In 2019, there were over 200,000 motor vehicle crashes in the State of Tennessee. Of these reported crashes:
- 155,217 resulted in property damage;
- 48,533 resulted in injuries; and
- 1,067 were fatal.
A car accident of any kind can be a terrifying and often costly experience. Fortunately, however, car insurance can help cover costs that you may incur in the aftermath of an accident.
For this reason, there are a number of Tennessee car insurance laws in place to help keep Tennessee drivers safe and prepared in the event an accident does occur.
If you or a loved one has questions about Tennessee auto insurance laws, contact Flora Templeton Stuart. Our car accident attorneys have helped thousands of clients navigate these complicated laws to get the compensation they need to recover.
Tennessee Auto Insurance Law: An Overview
If you are a driver on Tennessee roads, it is imperative that you have a general understanding of Tennessee auto insurance laws. This can help protect you if you are ever involved in an unanticipated accident.
Minimum Liability Coverage Under Tennessee Auto Insurance Laws
Most states require a minimum amount of insurance coverage for vehicles on state roadways. The State of Tennessee is no exception.
The lowest amount of coverage you must carry is known as the limit. The required minimum limits of car insurance liability coverage in Tennessee are:
- $25,000 for each injury or death per accident;
- $50,000 for total injuries or deaths per accident; and
- $15,000 for property damage per accident.
This liability coverage pays for the medical bills, property damage, and other costs incurred by individuals in the aftermath of a car accident, up to your coverage limit. After you meet your coverage limit, you are personally liable for the remainder of the financial harm arising out of the accident.
Are These Minimum Limits Enough for Me?
The minimum liability coverage amounts noted above are just that—minimum limits.
You must carry liability coverage in at least these minimum amounts. However, nothing prevents you from obtaining greater coverage.
Depending on certain factors, you may want to consider obtaining additional coverage. Some of these factors might include:
- Whether you live in an area in Tennessee that is at greater risk for car accidents;
- The total value of your vehicle;
- The total value of your other assets; and
- Your own personal accident history.
While these minimum limits do provide significant coverage, you will never know with any certainty how much will be “enough” until after an accident occurs. Depending on the extent and severity of any resulting injuries or property damage, it is absolutely possible that your minimum coverage may not be sufficient. Thus, it is always worth considering obtaining additional coverage.
What If I Drive with No Insurance?
Tennessee is a state that actively monitors whether vehicles are insured. If you operate your vehicle without insurance coverage, you can face financial and legal ramifications.
The civil penalty for failing to provide proof of insurance and driving without insurance can range from $25 to $300. Additionally, you could have your driving privileges revoked entirely pursuant to Tennessee Code section 55-12-115.
Optional Auto Insurance Coverage
Liability coverage is the bare minimum of insurance coverage you must have under Tennessee law. However, other forms of coverage exist that are optional.
These other forms of coverage can add further protection for you and your passengers in the event you are involved in an accident.
Collision coverage pays to repair your own vehicle if you collide with another driver or an object. It’s especially important to consider this coverage if you have a newer or more expensive vehicle.
Comprehensive coverage can help cover damage to your vehicle for non-collision damages that are due to things other than an auto accident. Comprehensive coverage typically includes coverage for damage to your vehicle arising from theft, weather damage, or collisions with animals.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UMI) coverage
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps cover expenses you incur if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. While all drivers must obtain basic minimum liability coverage under Tennessee law, unfortunately, not all drivers will comply. UM/UMI coverage will protect you from a scenario in which you are hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance coverage and cannot pay for your resulting injuries or damage. It can also help compensate for damages that exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Roadside assistance covers things like flat tires, towing costs, and battery jumps for those unexpected times when you may require roadside assistance.
Rental reimbursement coverage
Rental reimbursement coverage helps you pay for transportation expenses in the event your accident renders your vehicle undrivable for a period of time. This allows you to still have a vehicle while yours is being repaired after a covered insurance claim.
Tennessee Auto Accident Fault Laws
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries or property damage in a Tennessee auto accident, you may be wondering what to do and how Tennessee auto insurance laws apply to you.
Some states are “no-fault” states. These states require a minimum “Personal Injury Protection” (PIP) or “no-fault benefits” that provide personal injury coverage to everyone in the vehicle involved in a collision, up to a specific amount.
In these PIP/”no-fault” states, you file a PIP claim with your own insurance carrier, as well as a liability claim against the at-fault parties insurance carrier.
Tennessee, however, is a “fault” or “at-fault” state. This means that if the other party was responsible for the accident, you may seek recovery directly from the at-fault party and their insurer.
But it is also important to note that Tennessee operates under a comparative negligence theory of liability. This means that if you were partially at fault for causing the accident, your total recovery may be reduced by the proportion of your responsibility that led to the accident, or you may be completely barred from recovery if you are 50% or more at fault.
Should I Hire a Lawyer After an Accident
Tennessee fault laws can be complicated. But an experienced accident lawyer can be a great benefit to your auto accident case.
Not only can a lawyer help you understand your policy and how it applies to your accident case, but an auto accident attorney can also help you:
- Investigate the accident to help determine fault;
- Gather and analyze relevant evidence and apply it to your case;
- Assess your damages to determine what you may be able to recover;
- Negotiate with insurers to fight to maximize your recovery; and
- Prepare and take your case to trial when it becomes necessary.
Tennessee does not require that you hire a lawyer after your auto accident. However, doing so can be one of the best things you can do to maximize your recovery.
If you’re still on the fence, reach out to Flora Templeton Stuart and her team. We offer free case evaluations to discuss your case at no cost to you. Speak with one of our attorneys and see how we can help you recover.
We Have the Answers to Your Questions
We know you have questions. Let us help you get the answers you need.
The aftermath of a Tennessee auto accident is often complicated, time-consuming, and financially stressful. But you don’t have to navigate this process on your own.
Flora Templeton Stuart and her team have been helping personal injury victims in need for over 40 years. We have extensive experience and have helped thousands of clients recover tens of millions of dollars and well-deserved compensation.