Tennessee Court of Appeals Opinion Explains How to Allocate Responsibility in Negligence Cases

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2014

While it is true that some accidents are black and white when it comes to determining who is at fault, most lie somewhere in a gray area. For this reason, the courts of Tennessee have adopted a system that allows jurors to determine the fault of each party and assign that party a fair share of the damages, according to that percentage.

road-traffic-accident-1016505-mIt used to be that, even if a personal injury plaintiff was found to be at fault even the slightest bit, that plaintiff was not permitted to recover for any damages sustained during the accident. This, however, led to harsh results. Imagine a jaywalker getting hit by a drunk driver. Should the jaywalker be barred completely from recovery? Many say that the jaywalker should recover, but perhaps less than if they had not been jaywalking. This is how Tennessee’s system of allocating fault works.

Modified Comparative Fault in Tennessee Negligence Cases

In a recent case in front of one of the Tennessee court of appeals, the court had the occasion to explain a little bit about the history and purpose of its comparative fault rule. Comparative fault is merely the legal name for a system that allows jurors to determine how “at fault” each party is and reduces any recovery amount by a party’s percentage of fault.

The court explained that a modified comparative fault rule ensures a “tighter fit between liability and fault,” because under comparative fault “a defendant would only be liable for the percentage of damages that his or her own negligence caused.”

Interestingly, a defendant can even attempt to assign blame to a party who is not even joined in the suit. This means that if two parties are at fault, but only one can be found and joined in the lawsuit, the defendant may be able to push some of the blame on the absent party. This is obviously bad for the plaintiff.

How Modified Comparative Negligence Affects Tennessee Personal Injury Plaintiffs

Modified comparative fault is great for personal injury plaintiffs. It allows them to recover damages when they otherwise may not be able to. However, if a plaintiff is 50% at fault or more, then that plaintiff will still be barred from recovering for their injuries. In pure comparative fault jurisdictions (not applicable in Tennessee) plaintiffs can recover even if they are above 50% at fault.

Have You Been Involved in a Tennessee Personal Injury Accident?

If you have been involved in a Tennessee personal injury accident and would like to speak to a lawyer, please contact one of the skilled Clarksville personal injury attorneys at Matt Hardin Law. The dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys at Matt Hardin Law have years of experienced litigation personal injury claims against all kinds of defendants. No matter what kind of personal injury claim you have, Matt Hardin Law can help. Click here, or call 615-200-1111 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Tennessee Court of Appeals Decision Further Defines Landowner Liability When Land Is Being Used for Recreational Activity, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published March 17, 2014.

Tennessee Court of Appeals Determines that Plaintiffs Must Add Additional Defendants Within Statutory Time Frame, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published March 2, 2014.