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Part 4: Whose Fault Are Truck Accidents? Comparative Fault

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In some truck accidents, it’s not the truck driver or the truck manufacturer or the truck company’s fault entirely. Sometimes, it’s another driver, and often, these drivers are the ones who suffer the most. But even if another driver suffers injuries due to his or her own negligence, this does not completely preclude that person from seeking damages for their pain and suffering.

In Tennessee, we have something called the modified comparative negligence system. Under this system, the court awards damages based on the level of fault of each party. So even if a driver’s negligent actions led to an accident, the truck driver, company or manufacturer may still be liable for that accident to some degree.

However, there are limits. Tennessee uses a 50 percent rule when determining liability. This means that accident victims are only allowed to collect damages if a judge or jury determine that the victim’s fault in the accident is 49 percent or less. We are one of 12 states that prevent a plaintiff from recovering any damages whatsoever if they are shown to be 50 percent liable or higher.


Natalie is driving to meet her friends for brunch. She makes a left-hand turn without using her signal and is struck by a speeding 18-wheeler. The total damages for the case amount to $100,000, and Natalie sues the truck driver. When the case makes it to trial, the jury is asked to determine which driver was more at fault.

The jury looks at the case and decides that, while Natalie is somewhat responsible due to her lack of signaling, her injuries would have been much less severe if the truck driver had not been speeding. As such, they assign 30 percent of the blame to Natalie and 70 percent to the truck driver. Because of the comparative negligence law, Natalie will be able to collect 70 percent of the damages owed, or $70,000.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.”