When you begin to pursue a case for damages in a car accident, it can be pretty scary and confusing. First, you’ve got insurance companies hitting you with lowball offers that are far below what you know your accident is worth, you’ve got people threatening you with zero payout if you don’t sign off, and then you hear weird terms like “serious injury threshold,” which you don’t even understand.
In the end, a lot of these crazy things are just part and parcel of the process, and you may not even have to worry about that threshold at all. Learn about the serious injury threshold, how it affects Tennessee’s comparative fault laws, and how a car accident lawyer can help sort through the fog.
What Is the Serious Injury Threshold?
The serious injury threshold is a concept that exists in no-fault car insurance states. In these states, rather than filing a lawsuit against the other party in an accident, you file a claim against your own insurance company, who then decides if they will pursue compensation against the other person’s insurance without your involvement.
In these states, the only way you can file a suit against another person and step outside of the no-fault considerations is if you are hurt beyond a certain benchmark set by the state. This benchmark is the serious injury threshold. It varies wildly from state to state. In one state if your injury is worth $10,000 you can file suit; in another, it might have to be worth $50,000, or even higher.
Why It Doesn’t Matter in Tennessee
Tennessee is not a no-fault state, so the serious injury threshold doesn’t apply here. Rather, our state uses what is called a modified comparative negligence system. In this system, someone is always considered to be “at fault” for the car accident, and thus responsible for paying out damages to the other party.
However, it’s not an “all or nothing” situation. Rather, the state recognizes that sometimes people share the blame for accidents, and the degree to which you might be responsible can lower the amount you receive accordingly.
Let’s consider, for example, that your accident is worth $18,000, but in the course of the case, it’s determined that you were 30% responsible due to something you did or failed to do. In this case, your award would be reduced by that much, so you’d receive only $12,000 of the award.
Further, in modified comparative negligence, if you are held to be at least 50% responsible, you can’t receive any compensation at all.
Working with a Car Accident Lawyer
For this reason, when you get hurt by another driver’s negligence in Tennessee, it’s imperative that you seek help from an experienced and knowledgeable car accident lawyer. A lawyer will know how to defend your rights, make sure you’re seen as the victim, and help you pursue maximum compensation for your case. If you find yourself in such a situation, call the attorneys at Mitch Grissim and Associates for more information or to set up a consultation at no cost to you, today.