Auto accidents are a very common occurrence in Tennessee, which makes familiarity with Tennessee car accident compensation laws an unfortunate necessity for many drivers. This article discusses what you need to know about Tennessee car accidents, including what to do after an accident and how to get appropriate compensation for your injuries and losses.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
Here is a list of what to do if you are in an accident:
- Don't leave the scene; leaving the scene of the accident, even if it's minor, could be considered an illegal hit-and-run
- Get to safety out of traffic and check everyone for injuries (and consider providing first aid to any car accident victims)
- Call the Tennessee highway patrol or the police department for help and medical assistance; you will want to make sure you get a copy of the police report or accident report
- Collect contact information and driver's insurance information from the people who were driving any vehicles involved in the accident
- Take pictures of the scene and get the contact information of any witnesses; also, check with nearby businesses or homeowners for a copy of their security camera footage, if applicable
- Call your insurance adjuster and notify them of a possible car accident claim
- Get checked out by a doctor
You can and should consider doing all of this before you think about bringing a personal injury lawsuit.
Tennessee Car Accident Compensation Laws: At a Glance
For more details on Tennessee Car Accident Compensation Laws, take a look at the chart below.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
“At Fault" and “49 Percent" Rules in Tennessee
To recover damages for your injuries suffered in an accident in Tennessee, you will need to prove that another driver is responsible. That is because Tennessee is known as an "at fault" jurisdiction for insurance claims.
While many states have adopted modified comparative negligence rules, not many adopted them the same way as Tennessee. Tennessee adopted the rule by way of the Supreme Court deciding that the interests of justice were no longer served by the contributory negligence rule. The old rule prohibited recovery when an injured party was even 1% at fault. Instead, Tennessee adopted the "49 percent rule" which requires that an injured driver be less at fault than the defendant in order to recover, and that any damages must be reduced in proportion to the injured driver's percentage of fault.
Damage Types Allowed in Tennessee
Car accidents leave more than just wrecked cars in their wake. If you were injured by another driver, you should know that you can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include your standard out-of-pocket expenses, such as vehicle repair costs, rental car costs, and any wages you lost due to time away from work. Non-economic damages are the lesser-known damages you might be able to recover, such as loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress.
Common car accident damages include:
- Vehicle repairs
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
- Medical bills
- Lost income
Limits on Damages in Tennessee
Unfortunately for severely injured parties, in 2015, the Tennessee Supreme Court vacated a decision that would have found the $750,000 cap on non-economic damages to be unconstitutional. But if you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury, hand or foot amputation, third-degree burns, or the loss of a parent or child due to a car accident, you may be entitled to the increased cap of $1,000,000 in non-economic damages. With regard to property damage, Tennessee prohibits non-economic damages arising out of such claims.
Tennessee has a relatively short time limit (also known as a statute of limitations) on how long injured parties can wait before filing suit against an at-fault driver. For personal injuries, you have only one year, but for damage to personal property, such as your car, you get up to three years to file a claim.
Get Help With Your Car Accident Claim From a Tennessee Attorney
Tennessee's short deadline is unforgiving to overwhelmed injured parties. If you were hurt in an accident and need some help sorting out what types of compensation you might be entitled to, a skilled Tennessee car accident injury attorney could be just what the doctor ordered.