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Is Tennessee A No Fault State?

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Mar 07, 2022

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
  • Florida
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Kentucky
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • North Dakota
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Utah

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.)
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failure to follow signs or lights
  • Reckless or careless driving

While driver testimonies, eyewitnesses, and police reports can offer different perspectives on what happened, ultimately, the insurance companies are the ones who decide fault. In some cases, it is the courts who decide. In many cases, the answer is obvious: a driver was speeding, ran a red light, or rear-ended a vehicle stopped in traffic. However, in just as many instances, the answer is not so apparent. In such cases, the liability gets spread around to each driver.

Required Minimum Coverage Limits in Tennessee

Due to the convention of shared liability in at fault states like Tennessee, state law requires every driver to carry liability insurance with minimum limits. According to the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles website, the state's minimum requirements per accident are:

●       $25,000 for each death or injury

●       $50,000 for total deaths or injuries

●       $15,000 for property damage

Despite the minimum coverage amounts, auto insurance rates tend to be less expensive in at fault states. According to the website, on average, insurance rates in no fault states are almost 20% more costly than at fault states. The higher rates may result from an insurance company paying out claims more frequently in no fault states. In addition, the mere potential of another party sharing in an accident's responsibility naturally equates to less risk for an insurance company in an at fault state.

Consider Contacting Our Experienced Attorneys To Learn About Your Legal Rights In a No Fault State After Your Accident

The laws regarding car accidents, liability and determination of compensation can be legally challenging and complex. Car accidents in no fault states like Tennessee mean that it is possible that each driver may potentially share liability and responsibility. If you suffered injuries or losses in an accident, you may have astronomical medical bills, the inability to return to work resulting in lost wages, and pain and suffering.  If you were in an accident in Tennessee, an accident attorney could help you understand no fault insurance laws. Contact an attorney at Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500 for a consultation today and to ensure you receive justice.

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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