost of medical treatment, he or she must produce medical bills paid or accrued for treatment that is both reasonable and necessary. As the plaintiff failed to produce any evidence in support of her plea for damages, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak with an Experienced Tennessee Attorney

If you suffered harm in a car accident caused by another driver it is advisable to speak with an attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue to recover compensation for your harm. Eric Beasley is a trusted Tennessee car accident attorney with the knowledge and experience needed to help you seek a favorable outcome and he will aggressively advocate on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Beasley at 615-859-2223 or via the online form to schedule a consultation.