Tennessee's Wrongful Death Statute Needs to be Changed!


Tennessee law, as it is written now, provides families of decedents in wrongful death cases inadequate financial recovery. The law should provide families financial recovery when a member of the family dies due to the fault or negligence of another whether it be caused by a medical error or a vehicle wreck, particularly if the deceased is the wage earner. Currently T.C.A. (Tennessee Code Annotated) 26-5-113 generally limits the financial recovery to a very inadequate amount. This includes the cost of:

Funeral Expenses

Future Lost income (reduced to present value and reduced again for all future living expenses, for example, food that was “saved” by the death, called “personal maintenance expenses”.)

Non-economic damages to the spouse not to exceed $750,000.00

                YES, THAT IS IT!

The insurance company’s lawyers are quick to project that most people will spend more on food and lodging than they would earn during the rest of their life! An economist must be hired to evaluate the projected loss of future income and then the insurance lawyer will quickly attack stating that they have not discounted the recovery enough for food and living expenses and citing the Tennessee law, T.C.A. 26-5-113.  

Two changes are needed. First, the law should be changed to state: “In no event shall a verdict returned by a jury for the pecuniary value of the life of the deceased, be reduced by personal maintenance expenses that they may have incurred during the remainder of their life.”

Second, TCA 39-29-102 (a)(2) should be changed to increase the maximum recovery for non-economic damages from the arbitrary amount of $750,000.00 to at least $3,000,000.00. Then it will be up to the jury.

If you believe these laws are unfair, contact your local elected state offices:  

Senator Bill Powers:     Address: 425 Rep. John Lweis Way N., Cordell Hull Bldg., Suite 612, Nashville, TN 37243 email: sen.bill.powers@capital.tn.gov phone:(615)741-2374

Representative Curtis Johnson:     Address: 425 Rep. John Lweis Way N., Cordell Hull Bldg., Suite 772, Nashville, TN 37243     email: rep.curtis.johnson@capitol.tn.gov     phone: (615)741-4341



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