Posted by Rocky McElhaney on 04/18/2022

How Comparative Negligence Laws Can Affect Your Injury Claim

How Comparative Negligence Laws Can Affect Your Injury Claim

Liability when it comes to car accidents is handled differently from state to state. Some states enforce a no-fault policy, which means if you are involved in a car accident in one of these states your auto insurance policy should cover the damages – for property and physical injuries. However, other states, such as Tennessee, are “fault states.” They depend on the liable party’s insurance to cover the damages incurred by all parties to the accident.


When the liability for an accident is obvious, the law is fairly straightforward. Issues arise when partial fault is involved. For an example, if both parties contributed in part to an accident, who is responsible for paying the damages?

Sharing fault and liability


When a collision is caused by multiple parties, comparative negligence laws govern who pays for what in the various states. In Tennessee, the modified comparative negligence system is used. In this system, an individual may be less than 50% liable for the crash and still receive partial damages from another party. There are some stipulations to how this system works:


If a claimant is found to be more than 50% responsible, he may not recover any damages.

Settlements are calculated and handed out according to the final fault percentage determined. For example, if the settlement awarded equals $30,000, but you were determined to be 30% at fault, your settlement portion will be reduced by 30%. Therefore, your actual award would be $21,000.


Under this comparative negligence system, you can recover damages even if you are shown to be liable in some way for the accident at a level less than 50%. Assigning the percentage of blame to the parties in an accident is a key aspect of a car accident case in Tennessee and other “fault states.” An experienced car accident attorney can help you in this process to gather and present evidence that you were less than 50% at fault for the collision.

Determining negligence


Determining fault is not always an easy task in an accident case, but evidence from the scene, witness statements, and the police report may assist you in your attorney to accurately assign fault to the liable party. In order to demonstrate negligence and minimize your percentage of liability, your attorney will need to demonstrate that:


  • The other driver acted negligently in some manner
  • The other driver’s negligence resulted in the accident
  • The accident directly resulted in the bodily injuries and property damages you incurred

In addition, your attorney may also gather and apply evidence to the case to demonstrate you acted properly in the incident to protect yourself and your property.


If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a car accident as a result of the negligence of one or more other parties, our experienced Nashville car accident attorneys at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can help. We can hold any liable parties to account and pursue the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We represent clients throughout Tennessee from our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville. To set up a free case evaluation, give us a call today at 615-425-2500.

Contact Member