What Tennessee Drivers Need to Know about Fault Laws for Car Accidents
In short, the answer is yes. If you are injured by a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages, you can sue them. But keep in mind that individuals who don’t have car insurance may not have the financial means to pay out of pocket for your damages.
In Tennessee, all drivers are legally required to carry a minimum amount of liability auto insurance. According to the TN Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), current minimum coverage amounts are as follows:
- $25,000 in an accident where one person is injured; $50,000 in an accident where two or more people are injured; and $15,000 in an accident that only involves property damage.
- $50,000 in an accident where two or more people are injured; and
- $15,000 in an accident that only involves property damage.
The required amounts above are state minimums, but you have the option to purchase additional coverage, including collision and uninsured motorist coverage. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, having this type of insurance will allow you to obtain compensation to cover your injuries and other damages. If you can afford to add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy, it’s a good idea to do so.
But even if the at-fault driver has excellent insurance, don’t make the mistake of trying to represent yourself after an auto accident. Insurance companies are notorious for offering low settlements to car accident victims, taking full advantage of their vulnerable state. This is particularly true of victims who come to the table without legal representation. A skilled Tennessee auto accident attorney can protect your rights and help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.
Can You Sue If You Were Partially at Fault?
In addition to being a fault state, TN is a “modified comparative negligence” state, which means that both drivers may share blame for the accident, and any recovery will depend on the percentage of fault. As long as you were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you can recover damages. However, if you were partially responsible, your damage award will be reduced by the percentage of fault.
Let’s say that you were 20 percent responsible for an injury collision, and your total damages are calculated at $25,000. In this scenario, you will receive $20,000, which is the total damages minus 20 percent ($5,000). This is significant, because if you happened to live in a “contributory negligence” state, you wouldn’t be able to sue the other driver if you were even one percent responsible for the accident.
All that being said, never admit fault for an accident before speaking with an experienced TN car crash lawyer. For starters, without deep knowledge of the law, it’s impossible to know whether you were, in fact, at fault, and to what extent. Furthermore, even seemingly innocent statements such as, “I’m so sorry, the sun was in my eyes,” can be used against you in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. The best thing to do after an auto accident is to say as little as possible until you’ve had a chance to speak with your lawyer.
Contact a TN Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligence, the skilled legal team at Dennis and King can help. Our highly-knowledgeable, compassionate injury lawyers have helped countless car accident victims. Don’t go through this stressful situation without the help of skilled legal counsel. Contact Dennis and King today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.