One of the most complex ideas associated with truck accident cases is contributory negligence. Learning more about comparative negligence can help you understand how it can affect your truck accident case.
These claims can be complicated and challenging to pursue successfully if you bear some blame for the crash. Professional legal guidance can be extremely beneficial in these situations.
The Parties Named as Defendants in Truck Accident Cases
The truck driver and the commercial trucking company employing the driver are the two primary entities you may name as defendants in a truck accident case. Civil lawsuits can be more complex when multiple parties are involved in the cases. Commercial entities often have legal departments devoted to providing the business organization with legal representation.
An experienced truck accident attorney can help you understand which entities may be liable for your injuries. Every case is unique, and the facts and circumstances of your case will dictate which individual parties may need to be named as defendants. In some cases, multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants may be included in your lawsuit. These entities may then file cross-claims and counter-claims that can quickly make the case more complex.
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At-Fault States and Tennessee Law
Tennessee is an at-fault state. The at-fault party in a truck accident is liable for the injuries suffered by the victims of the accident. The at-fault party will be responsible for paying damages above the insurance policy’s limits if they have automobile liability insurance.
Every driver who operates a vehicle in Tennessee must have a minimum amount of automobile liability insurance. The following are the minimum automobile liability insurance coverage amounts:
- $15,000 for accidents only resulting in property damage
- $25,000 for accidents in which one person suffers injuries
- $50,000 for accidents in which two or more individuals suffer injuries
An injured party is permitted to sue an at-fault driver in Tennessee. You can sue the driver individually if that driver does not have automobile liability insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage. However, those who do not possess automobile liability insurance may not have the ability to pay for your damages.
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Filing Legal Claims if You Were Partly Responsible for the Truck Accident
Tennessee is a modified comparative negligence state, and this means that a party can still assert legal claims even though they were partly responsible for an accident. The party bringing the lawsuit must have been less than 50% at fault for the accident. The damages award will be reduced by the percentage of fault applied to the party asserting the legal claims.
You do not want to admit liability for any accident before you speak to an experienced truck accident attorney. It is possible that you were not at fault for the accident. Do not make any statements to the other party at the accident scene. You should collect their contact information, exchange insurance information, and wait to speak to your truck accident attorney.
If you are 50% or more responsible for the truck accident, then you cannot seek financial compensation for your injuries. Investigating the accident is essential to your truck accident case. You should make note of any witnesses who may have observed the truck accident. Also, a truck accident may need to retain an accident reconstruction expert to strengthen your case.
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The Burden of Proof in Truck Accident Cases
The burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is a preponderance of the evidence. Typically, this means fifty percent or higher. You can recover monetary compensation for your injuries if you can establish that the other party was liable for your injuries. You only need to get over the fifty percent threshold and you can win a civil lawsuit.
In some civil cases the burden of proof is clear and convincing. This is a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence standard. However, the highest standard of all is reserved for criminal cases.
For criminal liability to attach, a prosecutor must prove that a defendant committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is an extremely high standard, and it is designed to protect criminal defendants and motivate prosecutors to research and investigate the cases they handle.
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The Types of Damages You Can Seek in a Truck Accident Case
Damages can be divided into two main categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are also another category of damages in civil cases, but they are not as common as the other categories of damages.
Economic damages denote quantifiable things such as medical bills and lost earnings. These damages can be reduced to a dollar amount and calculated based on employment records, medical records, and other documents. Collecting these records early on in a truck accident case can help injured victims substantiate their legal claims.
Non-economic damages are those damages that cannot be reduced to a dollar value. These damages are more subjective and concern things such as emotional distress, psychological suffering, and physical pain. The following are some of the common types of damages that can be recovered in truck accident cases:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages are reserved for conduct that is wanton, willful, or malicious. Defendants who are engaged in particularly egregious conduct that harms society as a whole may be forced to pay punitive damages. The purpose of awarding punitive damages is to punish the defendant and deter the defendant from committing the same conduct in the future.
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Speaking to an experienced truck accident attorney can help you understand more details about comparative negligence laws in the State of Tennessee. Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC was established in 1970. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing clients who suffered injuries in truck accidents.
We work with clients throughout the Memphis Tri-State Area. Call now to reach our truck accident attorneys in Memphis. We also have an office in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Don’t wait–contact us today!