What Is Negligence in a Tennessee Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Anytime a person sustains an injury caused by the actions of another individual, there will likely be some sort of investigation to determine whether or not a personal injury lawsuit in Nashville is viable. In order for a person to successfully win a personal injury lawsuit, they will need to show that the alleged at-fault party, the defendant, was negligent. It is important to define negligence in terms of a Tennessee personal injury claim.

Understanding the Elements of Negligence

When a person is injured due to the negligence of another, they should work quickly and diligently to recover compensation. However, simply claiming that someone else was negligent is not enough to secure compensation. When it comes to personal injury lawsuits in Tennessee, there are four elements of negligence that need to be in place in order for a claim to be successful. The plaintiff (the injury victim), is responsible for proving:

  1. Duty. It must be shown that the defendant (the alleged negligent party) actually owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. A duty of care will look different depending on the type of claim at hand. For example, property owners owe various types of duties of care to those who have the legal right to come onto the property. This duty includes keeping the property maintained and safe as well as warning guests of hazards that cannot be immediately fixed. Drivers, on the other hand, owe a duty of care to everyone around them when they get behind the wheel. This includes following all traffic laws to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle.
  2. Breach. After establishing that a duty of care existed between the plaintiff and defendant, it needs to be shown that the defendant breached their duty of care. This breach can occur in various ways. A property owner could forget to clean up a known spill or fail to repair broken stair railings. Drivers could operate too fast for conditions or while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  3. Causation. After establishing that a breach of duty occurred, it needs to be shown that the breach is what caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Just because an entity or individual neglected their duty does not necessarily mean they caused an injury.
  4. Damages. Finally, it has to be shown that the plaintiff sustained some sort of monetary loss as a result of their injuries. This can include medical expenses, property damage expenses, lost wages, out-of-pocket losses, and more.

What is Comparative Negligence?

The term “comparative negligence” may come up in situations where there is more than one party responsible for causing an incident. Tennessee’s comparative negligence laws apportion liability between parties and can reduce or even eliminate how much compensation a person receives. Under these laws, any person found to be 50% or more responsible for an incident will be unable to recover compensation for their losses. Additionally, the total compensation a person receives (if they are 49% or less responsible) will be reduced in proportion to their percentage of fault.