Calculating the monetary cost of an injury from a car accident is usually straightforward.  The repair of automobile damage creates a clear expense. The same can be said for treatment of any physical injuries a person experiences. Damages with a provable monetary cost attached easily fit into a personal injury settlement negotiation.

Still, personal injury can have effects beyond the immediate expenses to repair damage. In Tennessee plaintiffs can sue for both economic and non-economic damages, the latter tied to pain and suffering.

What Is Pain and Suffering?


According to Tennessee law, pain and suffering claims must meet certain criteria. So in order to make a claim, you must be able to define what in your life has been affected by your injury and how. You can sue for three types of non-economic damages: pain & suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals attempts to define “pain and suffering”: 

“Pain and suffering encompasses the physical and mental discomfort caused by an injury. It includes the wide array of mental and emotional responses that accompany pain, such as anguish, distress, fear, humiliation, grief, shame, and worry.”

Examples of Pain and Suffering Claims

To successfully sue for pain and suffering, an injured person must be specific. You should develop a powerful narrative describing the ways an injury changed your life. Here are some examples:

Example One – A Broken Foot: Your foot is broken in a car accident. How might that result in a settlement?

  • Medical Treatment (economic damages): Cost connected to treatment
  • Short-term effect (economic and non-economic damages): Uncomfortable recovery – laying in bed, only getting around with assistance, etc. You can’t go to work, resulting in lost wages.
  • Long-term effect (non-economic damages): Scarring of your foot limits your mobility long-term and/or causes pain.
  • P&S compensation might be calculated according to the amount of backpay you’ve lost and how a jury might judge the severity of your discomfort and the ongoing inconvenience of being injured. You must be specific about WHAT pain & suffering you’ve experienced: “I used to be able to work in the garden or take a side job mowing yards to make more money, now I have to ice my feet every night.”

Example Two – Mental injury caused by another party: In order to successfully sue for mental effects of injury and/or emotional abuse, a plaintiff has to do a bit more work. To get compensation for pain and suffering in these situations, you must go to a psychologist or counselor. It is necessary to seek treatment and/or have a specific diagnosis because proving a mental injury without is difficult. Juries have a lot of latitude to make a judgement in these cases.

Limited Payout in Tennessee

Tennessee Law now limits personal injury payments for pain and suffering to $750,000, or $1 million for catastrophic injuries. Those include spinal cord injuries, amputation of hands or feet, 40% body coverage in third-degree burns, and wrongful death that leaves a minor child without a parent.

Contact the McKeehan Law Group today for a free consultation to learn how they would proceed with your personal injury lawsuit: send us a message online or call (865)294-8008.