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What Tennessee’s Liability Insurance Coverage Limits Mean to You


In January 2017, Tennessee state law changed the way that law enforcement verified if a driver had liability insurance coverage. Drivers who fail to have the required coverage are now subject to the possibility of losing their vehicle registration and a greater risk of increased fines. Underinsured drivers could also be subject to a class C misdemeanor charge.

Tennessee is sixth in the United States for the largest population of uninsured motorists. This means that one in five motorists is uninsured or underinsured. The tougher penalties the law enacted are meant to encourage more people to follow the law and protect the people on the road that are properly insured.

Case Study: Bates v. Greene 

In 2011, Bates, the plaintiff, was injured in an accident involving defendant Greene. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit within the one-year statute of limitations but was unable to serve the civil warrant because it was returned. Two years later, the warrant was amended to include the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist insurance carrier as the defendant. The insurance company filed a motion to dismiss the motion stating that the claim was barred by the one-year statute of limitations.

The Court ultimately followed the precedent of the Tennessee Supreme Court that said it found no basis in case law or the uninsured motorist statute that required the plaintiff to serve the uninsured motorist carrier within the one-year limitation of the accident. The dismissal of the case was reversed. In this case, the claim itself results from a contract between the parties not from a personal injury.

Tennessee Auto Insurance Requirements 

The state of Tennessee requires that drivers carry certain amounts of coverage in the event of an accident. This coverage requires $25,000 for bodily injury, $50,000 for bodily injury when two or more people are harmed, and $15,000 for property damage. These amounts may cover injuries suffered by pedestrians, drivers, and passengers in an accident, but they typically do not cover injury or property damage to the driver that is found at fault for the accident.

What If You’re Injured in an Accident

Tennessee is a “fault” state which means that whoever is legally found liable for causing the accident is also responsible for paying any losses associated with the crash. If you are the victim of someone else’s actions that caused an accident you have several options that include:

  • Filing a claim with your own insurance carrier that will typically seek reimbursement for the claim from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
  • File a thirty-party insurance claim directly with the driver’s insurance company that was found to be at fault.
  • File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to seek compensation for injuries and damages caused by the actions of the at-fault driver.

Someone who has been involved in an accident, whether they were the passenger, driver, or a pedestrian, may choose only one of the above options, or they may try all the options depending on the situation.

Contact an Attorney for Help

If you have been the victim of an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced attorney to find out what your rights are and to be certain you meet the appropriate statute of limitations for your case. In Nashville, Calhoun Law, PLC is experienced with Tennessee uninsured and underinsured laws and can help you determine what is the best way to handle your case.




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