Home to Market Square, Neyland Stadium, Strong Alley, and the Sunsphere, Knoxville is also a city at a crossroads of several large highways and interstates, namely I-40, I-640, and I-75. Thanks to increased traffic and construction, these roads are often the scene of car accidents.
Unfortunately, many of these accidents are caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another driver. If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident in Knoxville that was not your fault, you have the legal right to pursue compensation.
Call one of our top car accident attorneys in Knoxville to learn how we’ll fight for you.
Car Accident Statistics in Knoxville
Knoxville and Knox County are no strangers to car accidents. In 2019, Knox County saw 2,828 crashes involving injuries. In 2020, there were 2,587 crashes, a number that is not reflective of many other counties in the state and country which saw fewer crashes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, in 2019, 68 people died in car accidents in Knox County. In 2020, 56 people were killed. Many of those injuries and deaths could have been avoided had all drivers followed the rules of the road and considered others’ safety. Negligence regularly causes accidents that injure or kill innocent people with families, friends, and neighbors.
If you were injured or a loved one killed in a car accident in Knoxville, you have the legal right to hold the at-fault driver accountable for their actions. Call one of our best car accident attorneys in Knoxville today to discuss your legal options.
Why do I need a lawyer after a car accident?
Not every car accident requires a lawyer, but hiring an attorney can make a difference in the size of your settlement. Many insurance claimants are unaware of the types of expenses they can claim. Others are willing to take insurers’ denials at face value when some or all of their claims are rejected.
Working with a car accident attorney allows you to understand the full scope of your case, including:
- Your legal rights
- What damages you are eligible to claim
- What types of evidence are needed to support your claim
- What strategies insurers will use to attempt to reduce or deny your claim
What’s more, an experienced car accident lawyer is ready and willing to escalate your case to a lawsuit if insurers or defendants refuse to settle. The work your attorney puts into building your claim pays off when it comes time to present your case to a jury.
So, while hiring a car accident lawyer does end up costing you money when you win your case, you also increase the chances that you will obtain more compensation than you would by handling your case alone. This is especially true if you have sustained serious injuries.
Establishing Negligence in Knoxville Car Accident Cases
When seeking a personal injury settlement, most injury victims are out to prove one thing: the defendant, usually another driver, was negligent. If the injury victim can prove negligence, then the defendant is liable for all resulting damages.
But what does negligence mean? Traditionally, negligence is broken down into four parts, often referred to as The Four D’s:
- Duty. The defendant had a duty of care to prevent causing harm to the injury victim.
- Deviation. The defendant breached their duty of care, usually by acting carelessly, breaking the law, or failing to perform actions necessary to prevent harm.
- Direct Causation. The breach in the defendant’s duty of care directly caused an accident and resulting injuries.
- Damages. The injury resulted in losses that can be recovered through legal action.
While the concept of negligence is fairly straightforward, the average person might run into problems with proving one or more individual components.
For instance, let’s say that the defendant driver obviously caused the accident when their vehicle spun out of control after hitting a puddle. In this case, we have obvious causation and damages, but did the defendant actually breach any duty of care? If the insurer can argue that the accident happened because of a fact of nature and not because of any actions the driver took, they can seek to deny the claim.
As another example, the insurer wants to allege that the accident only happened because the claimant/plaintiff made a mistake that led to their injuries. In this case, even if the defendant was found to have committed some obvious breach of duty of care, such as speeding, then the claimant/plaintiff still has to be prepared to prove that this breach was what directly caused the accident, as opposed to their own actions.
Proving damages is another area where the average person might have trouble seeking full compensation. If they are unable to prove the connection between injury treatment costs and the accident, or if they are unable to provide the necessary documentation, then a defendant can chip away at the amount of compensation available.
Negligence is often a complicated legal concept for the average person to fully understand. Many times, insurance companies and other parties try to take advantage of car accident victims, assuming they don’t know enough to win the case.
Thankfully, an experienced Knoxville car accident lawyer will see beyond the insurance company’s tactics and work toward getting you the compensation you deserve.
Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friend
Another crucial point for car accident victims to remember is that the insurance company has a profit-driven motive to avoid paying out as much as possible. While they may seem friendly, they are using any strategies they have available to weaken your claim, deny certain coverage areas, or invalidate your claim altogether.
For example, a common strategy is for insurers to ask leading questions about how the accident happened in order to lay fault partially upon the claimant. Any percentage of fault the claimant assumes reduces the value of their claim.
Another strategy is to ask the claimant to release their entire medical history, implying that it is a normal part of the process. In reality, you are only obligated to release specific documents related to the most recent and relevant treatments. Insurers want your entire history simply to hunt for pre-existing conditions that can allow them to reduce or deny coverage.
Appointing a car accident attorney puts someone with experience in your corner. They will be familiar with strategies insurers use and can advise against actions like making a recorded statement that would later be used against you.
Insurers have practice getting claimants to jeopardize their claim values. Having a lawyer can deter insurers from dragging out the process longer than necessary.
What can you sue for in a car accident?
Repairs and medical bills can be costly, and paying for them out of pocket may put you in a deep financial hole. Taking legal action against the at-fault driver might be the best option for you to receive the money you need to pay your expenses.
First, you should know the two main types of lawsuits you may file after being involved in a car accident: a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you and your car accident attorney file a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover these types of compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company:
This type of compensation can include payment for treatment of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental injuries resulting from the accident.
If you were injured in a car accident, you most likely miss some work, and that will affect how much money you earn. If you have to take time off from work or go on unpaid leave to receive treatment or recover from your injuries, you should be compensated for all of your lost income.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may have to pay hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical procedures and treatment. Your Knoxville auto accident lawyer will help you calculate the cost of past and future treatment and work to recover that amount.
Pain and Suffering
It can be difficult to know exactly how much your pain and suffering is monetarily worth, but an experienced car accident lawyer will investigate and record how much your pain interferes with your life.
Vehicle Repairs or Replacement
If someone else’s actions caused damage to your property, meaning your vehicle and its contents, you can sue the at-fault driver for repairs or replacements.
If you and your attorney file a wrongful death lawsuit, you may be able to recover the following types of compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance:
Funerals are expensive, and the family of someone who died in a car accident shouldn’t have to be burdened with paying these expenses.
Compensation for lost income includes all earnings the deceased person would have provided for their dependents and other family members.
Loss of Consortium or Loss of Companionship
Loss of consortium refers to the missing benefits of a romantic or familial relationship when a person dies as a result of someone else’s mistake or negligence. The spouse of a deceased person can sue the at-fault driver based on loss of consortium.
Punitive damages is its own category. They don’t cover monetary damages; instead of awarding the victim compensation, punitive damages seek to punish the at-fault driver when their actions exceed negligence, moving into the territory of intentional harm or gross negligence.
What are the main causes of car accidents?
There is an average of 6.7 million motor vehicle crashes every year in the United States. Thirty-three thousand of these are fatal and 1.9 million cause injuries. That’s an average of more than 18,000 collisions per day.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drivers are the critical reason behind 94% of car accidents. Ninety-two percent of driver-related accidents – that’s roughly 86% of all accidents – involve some error on the part of one or more drivers.
Vehicle issues, environmental factors, and other “unknown critical reasons” occupy 2% of the critical accident factors in the remaining collisions. In other words, even though it is possible that defective brakes or a heavy snowstorm caused a collision, it is much more likely that a driver’s mistake is to blame.
With this in mind, we present the top reasons car accidents happen, with emphasis on driver errors.
Distracted and Inattentive Driving
The largest category of driver-related critical reasons in the NHTSA report was “recognition error”, making up 41% of all driver-related incidents. This category refers to incidents where the driver was distracted, failed to pay adequate attention to their surroundings, or failed to properly survey the area in which they were driving.
Allowing yourself to get distracted while driving is a major mistake that can prove fatal. Distractions can refer to the driver diverting their attention to something inside their vehicle, such as a cell phone, or outside of the vehicle, such as looking at billboards.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the U.S., an average of eight people are killed in accidents involving a distracted driver every day. Some of the most common distractions include:
- Cell phone use
- Adjusting the radio or climate controls
- Talking to passengers
- Pets and young children
- Applying makeup
As the last bullet item implies, distractions don’t necessarily have to involve a specific person, object, or activity. The driver can simply have their mind on things other than the road. This is especially problematic if the driver is fatigued or emotional.
Driver inattention can be caused by many things, but the consequences can always be deadly.
Speeding and Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Speed-related accidents can involve a driver who was exceeding the speed limit, but they can also include situations where the driver failed to adjust their speed for conditions. Driving too fast around a curve, for example, is a common reason for single-vehicle accidents.
Drivers who fail to think defensively and leave little space for others on the road are much more likely to cause accidents. For example, the overwhelming majority of rear-end collisions are caused by drivers following too closely. Weaving between lanes and making illegal maneuvers are other characteristics common to aggressive drivers.
By behaving contrary to how others do on the road, aggressive drivers can involve others in accidents with little to no forewarning. These accidents also tend to be more serious compared to the average collision, with a higher likelihood of injury and disabled vehicles.
While some crash situations can be avoided with careful maneuvering, only a slim number of collisions in the NHTSA study were listed with “performance error” as a critical reason. Overcorrecting from a skid and failing to avoid obstacles are examples of performance errors.
Just 11% of driver-related collisions – around 10% of all accidents – involved such an error. Instead, most collisions where outstanding driver performance could have averted the accident were caused by other errors in the first place.
For example, an individual who fails to accelerate in time after merging may have misjudged a gap on the highway, or the other vehicle failed to recognize the need to slow down and avoid the oncoming vehicle.
Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Both impair your ability to focus, recognize hazards, and react to hazards in time.
Per the NHTSA, 795 road fatalities involved drowsy drivers in 2017.
Ignoring Traffic Signals
Running a stop sign or a red light carries automatic risk. The same applies to maneuvers like passing on a two-lane highway where there are solid double lines.
When individuals choose to ignore or fail to notice traffic signals like these, the accidents that result are often severe. Perpendicular “T-bone” collisions, for instance, often happen as a result of drivers disobeying traffic signals when entering an intersection.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance and Defects
Drivers who do not properly maintain their vehicle risk critical components failing at the moment they are needed most. Brakes without pads, unresponsive steering, or burnt-out headlights can all become major contributors to accidents.
Tires are a common culprit behind vehicle-related accidents. Underinflated tires or worn tread make it more difficult to stop, turn, or evade others in a collision scenario.
In other situations, the manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts introduced defects that caused a performance failure. One major worldwide manufacturer was ordered to pay $1.2 billion in connection with accelerator failures that caused the vehicles to accelerate uncontrollably.
While the risks of vehicle-related incidents do exist, they still only make up 2% of accident causes, according to the NHTSA.
Road Hazards, Bad Weather, and Other Environmental Factors
Like vehicle factors, environmental factors supply the critical reason for accidents in just 2% of scenarios. Even still, factors like hazards in the road, road defects, and severe weather can all contribute to accident scenarios.
In many cases, aspects like poor visibility combine with driver errors to make an accident more likely than it would have been on a bright, clear day.
Of all environmental hazards, slippery roads are the riskiest. Half of all environmental-related accidents were caused by ice, loose debris, or similar situations.
Other environmental factors include glare, view obstructions, fog, heavy rain, poor road design, and hazards like debris and potholes.
Accident Causes as a Component of Injury Claims
Since the majority of accidents involve some form of human error, injury victims are often able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance provider. Even in situations where the accident was caused by non-human factors, any contributing human error can still allow the injury victim to recover some or all of their damages from the appropriate insurance provider.
It is crucial for accident victims to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of their accident to determine which factors played a part in causing their crash and whether one or more other parties may ultimately be responsible.
Car Accident Questions and Answers
How long do I have to report a car accident to my insurance?
If you were involved in a car accident and wish to pursue compensation, one of the first things you need to do is contact your insurance company. After that, you might want to explore options for litigation.
It’s important to note that you can’t just file a lawsuit whenever you feel like it; you have to follow the statute of limitations.
The amount of time in which a person can file a car accident claim varies by state. In Tennessee, the statute of limitations is one year, which means victims wanting to file a lawsuit must do so within one year of the date of the accident.
The time frame to file your car accident insurance claim begins on the day of the accident. It’s important to understand that personal injury claims will often have a different statute of limitations than property damage claims. In Tennessee, car accident victims have three years to file a lawsuit for property damage.