Most people never hear the term comparative fault until they have been injured in a car accident, so naturally, many people have questions about it. Basically it means that the amount of damages you can recover in a car accident case will be determined by your own level of fault in the accident.
In a car wreck case, the driver that was not at fault can recover damages from the driver that caused the accident. However, it is also possible that both drivers were partially to blame. Then what? That is where comparative fault comes into play in Tennessee car accident law.
In order to recover damages from a car wreck in Tennessee, you must be no more than 49% at fault in the accident. The amount of fault for each driver is determined by a jury at trial. Your award of damages may be decreased if the jury believes that you were partially at fault in the accident.
Below are three examples that demonstrate what comparative fault is and how it can affect an auto accident judgment. For these examples, let’s assume that the jury will award $10,000.00 in damages.
Scenario 1: In this case, the jury determines that the other driver is completely at fault in the accident. Obviously, this is the best scenario for you. The jury determined that you did nothing that contributed to the car accident. Since it was determined that you did nothing to contribute to the accident, your award will not be affected by comparative fault. In this case you would receive the full $10,000.00 in damages.
Scenario 2: The jury determines that the other driver is mostly at fault, but decided that you were at least partially to blame for the accident. In other words, you were somewhat responsible. In this case, the jury decides that you bear 25% of the fault for the accident. You will still recover damages from the other driver. However, of the total damages, the amount you receive would be reduced by the 25% of fault that jury attributed to your actions while driving. Consequently, you would receive $7,500.00 in damages ($10,000.00 minus 25%).
Scenario 3: The jury finds that both you and the other driver are equally to blame for the accident. You both did things that contributed to the accident – equally, according to the jury. Since the jury found both parties to be equally at fault, neither party will pay anything to the other party. Of the three scenarios presented, this is the worst. However, if the jury determined that you were more to blame in the accident, you could end up owing damages to the other driver.
How an attorney can help you
This issue of comparative fault is just one of the ways an experienced car accident lawyer can benefit you and your case. An experienced car wreck attorney will look at the facts of your case and advise you on how comparative fault may impact your claim. In addition, an aggressive car accident attorney will argue before the jury that most or all of the fault for the accident lies with the other driver.
Call today for a free consultation
The Lawyers of Brown & Roberto are serious lawyers who know how to win. With more than 75 years combined experience, we have recovered more than $45 million for our clients. Our office is conveniently located in West Knoxville, with plenty of free parking. We’re happy to meet with you free of charge to discuss your case and answer any questions that you may have. Call (865) 691-2777 or use the convenient response form below.
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