When you’re injured in a car accident and it’s not your fault, it can be enraging, scary and confusing. All you want is to get better, get your car fixed and get your life back, but tactics by insurance companies and the other driver can get in the way. It’s important to understand how Tennessee car accident fault laws affect your car accident case and how to get compensation for the accident. Also learn why, when it gets down to it, hiring an attorney is the best choice you can make.
Tennessee Car Accident Fault
Tennessee, like all states, has its own laws regarding car accidents, fault and liability. Tennessee car accident fault laws operate on a “modified comparative fault” rule. This can affect how much compensation you can recover from your incident, and it is also why an attorney can be your best friend.
Modified comparative fault kicks in if you are found to be partially at fault in the accident. Your compensation for the injuries you suffer will be reduced by a comparative amount. This means that if the jury determines you are 10 percent at fault for what happened, the amount the judge awards you will be reduced by that same amount. If the award is $20,000, you’ll receive $18,000. This applies only until the fault reaches 50 percent, at which point you are no longer entitled to awards.
This means it’s more important than anything for you to be able to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident. The first thing you should do is make sure you and everyone else is okay, and call for any needed medical attention. Then, call the police. A police report can be very helpful to your case. Talk to all witnesses and the other driver, and keep detailed notes. Photograph the entire scene and keep meticulous records from the moment of the accident until you receive your final award.
There are two kinds of accidents where fault starts as assumed—these are rear-end accidents and left-turn collisions. In such cases the person striking from behind or making the left turn is usually assumed to be at fault, unless there are serious mitigating circumstances such as malfunctioning brake or tail lights, blinkers, speed issues, or problems obeying traffic signals.
Proceeding to the Claim
When the claim begins, attorneys for both sides will conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances. They will be looking to determine such issues as:
- Was everyone where they belonged?
- Was there carelessness involved on anyone’s part? Who was more careless, and by how much?
- Were there other parties involved beyond those directly affected by the accident? That is, is there an employer who might be at fault, or did a third party indirectly cause the accident?
Pitfalls and Challenges
Remember that insurance companies unfortunately don’t make a profit by paying out. They’re going to challenge your claims. When this happens, they’ll do it with technical jargon and legal representation. This is why it’s so important for you to seek the services of a qualified auto accident attorney. Only an attorney can help you prove that not only were you not at fault, but the other person was.
Even more importantly, you’ve got little to risk by hiring a lawyer. Most of the time your consultation will be no-obligation, and there will be no fee unless your attorney wins the case. Why do it alone? Take a look at our Tennessee auto accident page, and get in touch with us for more information about how we can help today.