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Tennessee is an At-Fault State: What Does That Mean?

Posted on April 4, 2022 in

Tennessee is an at-fault state when it comes to car accident claims, which means the driver responsible for causing a crash or their insurer must pay for damages. However, under the state’s “modified comparative fault” system, every party involved in an accident is assigned a percentage of fault, and their degree of liability will determine how much compensation is recovered.

Understanding Tennessee’s Car Insurance Requirements

Tennessee drivers are required to carry minimum amounts of auto insurance called liability insurance. Those amounts required by law are as follows:

  • $25,000 bodily injury or death per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury or deaths per accident
  • $15,000 property damage liability

A liability policy covers another driver or passenger’s losses caused by the policyholder’s negligence. However, liability insurance does not pay for the policyholder’s damages when they are responsible for them. Still, other optional forms of car insurance are available, such as collision coverage, which will pay for damages regardless of fault.

The Difference Between At-Fault and No-Fault States

At-fault states, such as Tennessee, place the financial responsibility for an accident on the party who caused it. First, there must be an investigation to determine what party was at fault. If another driver is to blame, you have the right to seek the total amount of compensation you are entitled to from their insurance company. You have the choice to file an accident claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or under your policy, depending on your coverage. If you file a claim under your auto insurance policy, your insurer will seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurer.

In a no-fault state, drivers file an accident claim with their auto insurance company regardless of who was at fault. The driver’s insurance policy will cover their costs of a collision up to the policy limits. There are only a limited number of circumstances in which an accident victim can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

What If an Accident in Tennessee Was Partly My Fault?

Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence law will determine how much compensation you can recover if you are partially to blame for your car accident. Under this law, a percentage of fault is assigned to each driver, which reduces their payment accordingly. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 30 percent at fault, you will receive 70 percent of your award or $70,000. However, if you are found more than 50 percent to blame, you cannot recover compensation.

Proving Fault in Tennessee 

To prove another party is at-fault for a car accident in Tennessee, you must be able to demonstrate that their negligence caused the collision. That will require proof of the following four elements:

  • Duty of Care: The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care (e.g., to follow traffic laws)
  • Breach of Duty: The at-fault driver breached their duty of care (e.g., running a red light)
  • Causation: The at-fault driver is directly responsible for your injuries (e.g., the injuries you suffered are linked to the car accident caused by the at-fault driver)
  • Damages: You suffered financial and other losses as a result of the accident.

Examples of potential evidence to prove another party was negligent are photos and videos of the scene, the accident, the location of damage to the vehicles, witness statements, cell phone records, etc.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a car accident, The Law Offices of Christopher Eads, PLLC can help. We provide free consultations; talk to our Mount Juliet car accident lawyer today.