According to the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security website, car accidents have increased since 2020. Tennessee has already seen over 4,700 car accidents and over 1,000 accident fatalities in the year 2021. With so many collisions occurring on Tennessee roads, what should drivers know about who is at fault after a car accident? Like most states, Tennessee is an at fault state, which is different from a no fault state. If you were in a car wreck and want to understand your rights in an at fault state like Tennessee, contact the accident attorneys at Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500 for a consultation today to understand all of your legal options.
Liability in No Fault States
Liability after a car accident varies by state. No fault states require drivers involved in an accident to file a claim with their insurance, regardless of who was at fault. Tthe number of no fault states in the country is relatively low. According to the Insurance Information Institute website, just twelve states and Puerto Rico adhere to no fault insurance laws, including the following:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
No fault laws require drivers to purchase mandatory injury protection for themselves, also known as personal injury protection (PIP). No fault insurance refers to this “first party” coverage that enables insurance companies to cover their policyholder's injury expenses in the event of a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. While basic PIP policies do not cover bodily injury, most insurance companies will offer extra protection for medical expenses.
However, no fault does not mean that a driver can never sue. No fault means that the primary source of compensation after a car accident is the driver's insurance policy. Drivers in no fault states can still sue the negligent party, or receive compensation from the negligent party's insurance pollicy if the damages meet a certain threshold.
Tennessee is an At Fault State
Tennessee, like the majority of states in the country, is an at fault state. Also known as a fault state, at fault state laws do not prioritize a driver's policy as a primary means of compensation. As the name implies, at fault states consider driver fault after an accident. At fault laws leave the field open to filing claims on the insurance of other drivers involved, as well as litigation.
At fault laws take into account the percentage of the fault that each driver shares. The concept known as comparative negligence suggests that no driver is one hundred percent innocent in a collision. Even being present in the situation means that a driver assumes at least a small portion of the responsibility.
Like all of the at fault states, Tennessee relies on comparative negligence to assign liability burdens for auto accidents. For example, a driver could be 30% at fault, 90% at fault, etc. Contact an accident attorney at Labrum Law to understand your rights even if you believe you were partially at fault in your car accident.
Determining Fault After a Car Accident
Driver error, or negligence, is the main factor that determines who was at fault in a car accident. While road conditions, like icy or wet roads, can factor into a crash, most car accidents result from negligent driver performance. Some of the leading causes of auto accidents include:
- Distracted driving (texting, eating, inattention, etc.)
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failure to follow signs or lights
- Reckless or careless driving