Although we are all accustomed to using terms such as “personal injury accident” and “car accident” when someone is injured, those terms are often misleading because what occurred what not a true accident. More often than not, the victim’s injuries were actually caused by the negligent conduct of an involved party. When that is the case, the victim may be entitled to compensation from the negligent party. What happens though, if you are injured in a personal injury accident in which your own negligence also contributed to the “accident?” In that case, you may find yourself wondering “What if I am partially responsible for my injuries?”
“Negligence” is the legal term used to refer to fault, blame, or responsibility. In order for an injured party to be entitled to damages in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party must be able to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused, or contributed, to the injuries suffered by the victim. The law recognizes that not all “accidents” are entirely the fault of one party. Sometimes two or more defendants share the blame for an accident. For example, in a multi-vehicle collision it is common for one driver’s negligence to start the chain reaction; however, several other drivers may also do something, or fail to do something, that makes the situation worse for the last vehicle to be struck. In that case, the negligent conduct of several drivers ultimately led to the injuries suffered by the victim.
The law also takes into account situations wherein the negligence of the victim contributes to the accident, meaning the victim is partially responsible for his/her own injuries. For instance, the victim of a car accident might have been speeding at the time a drunk driver hit him/her. In that case, the drunk driver is clearly negligent; however, the victim’s negligence made the situation worse. There are two types of negligence doctrines that can be used when a victim is partially at fault – contributory negligence and comparative negligence. Fortunately, the State of Tennessee (like most states) uses comparative negligence.
Contributory negligence precludes a victim from recovering damages if the victim contributed at all to the accident. Comparative negligence, on the other hand, allows a victim to recover damages; however, the damages to which the victim is entitled are diminished in direct relation to the victim’s degree of negligence, or fault, in the accident. For example, imagine you are in a car accident wherein you sustained injuries valued at $100,000. You, however, were 20 percent at fault in the accident. Your settlement or award is reduced by 20 percent, or $20,000 in this case, to reflect your share of the fault. Therefore, you would receive $80,000 for your injuries. Tennessee uses a modified comparative negligence standard which effectively means that as long as you are not more at fault than the defendant you are potentially entitled to pursue damages from the defendant for your injuries.
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee personal injury accident attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.