Laws governing claims over medical malpractice in Tennessee can sometimes be vague. The state has set forth concrete laws to regulate litigation over negligence by medical practitioners, but decades of court cases concerning medical malpractice have created many differing interpretations of Tennessee’s state laws that lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants – not to mention judges and juries – have to sort through. However, some aspects of Tennessee medical malpractice law remains clear.
Statute of Limitations
The statutes of limitations laws stipulate that all medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within a year after a person suffers an injury. If the injury is not immediately evident and is discovered later, the plaintiff may sue any time within the next year. The discovery of an injury must occur within 3 years of when it was inflicted, otherwise a lawsuit cannot be filed.
Juries can award any amount of compensation to claimants who are successful in their medical malpractice suits. Tennessee state law places no limits on either compensatory or punitive damages. Attorney’s fees, however, are limited by law. Juries or judges can award attorney fees amounting to no more than 1/3 of the economic and punitive damages that the claimant has been given.
Several and Joint Liability
Tennessee recognizes joint and several liability in medical malpractice lawsuits, so the fault and financial responsibility for an injury can be spread out among multiple parties. The Tennessee State Supreme Court can override any decision regarding joint or several liability made in a lower court.
To testify in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Tennessee, expert witnesses must meet several qualifications. They need to be licensed to practice their medical specialty in Tennessee or a contiguous state and have practiced that specialty for at least one year prior to which the injury in question happened.