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Modified Comparative Negligence & Liability Laws in Tennessee

Determining Liability: Tennessee Negligence Laws

 It can be difficult to determine negligence in personal injury cases. Tennessee, like many other states, uses the comparative negligence system in personal injury cases. This system is used to determine liability and damages based on the level of negligence attributed to each party involved in an accident.

If you or a loved one was injured due to the negligent behavior of another, you may have grounds for legal action. Contact a Knoxville personal injury lawyer to explore your legal options.

For additional information about the comparative negligence system and how it applies to you, complete the Free Case Review form on this page. 

Tennessee Comparative Fault Laws

Comparative negligence is broken down into two systems, pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. Under the pure comparative negligence system, an accident victim may be awarded damages even if they are partially to blame for their own injury. 

Using modified comparative negligence, the court awards damages based on the level of fault of each party. In these cases, a judge or jury will assign a percentage of liability for each party that is involved in the incident and then award damages based on the assigned percentage. For example, Betty and James were involved in a car accident, but the jury decided that James is 98 percent at fault for the collision, so Betty is only responsible for two percent of the damages.

However, there is an exception to this law: when the plaintiff knowingly caused or contributed to another partys injury or death.

Currently, there are only 13 states that use a pure comparative negligence system. Those states include:

  • Arizona
  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • California
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Washington

Comparative Negligence Systems

Tennessee is one of the many states that use the modified comparative negligence system. Modified comparative fault laws are similar to the pure comparative negligence system in that a judge or jury will assign a percentage of fault for each party involved and then award damages based on the percentage.

However, under the modified comparative negligence system, if a plaintiffs percentage of liability reaches a certain level, then they will not be awarded any damages. This system is broken down into two types: the 51 percent rule and the 50 percent rule.

There are several states, including Tennessee, that use the 50 percent rule.  Under the 50 percent rule, an accident victim is only allowed to collect damages if a judge or jury determines that the plaintiffs fault for the injury is 49 percent or less. If the judge or jury determines the plaintiffs percentage of liability is 50 percent or more, they will not be awarded any damages. The following states adhere to the 50 percent rule:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

At this time, there are 21 states that use the 51 percent rule. Through the 51 percent rule, an injury victim can only collect damages if it is determined that their level of fault does not reach 51 percent. In this system, the plaintiffs award will be reduced by his/her level of fault. Listed below are the states that practice the 51 percent rule:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Tennessee Personal Injury Lawsuits

After youve sustained an injury in a car or other type of accident, you should seek legal guidance.  Oftentimes, insurance companies will try to get you to agree to a claim quickly. An experienced attorney can review the details about the accident and determine if the insurance company is offering you fair compensation for your injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Greg Coleman Law. In Tennessee, accident victims may be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, property damage and other losses associated with the accident.

The legal team at Greg Coleman Law has the experience and resources to handle all types of auto accidents. Our attorneys and staff have helped numerous clients receive favorable outcomes form their legal claims.

To learn more about Tennessee negligence laws, fill out the contact form on this page for a free discussion with our legal professionals.

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