Tennessee Highway Patrol reported 1280 fatal crashes in 2021 across the state. Unfortunately, this means many people are likely familiar with the consequences of a car accident. Besides the heartache caused by the sound of metal scraping against metal, the jolt your wallet takes in the aftermath of an accident can be just as painful.
Suppose you wish to reduce the financial damage caused by the accident. In that case, it’s important to understand the laws and regulations in Tennessee regarding car accidents.
From determining fault and insurance requirements to filing a lawsuit and obtaining compensation, this blog post will provide an overview of all the important things you should know about car accidents in Tennessee.
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There are two (or more) parties involved in each car accident. But mostly, there’s one party whose negligence causes the accident. Identifying who is at fault is the first step in determining how to proceed with insurance claims and lawsuits.
In Tennessee, the system of assigning fault for a car accident is comparative negligence. It means that each party involved in the car accident is held responsible for the percentage of the damage they caused.
For instance, if you’re driving on the infamous W Road in Chattanooga and you hit a car that suddenly changes lanes, the other driver may be found 70% responsible. You will have to pay 30% if it’s proven that you were driving responsibly. In such cases, the auto accident lawyers Chattanooga has to offer can help you determine the exact amount of fault assigned to each party.
However, Tennessee also has a modified comparative negligence law. So, if you’re found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, you won’t be able to receive any compensation from the other party.
Tennessee requires car owners to abide by certain laws when it comes to negligence issues. People in Tennessee must understand these laws to avoid future legal issues.
For instance, when it comes to negligence laws in Tennessee, the state requires drivers to exercise reasonable care on the road. It means drivers must stay alert and focused while driving, maintain the speed limit, watch out for pedestrians and cyclists, and obey all traffic signals and road signs.
Drivers should also use their headlights when visibility is low and ensure the car is in good condition before taking it on the road.
In addition, drivers should never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol and must always be aware of their surroundings on the road.
Tennessee has a tort system, meaning you can’t recover damages in a car accident until and unless the other party has been found liable. One way to ensure you’re well-protected in a car accident is by following the state’s minimum insurance requirements.
Tennessee requires drivers to carry liability coverage with minimum limits of 25,000/50,000/15,000. It means you must have $25,000 in coverage for physical injury per individual, $50,000 for total physical injury per accident, and $15,000 for any property damages.
It’s important to note that these are minimum requirements, and you may face a lawsuit if the accident costs exceed them. To avoid this, it’s advised that you obtain higher coverage limits.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time limit set by the state for filing a lawsuit. In Tennessee, you have one year from the date of an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. It applies to pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers as well.
If you fail to file a lawsuit within one year of the accident, your case will be dismissed regardless of how serious the injury is.
The one-year deadline also applies to death claims. So, if you must file a lawsuit against the other party due to their negligence leading to the death of a loved one, you must do so within one year of the date of death.
Similarly, you have three years to file a property damage lawsuit under section 28-3-105 of the Tennessee Code. Failing to do so will bar you from obtaining compensation for the damage caused to your property.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the insurance coverage is not enough to cover your losses from the accident, you may need to file a lawsuit against the other driver. Tennessee is an at-fault state, so if you can prove that the other driver was negligent and responsible for the accident, you can be eligible for compensation.
When filing a personal injury lawsuit in Tennessee, it’s important to have a skilled auto accident lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you strengthen your case and maximize the compensation you’re entitled to.
For a strong case, you’ll need to prove the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Your lawyer will help you gather evidence, such as witness statements, pictures from the accident scene, traffic violation reports, and medical bills to prove your case in court.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Get?
If you prove the other party’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation to cover your damages. It includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage costs, and more. Depending on the severity of your injury or the amount of the damages, you may also be eligible for punitive damages.
Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for their recklessness or negligence.
What Causes the Most Accidents in Tennessee?
When it comes to car accidents, the most common cause in Tennessee is impaired driving. It includes both drunk and drug-impaired drivers. Other factors contributing to car accidents in the state are distracted driving, speeding, and failure to yield the right-of-way.
Remember to remain aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions while driving.
What are the Highways with the Most Accidents?
Interstate 40 is one of the most dangerous highways in Tennessee. It is notorious for fatal accidents and has a rate of 2.28 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security.
Other highways with a high rate of accidents are I-24, I-75, US-70, and TN-385.
Tennessee is a great place to live and drive, but accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. Knowing the car accident laws in Tennessee can help you stay informed and protect your rights in case of an accident.
If you’re ever involved in a car accident, get in touch with an auto accident lawyer for professional advice. Doing so can help you take the right steps toward filing a successful claim.
Good luck, and stay safe on the roads!