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Old Law Protects Government Agencies from Paying Victims They Injure

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Last month, we wrote about a bus accident that injured 28 people, most of them high schoolers on their way home. You might think that the district would be responsible for paying these damages, but a 40-year-old state law caps damages in accidents like these at $700,000 “regardless of how many people were injured,” according to an article in the Johnson City Press.

That means the 26 students injured in the bus accident can receive no more than $16,000 apiece to compensate for their medical expenses, injuries and trauma they experienced that day. Lawyers interviewed in the story pointed out the damages would remain the same even if all those children had died in the accident.

The school could have used immunity to protect itself from paying damages and avoiding future lawsuits, but  decided to waive this right.


Attorneys said that the law is in place because lawmakers said it would create jobs. The theory was that if the government avoids paying damages in accident lawsuits, it has more money to spend on hiring employees. However, this line of thinking ignores the whole picture. If plaintiffs do not receive just compensation for their injuries, they seek other forms of relief, such as welfare, food stamps and Social Security Disability.

“They become a liability on the public…society winds up paying for that,” said Bryan Capps, president of the Tennessee Association for Justice.

If your mistake caused someone else’s injury, you should pay for that injury. We can help victims seek justice against negligence. Call us at (615) 866-3938 and ask about our free consultations to learn more about obtaining relief for your injury or loss.

“A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work.” – Proverbs 16:11

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