Between January 2016 and June 2019, there were 2,326 car accidents that killed or seriously injured someone in Knoxville. Those who suffer serious injuries in a car accident might face a lifetime of medical treatment, physical and mental therapy, and medication.
Injuries related to car crashes often cause serious disabilities that prevent people from earning a living. These accident victims may even need caretakers to help them meet their daily needs such as shopping, cooking, and showering.
In addition, car accident victims often receive considerable bills for medical care and living expenses, even though they can’t work.
When car accident injuries result from the negligent actions of someone else, victims can seek compensation for their losses from the at-fault party.
To learn more about the compensation you may legally be entitled to for your injuries, contact The Champions for the Injured at NST Law to schedule a free case evaluation. During your evaluation, your Knoxville personal injury lawyer will establish what compensation you’re entitled to and what documentation you will need to prove your case.
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Knoxville Car Accident Statistics
The Knoxville metropolitan area, including Knox County, has the third-highest number of licensed drivers in Tennessee. These drivers clog Knoxville’s roads. And more drivers usually mean more crashes.
In a five-year study that concluded in 2021, the state recorded an average of 13,589 car accidents every year in Knoxville. These accidents caused an average of 63 deaths per year during the study. Knoxville car accidents injured an average of 2,836 motorists, motorcyclists, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists every year.
Despite having an average of over 347,000 licensed drivers, Knox County ranks 12th in the rate of total crashes among Tennessee’s 95 counties. Even more importantly, Knox County is 16th in the rate of injury crashes and 81st in the rate of fatal crashes.
Statistically speaking, this means Knox County drivers are much safer drivers than the drivers in other metropolitan areas, including Nashville (first in crash injury rate) and Memphis (first in total crash rate).
Most Dangerous Roads in Knoxville
TPO analyzes crashes in Knoxville to determine where infrastructure investments might make locals safer.
In a study spanning 2016 to 2019, the TPO determined that 30 percent of Knoxville car accidents happen on major arterial roads, even though these arteries only account for 4 percent of the roads in Knoxville.
The major roads identified by the TPO include:
- W. Broadway in Maryville
- Chapman Highway
- Henley Street
- Broadway in Knoxville
- Clinton Highway
- Western Avenue
- Magnolia Avenue
- Alcoa Highway
- Clinch Avenue in Clinton
- Maryville Highway
- Charles G. Seivers Blvd.
- Maynardville Pike
- Kingston Pike
These roads account for most of the traffic in the Knoxville metro area and, consequently, attract cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. So much activity increases the risk of:
- Aggressive driving
- Blindspot accidents
Congested roads also make speeding, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving more likely to cause an accident.
Car accidents that cause injury or death tend to cluster along interstate freeways as well. Although interstates eliminate intersections, pedestrians, and bicyclists, they also have higher speed limits.
When accidents happen in Knoxville on I-40, I-640, I-140, and I-75, the force involved in these crashes can often injure or kill vehicle occupants.
Liability for Knoxville Car Accidents
Tennessee uses a fault-based car insurance system. Therefore, everyone injured in a car accident can file claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Tennessee requires every vehicle owner to buy auto insurance. The insurance policy must include bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage pays third parties who get injured in an accident caused by the policyholder. Bodily injury liability does not cover injuries to the policyholder.
Liability for car accidents depends on the actions that led to the collision. You can file an injury claim if the other driver acted intentionally or negligently in causing the accident.
Injured people occasionally assert that the at-fault driver acted intentionally to cause the accident. To prove the other driver intentionally caused your car crash, you must prove they purposefully took action to bring about a collision.
This rule doesn’t require you to prove the other driver intended you harm. You only need to prove that the other driver intended to hit you or scare you.
This scenario arises most often in road rage accidents. Suppose another driver, upset about something, honked to get your attention then swerved into your lane. In cutting you off, the other driver clipped the front of your car, causing a crash that injured you.
In this example, you might claim that the other driver acted intentionally or recklessly.
Negligence happens when someone does something that they knew or should have known could result in harm to you. The key difference between intentional actions and negligent actions is what you have to prove about the other driver’s mindset.
For intentional actions, you must prove the other driver’s intent to commit the act that caused the crash. For negligent actions, you only need to prove that the other driver should have known not to do whatever caused the crash.
To prove negligence, you must establish the following four elements.
Drivers have a legal duty to other travelers to drive in a reasonably prudent manner. This duty extends to:
- Other motorists and their passengers
As a result of this legal duty, every driver must exercise reasonable care while driving.
Drivers breach the duty of reasonable care when they do something that is objectively unreasonable. In many cases, this breach arises from a traffic violation. For example, speeding, failing to yield, or following too closely can result in both a traffic citation and liability for any accident a driver causes.
But a driver does not need to get a traffic citation to bear liability for an accident. Suppose a driver checked their mirrors but did not look into their blind spot before changing lanes. As a result of this failure, the driver collided with your vehicle.
A police officer may determine that no infraction happened, but the driver may still bear liability for your injuries.
Sometimes, nobody bears liability for an accident. If everyone acted with reasonable care, no one driver is at fault. If you got injured when another driver slid into your car on an icy road, a claims adjuster or jury might conclude the other driver did nothing wrong.
In Tennessee, causation has two parts. Cause-in-fact means that the breach fell within the chain of events that resulted in your injury. A driver who negligently hit a utility pole that fell onto your car was the cause-in-fact of your accident.
Proximate cause means that the breach was something that could foreseeably result in an injury. This does not mean that the at-fault driver must foresee your exact injury or how it happened. Instead, it means that the action was something that a reasonable person would avoid doing because it could injure someone.
Your compensatory damages can be economic or noneconomic. Economic damages include all of the ways your injuries affected your finances. Economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages due to missed work
- Diminished earning capacity due to disabilities
- Cost of replacement services, like childcare, that you cannot perform
Non-economic damages cover all of the ways your injuries diminish your quality of life. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Inability to engage in activities
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Noneconomic damages depend on the severity and duration of your injuries. More severe injuries and longer-lasting injuries will usually result in larger noneconomic damages.
Tennessee law states that punitive or exemplary damages — damages meant to punish the defendant and deter similar misconduct — can’t exceed double the amount of compensatory damages awarded or $500,000.
Top Causes of Knoxville Car Crashes
Tennessee releases statistical data on the causes of car accidents in the state based on crash reports. These reports come from:
- Tennessee Highway Patrol
- Local police agencies
- Self-reports filed by drivers
Knoxville crashes have several preventable causes, including distracted and intoxicating driving and speeding.
Distracted driving has become one of the most dangerous activities on American roads. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control describes distracted driving as any activity that takes the driver’s hands, eyes, or mind off driving. Distracted driving slows a driver’s reaction time by delaying their perception of, or reaction to, a road or traffic hazard.
Tennessee’s definition of distracted driving includes several traffic law violations, such as:
- Inattentive driving
- Texting while driving
- Using GPS
- Using a cell phone
- Operating a computer or other electronic device
- Using a two-way radio
- Tending to food, drinks, pets, or children in the car
- Getting distracted by things outside the vehicle, such as accidents
Between 2010 and 2019, Knoxville averaged over 965 distracted driving crashes per year. After seeing a big drop in distracted driving crashes in 2013, Knoxville’s numbers increased steadily from 2017 to 2019.
Speeding accidents take several forms. Speeding can cause a crash because drivers have greater difficulty controlling vehicles at high speeds. Speeding vehicles do not brake or steer as easily.
Speeding also increases the time it takes to react to road hazards and other drivers. As a result, speeding drivers can cause an accident before even seeing or reacting to the conditions around them.
Further, speeding accidents happen when the driver travels too fast in environmental conditions such as:
- Liquid spills
- Traffic congestion
Traveling too fast for the conditions can happen when a driver travels below the speed limit but too fast based on their surroundings. For example, on a snowy day, a driver traveling at 50 miles per hour might be traveling too fast for the conditions, even though the posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour on that road.
According to the five-year study of Tennessee traffic accidents mentioned previously, Knoxville averages about 491 speeding accidents every year.
Young drivers cause more accidents than experienced drivers. In the five-year study of Tennessee crashes cited earlier, Knoxville has nearly 42,000 drivers under the age of 24. Many of these drivers attend the University of Tennessee and the other colleges and universities in the Knoxville metropolitan area.
Because young drivers tend to cause more distracted driving accidents and have less experience than older drivers, there’s a greater likelihood that they will:
- Take risks while driving
- Misjudge the speed or distance of a vehicle
- Misinterpret the intentions of other drivers
- Drive while intoxicated
Between 2017 and 2021, the five-year study of Tennessee car accidents discussed above found that Knoxville had an average of over 5,800 accidents every year involving drivers under the age of 24.
Senior drivers also have an increased risk of causing an accident. Seniors may have a variety of challenges that can interfere with their ability to drive, including:
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
- Diminished strength
- Decreased flexibility
- Slowed reflexes
- Medical conditions that could disable the driver
- Medications that affect driving
Many states have adopted processes to review licenses when senior drivers reach certain ages. Tennessee does not do this. Instead, Tennessee gives family members and friends the ability to submit a request for a special test for senior drivers. The request must include a letter from the senior’s doctor outlining the specific condition that impairs them.
The five-year study of Tennessee car accidents mentioned above also found that Knoxville has an average of more than 71,000 drivers over the age of 65. The study found that these drivers cause about 2,700 car accidents every year.
Knoxville has a surprisingly low number of drunk driving accidents. It averages about 470 drunk driving crashes every year. When you account for the population of the Knoxville metro area, the five-year study of Tennessee car crashes ranked Knoxville 52nd among Tennessee counties for drunk driving accidents.
Even though Knoxville does not have a lot of drunk driving accidents, these accidents can have devastating effects on accident victims and their families. According to the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO), drunk driving accidents kill 27 Knoxville residents and seriously injure about 67 people annually on average.
Steps to Take After a Knoxville Car Accident
The steps you take after a car accident could determine whether you receive injury compensation. Some steps include:
- Stopping at the accident scene
- Calling the police
- Cooperating with the crash investigation
- Seeking medical attention for injuries
- Not giving the at-fault driver’s insurer a recorded statement
You should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer early in the process. Tennessee residents have only one year from the date of the accident to file an action against the at-fault party.
A personal injury lawyer can document your insurance claim and present arguments if your claim gets denied. If your lawyer cannot overcome the claim denial, they can advise you about filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.