Comparative Negligence in Tennessee Car Accident Cases

If you have been injured in an accident caused by another person's negligence, you have the right to pursue a claim. However, before you do so, it is important that you have an understanding of the personal injury fault laws in Tennessee. These laws will determine how much compensation you may be entitled to receive for your injuries.

In Tennessee, you must seek reimbursement for medical bills and other accident-related expenses from the at-fault driver or their insurance company. The person who is determined to be at fault is the person who caused the accident, through carelessness or negligence. Negligence occurs when a person does not perform a duty with the care that a reasonable person would. This could involve things like speeding, running a red light, texting while driving or driving under the influence. But in many automobile crashes, fault is shared between the drivers involved. Perhaps one driver was speeding, but the other driver failed to yield the right of way. The percentage of fault for each driver must be decided.

Tennessee is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that, if the court determines that the plaintiff (the injured party) contributed to the cause of the accident, the damages awarded will be reduced to represent that fault percentage. For example, imagine you are rear-ended at a stoplight. You may have been looking at your phone momentarily when the light turned green. The other driver, however, was clearly following too closely and failed to stop in time. The court might determine that you were 10 percent at fault for the accident due to the momentary distraction, while the other driver was 90 percent at fault for following too closely. In this scenario, any awarded damages would be reduced by 10 percent to reflect your partial responsibility.

Tennessee follows the "50 percent bar rule." This means that, as long as it is determined that you are less than 50 percent at fault, you may still receive damages. However, if the court determines that you are 50 percent or more at fault, it will not award you any damages. This highlights the importance of having strong evidence to demonstrate the other driver's negligence and minimize any perceived fault on your part.

To learn more about whether you can receive compensation after a car accident, it's highly advisable to talk to an experienced automobile accident attorney. They can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence to support your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.

At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C., we represent victims of car accidents throughout the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia area. We are prepared to defend your right to just compensation. Call us at [PHONE] or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.