Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a traumatic event, and one that can cause physical, emotional, and financial problems for months, even years, afterward. With that in mind, our judicial system is set up for victims of a car accident to be entitled to compensation for those injuries. If you are injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, you can pursue compensation for your injuries; however, what happens if you were partially at fault in the accident? Are you still entitled to compensation for your injuries? A LaVergne car accident lawyer discusses compensation when you are partially at fault in a car accident in Tennessee.
To be entitled to any type of compensation for injuries suffered in a car accident, you must be able to prove that another party’s negligence caused, or contributed to, the collision. Negligence is a legal term that basically means fault or blame. A Plaintiff (injured victim in this case) must prove four elements to establish negligence:
- Duty of care – the defendant must have owed you a legal duty of care, requiring him/her to do everything reasonable to prevent injury. Courts established long ago that a motorist operating a vehicle on a public roadway owes a legal duty of care to others on the roadway.
- Breach of the duty of care – you must show that the defendant breached that duty of care. Things such as drinking and driving, texting while driving, or speeding are all examples of a clear breach of the duty of care.
- Causation – you must show that the breach of duty was the cause of your injuries
- Damages – you must show that you were actually injured in the collision.
Contributory vs. Comparable Negligence
There are times when one motorist is clearly 100 percent responsible for a motor vehicle accident. A drunk driver who plows into a vehicle stopped at a red light, for example, is solely responsible for the collision. Other times, however, it is not as clear who caused the accident. It may be that two or more parties share in the blame for the accident. For instance, a motorist may have been texting while driving and not paying attention to the roadway, causing the vehicle to drift into another lane and collide with a second vehicle. Clearly the texting driver was negligent; however, it turns out that the driver of vehicle number two was speeding, making the collision worse and providing a comparable negligence argument for the defendant to use to avoid complete responsibility for the victim’s injuries.
There are two ways in which the law can handle situations wherein two or more parties share in the negligence for an accident. The first doctrine is known as “Contributory Negligence Doctrine.” Fortunately, on five jurisdictions employ the Pure Contributory Negligence Rule — Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. Under a contributory negligence rule, if a victim contributed at all to the accident, the victim cannot recover any compensation for injuries. So if you were 10 percent at fault in an accident, and another driver was 90 percent at fault, you would not be entitled to anything.
Tennessee, fortunately, operates under the doctrine of “Comparative Negligence.” Under the Comparative Negligence Doctrine, more than one party can share the blame for an accident and compensation is apportioned accordingly. If you share some of the blame, you will ultimately recover less for your injuries. For instance, if it is established that you are 20 percent at fault and the defendant is 80 percent at fault, and your damages are $100,000, you would only recover $80,000 after adjusting for your percentage of negligence. Not surprisingly, the allocation of fault is frequently contested by the parties to a car accident when discussing compensation.
Contact a LaVergne Car Accident Lawyer
If you have additional questions about your right to compensation for injuries you sustained in a car accident in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced LaVergne car accident lawyer immediately. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.