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Can I Sue a Driver for Negligence If I Can’t Remember the Accident?

Following a car accident, it is important to take note of any evidence that may later help reconstruct events. If you are injured in the accident and need to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver, you will need to present evidence establishing the defendant’s culpability. Unfortunately, there may be cases where there is a lack of evidence due to the circumstances of the accident. For example, there may be no eyewitnesses to the accident.

Lack of Causation Evidence Leads to Lawsuit’s Dismissal

Indeed, in some cases the accident victim is not a credible eyewitness because he or she simply has no recollection of what happened. This problem arose in a recent car accident lawsuit dismissed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The underlying car accident took place in Hamilton County, Tennessee, in 2013. Two cars collided head-on. There were apparently no other persons present besides the drivers of the two vehicles, and one driver was killed.

The surviving driver sued the widow of the deceased driver, alleging his negligence caused the accident. The plaintiff himself had “no memory of what happened.” The only available evidence was an accident report prepared by a Hamilton County sheriff’s deputy. The deputy said he could not locate any eyewitnesses to the accident, and based on his own survey at the scene, he “was not able to determine the point of impact.” A toxicology report on the deceased driver also indicated the presence of prescription opioid painkillers in his system at the time of death.

The plaintiff argued the toxicology report established that the decedent was “intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle,” which is considered negligence under Tennessee law. The problem, according to the trial judge, was that even if the deceased driver was legally intoxicated, that did not prove he caused the accident with the plaintiff. “There is no evidence that [the decedent] crossed over into the Plaintiff’s lane of travel or did anything else to cause the collision,” the judge said in a written opinion granting summary judgment to the defendant and dismissing the plaintiff’s lawsuit.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s decision. In addition to the reasons given by the trial judge, the appeals court noted the plaintiff failed to present a timely affidavit in response to the defendant’s summary judgment motion. Tennessee court rules require such an affidavit whenever a plaintiff requires additional time to present evidence in support of their lawsuit.

Get Advice From a Tennessee Car Accident Attorney

It is always advisable to gather as much evidence as possible in support of a personal injury claim before going to court. This is especially important where, as in the case described above, there is no eyewitness testimony and even the victim cannot recall the circumstances leading to his injuries. A trial court will not simply take a plaintiff’s word at face value that the defendant was negligent.

If you have been injured in a car accident and need advice from an experienced Knoxville personal injury lawyer on how to proceed, contact the offices of Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette,  Attorneys at Law, right away.

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