855.846.6529 tmiles@timmileslaw.com

By: Timothy L. Miles | Car Accident Lawyer | Nashville

If you are injured in a car accident in Tennessee, in order to prevail you, or your personal injury attorney, must prove the other driver was negligent.  In order to prove negligence, you have to prove four things:  duty of care, breach of that duty, causation and damages. 

Duty of Care

The first thing you will have to show is that the other driver owed you a duty of care. Every person who drives a car owes other drivers a basic duty of care. This includes not operating a vehicle in a way that would injure others. Drivers are required by law to operate motor vehicles conscientiously and take care to avoid injury to others. A driver who hits you owes you a duty of care, because all drivers are under a duty to obey traffic laws and drive as safely as possible. However, if you are claiming someone other than a driver caused you injuries, you must establish that he or she owed you a duty of care.

Breach of Duty of Care

Once you have established a duty of care was owe, you must show that person’s actions violated their duty of care. To show a breach of duty of care, you must show that a reasonably prudent person would not have acted as the negligent driver acted.  A plaintiff, or a good car accident lawyer, may make this showing by proving, for example, the other driver was speeding, texting, intoxicated, following too closely or committing another driving violation.


You must also prove that your injuries were directly caused by the actions of the negligent party and property losses. A defense would be that an intervening factor such as defective brakes on the other driver’s car.  You would have to show the driver’s negligence was the primary cause of the accident and not the defective brakes on his car. This can get tricky even for the best auto accident attorney.


You must prove that all of the losses you are directly related to the crash in order to recover your losses.  This includes all your damages including property damage, medical bills and lost income for the time you were unable to work.

Your Fault Was less than 50%

In Tennessee, personal injury cases use a system of modified comparative negligence.  This means you can recover damages even if you shared some of the fault for the accident, as long as you are less than 50% at fault.   If you are more than 50% to blame, you cannot recover anything.   Additionally, damages will be reduced by each party’s percentage of blame.