Common Questions About Car Accident Cases in Tennessee
It isn’t uncommon to feel confused about your rights or your options after you or a family member has been hurt in a wreck. Find the answers to your questions here, or simply browse our answers to other common questions from Tennessee car accident victims. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to call our Nashville law office directly at 877-959-8847.
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When should I settle my car accident case?
In Tennessee, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance pays for any lost income and medical costs arising from an accident, and insurers may offer a fast settlement in order to close the case quickly. However, it is important for victims to realize that they will give up their rights to any additional claims stemming from the same accident once they accept a settlement, so they should weigh their options carefully before agreeing to a deal.
Factors to Consider Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement
If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, it is likely that the insurance company responsible for covering your crash costs will offer you a settlement to resolve your case. Insurers and injury victims can negotiate settlement amounts throughout the claims process and even during a trial, and the vast majority of cases will be settled before ever proceeding to court. It may even be to your advantage to settle, as it allows you to end the dispute without taking the risk of losing at trial.
That said, before you accept or refuse a settlement offer, you should take into account:
- Whether your injuries are likely to improve. You should never accept a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries. An initial settlement may be offered just a few weeks after the crash, and it may be months before you know whether you will be able to return to work or live with permanent limitations. If you feel that an insurance company is rushing you to accept an offer, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
- The sum total of your accident costs. The amount of losses in an accident can quickly spiral into the thousands, especially if the victim has been unable to work. Victims will need to gather many different documents to calculate the amount of lost time from work, lost bonuses and sick days, property damage, hospital and outpatient appointments, mileage to medical appointments, rehabilitation, psychological treatment, and out-of-pocket costs.
- The amount of your future losses. Your injuries may require ongoing medical care, affect your future health, and severely hinder your ability to earn a living. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for victims to estimate the amount of potential financial losses, and they will need to consult with an attorney to properly value their cases.
- Your pain and suffering. Juries have the ability to award pain and suffering (called non-economic damages) of tens of thousands of dollars for emotional, physical, and psychiatric distress caused by the accident. However, most insurers will not offer an amount to cover pain and suffering unless they think the victim has a good chance of winning at trial.
- The strength of your case. Insurers’ offers are based not just on the sum total of your losses, but on the likelihood each side has of winning at trial. If the at-fault driver was intoxicated, has a poor driving record, or has a history of negligent driving, the insurer may be more likely to settle because the jury may side with the victim. Similarly, if your medical records show extensive injuries or permanent disability, the jury may be more willing to award higher pain and suffering damages.
- What your goals are. It is important to determine what the best outcome would be, as well as the minimum amount you would be willing to accept. Some victims may be concerned with their ability to support their families after an injury, while others are looking for closure after losing a loved one in the crash. Settlements often give victims more control over the terms in the outcome of their case, such as requiring a formal apology or other non-monetary compensation.
If an insurance company has offered you a settlement, we can evaluate whether the amount will meet your needs and gather the necessary documents to enter into negotiation. Whether we are able to secure you a settlement or your case proceeds to trial, our experienced car accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What is a focus group and why is it important?
One of the biggest challenges for a victim in a personal injury case is deciding whether to accept a settlement or take a case to trial. It can be tempting to accept a lower settlement rather than risk receiving nothing at all by going to trial—and many victims make this decision based solely on an attorney’s advice. However, our attorneys offer an additional strategy to get our clients the best possible resolution to their case. By convening focus groups, we get an idea of what to expect in court, strengthening both our client’s case and bargaining position.
Our Focus Groups Give Us Additional Insight Into Each Accident Case
At GriffithLaw, we will often gather members of the community together in a focus group to conduct a mock-trial of a case. We may present evidence, visual aids, and testimonies in exactly the same way we would in court, encouraging members of the group to ask questions and offer their opinions. The “jury” will deliberate, offer its decision, and tell us the amount of damages they would award our client if they were assigned to hear the case. This is not something all attorneys do.
It should be noted that a focus group is not a foolproof prediction of what will happen at trial. There are too many variables (including the judge, defense attorney, and jury pool) to predict exactly what will happen in court. That said, focus groups can be invaluable when it comes to testing different presentation strategies, knowing how we should present the information that matters most to jurors, and applying the information we gather to negotiate a better settlement.
For us, a focus group is an opportunity to:
- Get inside the mind of the jury. No matter how much preparation attorneys do, they can never be certain how a jury will feel about any particular case. Focus groups get opinions from a mixed group of people with no relation to anyone in the case, giving attorneys insight on how others might approach and interpret the facts.
- Listen to deliberation. While people involved in a case are not allowed to listen to a real jury deliberate, attorneys may watch focus group deliberations via recording session. By listening to the conversation, attorneys can identify which evidence is most important, which jury members are likely to side with the victim, and major factors that lead the jury to make its final ruling.
- Identify potential weaknesses and biases. Most attorneys will be able to identify the weaknesses in their own cases. However, watching the focus group allows them to see how much weight is given to weaker elements of the case. Attorneys may also notice that some individuals are more likely to be biased against their clients, giving them an insight into jury selection.
- Hone our arguments. An attorney’s presentation of the case can vary greatly before and after a focus group. The focus group’s questions can add depth to the original preparation, or it can inspire us to take a completely different approach to presenting the case.
- Estimate damages. Attorneys can meticulously detail the costs of an injury, but in the end, the amount of damages in a car accident case is up to the jury. It is not uncommon for juries, victims, and attorneys to have varying opinions on what the amount of damages should be, and convening a focus group is an opportunity to get all parties on the same page. For example, if a victim refuses to settle for anything less than $500,000, but is awarded only $200,000 by a focus group, he or she may be more likely to accept a $300,000 settlement when it is offered by an insurer.
- Save time. A focus group offers both attorneys and victims an opportunity to resolve a case more quickly. First, they will know exactly which parts of the case are most relevant to the jury. Second, they will be able to judge with confidence whether a settlement offer is fair. Finally, they will be able to gauge the likelihood of winning the case in court, taking some of the risk out of proceeding to trial.
The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What do I need to prove to win my car accident case?
No matter how straightforward the details of your case may seem, you will still have to make a clear case of negligence in order to get compensation after a crash. It all comes down to what you can prove and what you use to prove it, making the quality of your evidence vital to winning your case.
How to Prove Negligence in an Injury Claim
Most state laws provide a framework of what must be proved in order to recover compensation in an injury case. In order to prevail in a Tennessee car accident claim, you will have to prove the following:
- You were owed a duty of care. The other party who is named in your lawsuit must have owed you consideration for your safety, called a “duty of care.” A driver who struck you owes you a duty of care, since all road users have a duty to obey local traffic ordinances and drive as safely as possible. If you are suing someone other than a driver, you must establish that he or she owed you a duty of care.
- The negligent party breached the duty of care. Once you have shown that someone owed you a degree of safety, you must show that his or her actions were in violation of that duty. This proof hinges on showing that a reasonable person would not have acted as the negligent party did. Common breaches of care can include distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, tailgating, or road rage.
- The breach of care resulted in your injury. It is not enough to show that a driver was negligent, or even that a driver’s negligence caused an accident. You must also prove that the negligent party’s actions directly caused your injuries and property losses. This may be difficult for a victim who suffered aggravation to a previous injury, as they will have to show that the accident was the primary cause of the injury becoming worse.
- The breach of care resulted in financial losses. In order to recover the costs of an accident, you must prove that all of the losses you are claiming are directly related to the crash. This can include property damage (such as the cost for repairs to a vehicle), costs related to your injuries (such as medical bills and rehabilitation), and income losses (including the wages you were unable to earn while you were out of work).
- You were less than 50% to blame for the accident. Tennessee injury cases rely on a system of modified comparative negligence. Simply put, this means that a victim can recover damages even if he or she shared some of the fault for the accident; however, damages will be reduced by each party’s percentage of blame. In addition, state law requires that accident victims can only collect damages if they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. If you are more than 50% to blame, you will not be eligible to receive any payment in your injury claim.
Evidence That Can Help You Win Your Car Accident Case
All of the evidence you gather should have one goal: proving one (or more) of the factors above. Pictures and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and road conditions are an effective way to demonstrate the extent of injury and financial loss. Physical evidence, such as the clothes you were wearing at the time of the crash, can show the extent of physical and emotional trauma. Police reports are inadmissible as evidence in the state of Tennessee. On the other hand, the reports can be used to track down witnesses, recreate the scene, and serve as leads for gathering other forms of evidence (such as a police officer’s or eyewitness’s testimony). Finally, statements from repair shops and medical providers are necessary to provide an accurate estimate of your accident costs.
If you have been injured in a car accident, we can help you collect evidence of your injury costs, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have the attorneys at GriffithLaw explain your rights in your free case evaluation, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Why are teen drivers more likely to cause car crashes than other age groups?
All parents want to keep children safe in car accidents, even if the child is the one who is driving. Unfortunately, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S., and teenage drivers have some of the highest accident ratings of any age group.
Teen Driver Behaviors That Put All Road Users at Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,333 teenagers in the United States between the ages of 16 and 19 died in 2015, and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for car accident injuries the previous year. On average, six teenagers die every day as a result of crashes, whether they are behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.
Research from the CDC points to a few key reasons teen drivers are likely to be involved in car accidents:
- Lack of experience. Teen drivers have triple the fatal crash risk of older drivers, in part because they do not have the skills to recognize and avoid road hazards. Teens often spot hazardous situations (such as wet roads or cars stopped on the shoulder) later than more experienced drivers, and they are also more likely to underestimate the dangers of a potentially harmful situation and make a critical error that leads to a crash. The risk of an accident is highest during the first few months after the teen has gotten his or her license, and decreases as the driver gains experience on the road.
- Distractions. Drivers under age 20 have the highest rates of distraction-related fatalities in the nation, especially those who text and use cellphones while driving. In 2015, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) found that 42% of high school students who had driven in the past 30 days admitted to sending a text or email while driving. Students who admitted to frequent texting were also more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as drinking.
- Driving with friends. Researchers have discovered a link between the number of teen passengers and increased crash risk when an unsupervised teenager is driving. Fortunately, Tennessee’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program has rules in place to prevent teenagers who are still learning from carrying too many passengers. Those driving with a learner’s permit may only drive with a licensed driver over 21 in the front seat, and those with an intermediate license (Level II) may only have one passenger in the car.
- Speeding. Teens are likelier to engage in activities that make it difficult to stop suddenly, including speeding and following too closely behind another vehicle. Risk-taking behavior increases with male teen drivers, especially if there are male passengers.
- Weekend and night driving. Teenagers whose licenses no longer have night-driving restrictions are at significant risk of suffering fatal accidents. In 2014, half of all teenage deaths from car crashes took place between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight. Weekends were also particularly deadly, with 53% of fatalities occurring on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
- Drinking and drug use. Over a million high school teens drink alcohol and get behind the wheel every year. One survey from 2015 found that 20% of teenagers admitted to riding with a driver in the previous month who had been drinking alcohol. In 2014, 17% of drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 who were involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher.
- Lax seat belt use. Teenagers have some of the lowest rates of seat belt use when compared with other age groups. A 2015 survey discovered that only 61% of high school students always wear seat belts when riding with another person. Teen drivers with involved parents were twice as likely to wear seat belts regularly.
If you have questions after being injured in an accident, the attorneys at GriffithLaw will listen to your story and explain your rights in your free case evaluation. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to get started, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Why won't my primary care physician treat my car accident injuries?
Many people are surprised to find that their regular doctors are reluctant to treat their car accident injuries. While your family physician may have a longstanding relationship with you, the truth is he may not be the ideal person to treat these specific injuries—and he may not be willing to handle the legal technicalities that come with them.
Your Family Physician May Not Be the Best Fit for Your Accident Treatment
A family physician may refer patients to specialists when they do not have the experience or equipment to treat widespread injuries. However, many car accident patients will continue to see the specialist even for follow-up evaluations after their injuries have healed, keeping treatment for these specific injuries under the control of one doctor. This is usually better for the accident victim for a number of reasons:
- Timelines. A doctor who treats your injury from start to finish will create a clear timeline of how your injury has progressed. Your first visit should begin with a thorough examination and diagnostic testing (such as x-rays) so the doctor can determine the best course of treatment. The doctor can notate all of his recommendations, such as physical therapy, surgery, medications, limitations, and more as each week goes by, allowing the insurer and the judge in an injury case to see a full picture of how you have been affected by the crash.
- Documentation. Physicians who specialize in car accident injuries are aware of how important it is to keep close records of everything that could affect compensation in your case. All of your injuries must be documented correctly, meaning they should be dated, notated, and have complete and accurate information. Letters, photographs, statements, and other detailed crash-related medical records are key to winning an injury case and getting full compensation from an insurance company.
- Litigation. Any doctor who has treated your accident-related injuries can be called upon to testify if your injury case goes to court. Even if the doctor is not called to testify, he or she may still be asked to give a deposition to the two attorneys in the case. Family doctors often have little experience testifying in open court, and may be unwilling to spend the time it takes in litigation away from his patients. On the other hand, physicians who typically treat crash injuries are usually familiar with the legal process, and they know how to give testimony that will show the true nature of the victim’s injury.
- Billing. Your regular physician probably already has your health insurance information on file to bill the insurer for the costs of your medical care. However, after a car accident, any injury treatments you receive should be billed directly to the third-party insurer from your crash rather than to your own medical provider. Third-party insurers are typically the auto insurance provider of the at-fault driver, and these policies may have rules, limits, and co-pays that differ greatly from your own health insurance. It may seem like a small difference, but billing the wrong insurance company can have a big impact on injury compensation.
Finding the Right Doctor for Your Car Accident Case
It is vital for crash victims to find a physician to treat their injuries who is knowledgeable about car accident injuries and claims. When seeking out a doctor, ask him or her about past experience treating crash injuries, including whether or not he or she has given testimony in court. The doctor should have systems in place to accommodate third-party billing, provide medical documentation at your request, and stay with you throughout the course of your treatment to ensure that your plan for recovery has the best chance of success.
If you have been hurt in a car accident in Tennessee, our injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.
I was seriously injured in a rear-end collision. How can I tell who was responsible for the accident?
The most common car accident types can be broken down into three categories: head-on collisions, side impact or T-bone collisions, and rear-end collisions. Head-on and T-bone accidents are the most life-threatening types of collisions as the points of impact are located near the driver and passengers. However, rear-end collisions can also cause serious injury and it may be difficult to determine liability in these kinds of crashes.
Liability in Rear-end Collisions
Tennessee is a “modified-fault” state. This means that if a driver’s actions are found to be completely responsible for the accident, he will be held accountable for all damages. However, if he or his insurance company can prove that your actions contributed to the collision, you may be held partially liable for your own injuries.
In rear-end collision investigations, liability usually falls on the driver of the rear vehicle. The basic notion is that the rear driver failed in his duties as a responsible driver by:
- Paying attention to traffic ahead. If he were paying attention, he would have been able to stop before crashing into the car ahead of him.
- Driving at a controllable speed. If he was in control of his vehicle, he should have been able to stop in plenty of time to avoid a collision.
- Maintaining an adequate braking distance. If he was driving normally, paying attention and allowing a safe two-car stopping distance between his bumper and the car in front of him, he should have had enough time and distance to stop completely before a collision occurred.
Although these assumptions are reasonable explanations for liability, there are a few exceptions. In other words, there are instances where you could be held accountable even though you were hit from behind. These instances include slamming on your brakes with no warning, cutting in front of another driver when there wasn’t enough room, or committing any other negligent action that deliberately put you and other drivers at risk for a collision.
Types of Injuries Suffered in Rear-End Collisions
Injuries suffered when your car is hit from behind are often less severe than those resulting from head-on collisions or even side-impact crashes. However, rear-end collisions can cause injuries resulting in chronic pain and suffering. Often these injuries involve soft-tissue damage, which can be difficult to prove to an insurance adjuster. You will need to seek medical treatment and keep careful record of your doctor visits, diagnosis, treatments, and physical therapy appointments. The most common injuries caused by rear-end collisions include the following:
- Whiplash. Whiplash occurs when a tremendous force causes the neck to over-extend. This over-extension causes muscles and ligaments to stretch or even tear. Even though it’s not a life-threatening injury, it can cause prolonged periods of pain, discomfort, and the inability to move the neck.
- Back trauma. Depending on the severity of the collision, occupants’ backs can be injured, causing severe bruising or even spinal damage. If the force was great enough to cause spinal trauma, the consequences of the injury can range from pain and numbness to partial or complete paralysis.
- Facial damage. In addition to causing whiplash, the force of a rear-end collision can cause the driver or passenger to smash his face into the steering wheel or console. This impact can lead to broken orbital (bones around the eye) or cheek bones, collapsed nasal passages, and fractured jaws.
Precautionary Steps to Protect Your Rights
You never know when you may need a helping hand. Don’t allow an insurance company to lay the fault at your feet or take advantage of your confusion. An experienced car accident attorney will help you strengthen your case by documenting your injuries. Allow attorney John L. Griffith to protect you and your rights. You can also download our FREE guide on handling personal injury cases for additional insights and guidance into car accident injury claims.
How long do I have to file my personal injury accident case?
A statute of limitations is a designated period of time that someone has to take legal action against a liable party. Every state has its own filing deadlines for specific kinds of cases. It is important that you know how long you have to file a personal injury claim in Tennessee following a car accident. According to Tennessee Code § 28-3-104, personal tort actions (including injury claims) have a statute of limitations of one year from the date of the initial incident.
There Are Exceptions
Exceptions to the one-year statute of limitations can be made based on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of the injuries, as follows:
- Instances of disability. If the accident in question results in permanent disability or mental incompetence of the claimant, whereupon the victim cannot make legal decisions based on his injuries, next of kin can file a claim on his behalf. However, since determining competency and surrogate rights can take time, Tennessee courts will consider the delay and potentially extend the statute of limitation by 120 days.
- Wrongful death. In cases where the victim is deceased, whether by cause of the initial accident or by injuries sustained from the accident, the one-year statute of limitations may be extended. Since death may not be immediate, family members cannot be expected to file a claim based on the accident date. Therefore, in these situations, the statute of limitations will either be extended by 120 days, or reconfigured to begin not on the date of the accident, but rather on the date of death.
- Instances of wrongful concealment. Since the defendant in an injury claim can use the statute of limitations deadline as a defense to have the case dismissed, it stands to reason that prolonging the claim is in his best interest. However, if a defendant willfully or maliciously withholds evidence needed to complete a claim, he’ll be subject to penalties. Therefore, in addition to penalties, the court may also extend the statute of limitations deadline to compensate the claimant for time lost as a result of the defendant’s actions.
File Early for a Strong Claim
Need more information and advice regarding your injury claim? Contact us today for a FREE consultation about whether you're entitled to damages or compensation for your injuries. We can help you build a strong claim. Remember, time is not on your side.
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What steps should I take to protect myself while driving when I am pregnant?
You have a lot of things to worry about when you are pregnant, including the risk of being injured in a car accident. Learn more about how to keep yourself safe, what harm can be done in a car crash, and what legal options you have following a crash here.
Staying Safe Behind the Wheel When You Are Pregnant
Many health care providers overlook the importance of proper vehicle positioning during pregnancy. However, hundreds of expectant mothers suffer miscarriages as a result of improper belt and steering wheel placements putting too much stress on the baby. To protect yourself and your unborn child, make sure that you know how to safely position yourself and your restraints when driving and riding in a vehicle. The following are suggested belt and seat positions for pregnant women:
- Never ride in a moving vehicle without a full lap and shoulder belt.
- Sit as far away from the steering wheel as possible, while still being able to safely reach the pedals.
- Wear the belt as tightly as possible while remaining comfortable.
- Position the belt so that the diagonal strap rests on the shoulder (not neck) and lies between the breasts, but over the breastbone. The lap belt should rest on the thighs, above the pelvis, but beneath the abdomen. In no circumstances should the strap rest on or cross the stomach.
Seek Care After A Car Accident While Pregnant
A car accident, whether minor or severe, can result in serious pregnancy complications. In addition to external injuries, the trauma of a collision can cause after-effects which can include increased risks for:
- Premature labor
- Internal bleeding
- Birth defects
- Growth retardation (slowed growth rate)
- Elevated stress levels and blood pressure
- Placental damage
Considering the risks involved, your number-one priority following a car collision should be the protection of your baby. It doesn’t matter if the collision was just a fender bender, if you or your baby suffered the jolting effects of a collision, you need to verify that everything is normal with your pregnancy.
When you’re examined after a car accident, you should expect your physician to order tests, ultrasounds, and electronic fetal monitoring to check the position and health of the baby. Once the exams and tests are finished, your doctor may suggest bed rest for the remainder of your pregnancy to prevent any further trauma.
After seeking medical attention, you can begin to tackle the legal side of liability and damage compensation. A personal injury claim can not only help pay for medical bills and property damage but, depending on the circumstances, may also cover pain and emotional suffering that resulted from the trauma.
For a more thorough discussion on your options for injury recovery following a collision, contact us directly at 877-959-8847. We’ll be happy to discuss your case in more personal detail and recommend the best options for pursuing a claim.
Did this information answer your questions? Connect with us on Facebook and let us know. While you wait to schedule your review, feel free to download and read our FREE report, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case for more insights into how to handle your claim.
I was injured as a passenger in a car accident. What are my rights to a recovery?
The more passengers there are in a car, the higher the risk for collision injuries. In fact, the driver’s natural instinct for self-preservation often places passengers in harm’s way. To avoid a collision, a driver will instinctively turn the steering wheel away from the oncoming obstacle and inadvertently move the passengers directly into the obstacle’s path.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 20,000 passengers were killed as a result of car accident injuries, while driver fatalities numbered 15,000. Despite this discrepancy, accident injury information tends to be geared towards drivers, not passengers. In this article, we will help you understand your rights and options for injury claims as a passenger hurt in a car accident.
To pursue a successful injury claim for any accident, the two fundamentals you need to prove are fault and injury severity. Tennessee law does not usually recognize passenger liability in car accidents (unless the passenger purposefully grabbed the wheel). Therefore, there is no need to prove your innocence. However, although you’re clearly not responsible, the insurance company will demand verification as to which party was at fault. In these types of situations, as a passenger, you have several possible avenues through which to seek compensation. These include:
- Your driver. The driver of the vehicle in which you were the passenger could be held liable by all parties (other driver and other passengers) if his negligence led to the collision. Although you may not want to accuse a friend or loved one of causing your injuries, a claim against him may be your only option for recovery.
- The other driver. If the driver of the vehicle that crashed into you is determined to be at fault, you are eligible to file a claim against him and his insurance company for damages.
- Third party negligence. In a case where an outside factor (Construction, road damage) caused or contributed to the collision, you may be able to pursue a claim against a third party. For example, if a company did not install appropriate flashing lights, orange barrels, or other warning signs to indicate a hazard, the road construction company may be considered liable for your resulting injuries.
- Personal insurance. By default, Tennessee auto insurance policies include coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists. Therefore, if the liable party does not have the insurance to cover his negligent responsibilities, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages due to your injuries.
- All of the above. Tennessee is a fault state; meaning that those responsible for your injuries are liable for your damages. It also means that liability can be divided among multiple parties, each party being responsible for the percentage of the damages for which he was found liable.
Filing the Claim
When pursuing a car accident injury claim, whether you were the driver, passenger, or pedestrian, as a victim, you’ll need help filing your claim, understanding your rights, and convincing the insurance company that your injuries require a fair settlement. At GriffithLaw, we’re here to give you the guidance and support you need to pursue a successful personal injury claim. Call 615-807-7900 to schedule your FREE consultation today!
Need more information about traffic accident claims? Feel free to browse our site to see how our experience and knowledge can help you get the settlement you deserve.
Can I recover compensation if I am partially at fault for an accident?
When it comes to car accidents, states handle liability differently. Some states have “no-fault” policies. If you’re involved in a collision in a no-fault state, your personal automotive insurance should cover the resulting damages, both physical injuries and property damage. Other states, Tennessee included, are “fault states.” Fault states rely on the liable party’s insurance to pay for damages sustained to all parties.
These laws are pretty straightforward when the liability of a collision is obvious. However, the problem arises when partial fault comes into play. Who’s responsible for damages if both parties contributed to the accident?
Sharing Blame and Sharing Liability
State law determines who pays for what when a collision is proven to have been caused by multiple parties. These laws include comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Tennessee follows the modified comparative negligence system.
The modified comparative negligence system allows a person to be up to 50 percent liable and still receive partial damages from the other party. However, further stipulations include:
- If the claimant is found to be 51 percent or more responsible, he isn’t entitled to recover any damages.
- The awarded settlement will be calculated based on the final declaration of fault percentage. For example, if the awarded settlement is $10,000, but it was determined that you were 40 percent at-fault, your settlement will be reduced by 40 percent. Therefore, rather than receiving the full $10,000, you’ll be awarded $6,000 in damages.
Under this system, then, you can recover damages even if you contributed in some way to the accident, but only if you are assigned less than half of the blame for the crash. Deciding upon the percentage of blame becomes a key factor in a car accident case. You will need to gather evidence to prove that you were less than 50 percent at fault. An experienced car accident attorney can assist you in this process.
Does this information answer your questions? Connect with us on Facebook and let us know. For a more thorough discussion on your options for injury recovery following a collision, contact us directly at 877-959-8847. We’ll be happy to discuss your case in more personal detail and recommend the best options for pursuing a claim.