If you were injured in an auto accident on a Tennessee road caused by another driver's negligence, and you want to pursue compensation, there are a few laws you should learn about because they could significantly impact your claim. For example, it is important to know the deadline for filing a lawsuit, how comparative fault can reduce your total compensation award, and our state's damage caps.
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a car accident, it is important to contact a skilled Knoxville auto accident lawyer at Greg Coleman Law for assistance with initiating a claim. We can investigate the accident, answer your questions about the legal process, and make sure the laws discussed below are applied appropriately to your case.
Comparative Fault Rule in Tennessee
In Tennessee, there is a comparative fault law for situations when both parties (the victim and the negligent driver) in a car accident are at fault for the collision. This rule decreases the amount of compensatory damages victims receive based on the percentage that the judge, jury or insurance adjuster determines each party was at fault.
If you file a claim for $50,000 in damages, you will only see $35,000 if you are 30 percent at fault in the accident. However, the other party has the burden of proof to show you are partially at fault. Drug use, consumption of alcohol and other forms of negligence could all be strong evidence that the victim is at least partially at fault.
Tennessee's comparative fault law, the victim can only collect compensation if he or she is 49 percent or less responsible for the accident. If you have 50 percent or more of the responsibility for the crash, the law prohibits you from receiving compensation.
This rule applies in the courtroom and it may come up during settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
In Tennessee, there is a limit on the amount of compensation an injured party can collect from a personal injury lawsuit. There is a cap for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life of $750,000.
However, the cap increases to $1,000,000 if there are any instances of amputation, serious burning, paralysis or the death of the parent of a minor child.
This law went into effect in 2011 when Tennessee enacted tort reform of personal injury cases.
Time Limit to File a Lawsuit
Personal injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations. In this state, the victim has no more than one year from the date of the accident to file suit. If you fail to initiate the claim before the one-year deadline passes, your claim becomes invalid and you forfeit any chance of seeking compensation for the injury through a lawsuit.
Two important exceptions can toll, or pause, the statute of limitations:
- A victim under the age of eighteen has one year from his or her 19th birthday to file a lawsuit.
- The law does not apply to a victim found by the court to be mentally incompetent with less than 50 percent of the fault for the accident. This means the statute will not run until the court finds the victim is no longer mentally incompetent.
Contact a Legal Professional for Help Today
When you or a loved one is recovering from a car accident, you can contact Greg Coleman Law to begin an investigation into what happened. Our qualified attorneys can explain the benefits of working with a lawyer and having him or her manage the case on your behalf.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no charge for being represented by our trusted attorneys. We do not receive payment unless your claim is successful and you acquire compensation.
Contact us today for a free case review.