Before any injured car accident victim or any family of a deceased victim can collect damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses, it is necessary to prove someone else caused the accident. In most cases, the driver is the one at fault. Often, the owners of the vehicle will also be sued for not properly supervising the driver.
The defendants in Tennessee auto accident lawsuits will often try to blame the injured victim when the plaintiff is another driver, as opposed to a passenger or pedestrian. For example, if a driver broke his bones while speeding, that driver may still bring a claim against a driver who ran through a red light. The question for the courts is then what effect does the negligence of the injured driver’s speeding have in the case against the driver who ran the red light? Does the speeding nullify the right of the plaintiff speeder to sue?
How Tennessee allocates fault
Tennessee has a comparative negligence law that controls what happens when both the plaintiff and the defendant bear some responsibility for the accident. Comparative negligence means that the judge or jury will proportion the amount of fault to each party. For example, the jury could decide the plaintiff is 10% at fault and the defendant is 90% at fault. If the total amount of damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills totals $100,000 – then the defendant will be required to pay the plaintiff 90% of the damage award – or $90,000.
Tennessee does have another condition (other than apportioning fault) in comparative negligence cases. In order for the plaintiff to recover damages, the plaintiff’s percentage of fault must be less than 50%. If the damages are $100,000 and the plaintiff is 49% percent responsible while the defendant is 51% responsible, then the plaintiff gets 51% of $100,000 or $51,000. If, however, the plaintiff is 50% at fault, then the plaintiff doesn’t get $50,000. Instead, the plaintiff gets nothing.
There is an exception to Tennessee’s comparative negligence law. If the defendant intentionally caused the accident, he/she will be responsible for all the plaintiff’s injury damages or wrongful death damages.
Related Resources on Auto Accident Settlements in Tennessee
A Breakdown of Common Terms in an Auto Accident Claim
In order to recover damages when the driver is partially at fault, it is crucial to employ an experienced Nashville auto accident attorney. The experienced lawyers here at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm work aggressively to prove that the driver and other responsible parties were fully liable for the accident. If our client was partially at fault, we work to prove the defendants were more at fault than the plaintiff. For help now with any car crash, complete our contact form or call 615-425-2500 to speak to one of our Nashville, Hendersonville or Knoxville “Gladiators in Suits” today.