Motor vehicle accidents are a common occurrence that often creates headaches, legal complications and costs money. Recovering compensation is often necessary to help accident victims cover their medical costs, lost wages and other damages. Before a recovery can happen, however, liability for the crash must be determined. Unfortunately, few car crashes are straightforward, even ones that appear to be, like a rear-end crash.
Who decides fault for a crash and what happens if the evidence is not clear?
At Greg Coleman Law, we are well-versed in the many ways that car crashes happen. Our knowledgeable car accident attorneys in Knoxville understand state laws and how fault is determined. We also work hard to make sure our clients are not assessed more than their fair share of fault.
Who Determines Fault for a Tennessee Car Crash?
There are a few ways that fault may be determined for a car crash. From the moment the accident occurs, fault is already being assessed. Read on to see how the process of deciding fault unfolds:
Drivers Take or Place the Blame
At the scene of an accident, people are often still in shock. Sometimes this may lead to one or more drivers unknowingly admitting to some degree of fault. For example, a driver who rear-ended another may say something like, "I didn’t see that car was stopped."
This admission could show evidence that the driver was distracted by something else, like texting. It could, however, also mean that the leading driver’s brake lights were not working. In either case, the tailing driver may have been following too closely to stop in time, even if he or she was not distracted. These are details investigators will need to determine before fault is assessed.
The Police Report Indicates Fault
First responders, often police officers, will initially assess an accident scene for injured victims to get medical assistance as soon as possible. After that, officers will investigate the scene further to try to figure out how the crash occurred. Evidence the officers will examine includes:
- The resting position of the vehicles
- Road debris and fresh tire marks
- Vehicle damages
- Video footage, if available
- Driver statements
- Eyewitness testimonies
Details of these findings, along with each driver’s vehicle and contact information, are included in a police report.
It is worth mentioning that once you receive your police report, you should review it immediately. If you notice any errors, you should take immediate steps to get them corrected.
Insurance Companies Assess Fault
A police report is considered impartial, and therefore carries more weight with the insurance companies than the statement of a bystander. That said, once a policyholder files an accident claim with the insurance company, that claim will be assigned to an adjuster. The insurance adjuster will examine:
- Insurance information for both parties
- The police report
- Vehicle damages
- Medical reports
It is likely that more than one adjuster could be involved when there are multiple vehicles in a crash. After completing the assessment, the insurance adjuster will assess a percentage of fault to each party involved in the crash.
What if the Evidence for Fault is Not Clear?
For some crashes, fault may be very clear, such as if a driver ran a red light and struck another vehicle that was already in the intersection. This scenario would likely be deemed as negligence per se in Tennessee. However, what happens when more than one party could be liable?
Tennessee’s Comparative Fault System
In some incidents, such as for multi-vehicle crashes, determining fault is extremely complicated. Often more than one party may share liability. When this occurs, Tennessee’s comparative fault law would apply.
According to this rule, if an accident victim is less than 50 percent at fault for the crash, he or she can still pursue a claim. However, any compensation he or she is awarded will be reduced by that degree of assessed fault. If the accident victim is 50 percent or more liable for a crash, no recovery is permitted.
Not Sure if You Have a Case? Our Law Firm is Ready to Help
Even if you are not sure whether you are eligible to file a case, our team of legal professionals with Greg Coleman Law is prepared to help. We will review the details of your situation to help determine if you may have a case.
Our experienced lawyers are dedicated to achieving the maximum amount of compensation possible - we have recovered millions for our clients. If you believe you are being assessed unfairly, such as when fault is not clear, we are prepared to fight to make sure you are not assessed more than your fair share of liability.
Learn about your legal options in a free case review. There is no obligation to move forward. If we do represent you, there is nothing for you to pay up front or until your case concludes and only then if we recover compensation for you.
Call 24/7 for your FREE Case Review: (865) 247-0080