What to Do After a Truck Accident in Tennessee

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

It was a beautiful day for a drive in the country, so you loaded up your family and hit the road. But as you rounded a bend, a full gravel truck headed the other way tipped over and dumped its heavy payload onto your car, destroying the vehicle and causing serious injuries to you and your spouse. The car can be replaced, and everyone's expected to recover from their injuries, but you've missed work and now you're looking into costly physical therapy options for your son.

Did the truck driver have too heavy of a load? Were they speeding? Intoxicated? Whatever the case, you're fairly certain the driver (or their employer) was negligent and that negligence led to your injuries. Truck accidents can cause serious injuries and even death, and can be quite traumatic. The following sections will help you understand what to do after a truck accident in Tennessee.

What to Do After a Truck Accident: First Steps

If you're involved in a truck accident, make sure you check on everyone involved immediately following the accident and call for emergency help -- or have someone else do so if you're seriously injured. Also, if possible, move your vehicle out of traffic. Next (again, if you're physically able to do so), take notes and photos; talk to any witnesses to the crash; and exchange information with the other parties (i.e. driver's license information, truck driver's employer, insurance information, etc.).

Tennessee Truck Accidents: Liability for Injuries

Tennessee uses a modified comparative negligence system for determining damages, which means awards for damages may be reduced in proportion to your own percentage of negligence. For instance, the truck driver may have been speeding while you were sending a text message immediately prior to the accident. The court will determine the percentages, but you won't be able to collect if the court determines that both parties were equally (50 percent each) responsible.

Tennessee Truck Accident Laws: The Basics

Understanding the letter of the law is not easy for non-attorneys, even though everyone is subject to the law. That's why we've deciphered the "legalese" of Tennessee's truck accident laws for your convenience.

Statutes

Tennessee Code:

Liability and Negligence

Tennessee is a fault state with respect to motor vehicle accidents, which means fault must be determined before damages are awarded for injuries (in "no-fault" states, injured parties make claims directly with their insurer through the personal injury protection, or "PIP," provisions of their policy).

The state's modified comparative negligence law (established through the courts) assigns fault to involved parties by percentages, basing awards for damages on each party's proportion of fault.

The truck driver's employer, the owner of the truck, the manufacturer of the truck, the truck maintenance company, and other parties also may be held liable (via their insurers).

Examples of negligence include:

  • Driver fatigue;
  • Speeding or other traffic violations;
  • Impaired driving;
  • Failure to provide drivers adequate rest between trips; and
  • Faulty truck design or improper maintenance.
Damages

Economic recovery, or damages, may include the following:

  • Medical and home care expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Diminished earning capacity;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • Wrongful death.
Federal and State Trucking Regulations

Truck drivers and their employers must adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Tennessee Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division regulations. You'll want to establish whether the truck driver violated any of these regulations before filing a claim, which include:

  • Maximum number of hours the driver may work within a specific time frame;
  • Truck driver's alcohol and drug use history;
  • Truck driver's driving history;
  • Maintenance schedule for trucks and trailers; and
  • The level of training the driver received.
Statute of Limitations

Within 1 year if anyone was injured or killed in the accident (also, within 3 years for property damage).

For wrongful death claims, the "clock" starts running at the time of the victim's death, which may come later than the date of the accident.

See also Tennessee Civil Statute of Limitations.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • Tennessee Laws - Summaries of select Tennessee laws spanning criminal, injury, family, small business, real estate, consumer, and other practice areas.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

Tennessee Truck Accident Laws: Related Resources

Get Expert Legal Help With Your Tennessee Truck Accident Claim

Making sense of your rights and responsibilities following a truck accident is no easy task, especially when you're recovering from serious injuries and concerned about expenses. If you've been injured in a truck accident due to someone else's negligence, you'll want to file a claim for damages. Talk to an experienced Tennessee motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.