There Was No Guardrail and I Went Off the Mountain!

I was driving in East Tennessee.  A big truck came over the center-line into my lane and I swerved to avoid it.  I lost control and went off the mountain.  My friend who was in the car behind me saw the whole thing.  He told me that I went through a hole in the guardrail and that the hole had been caused by another wreck nine months earlier that the State of Tennessee had never repaired.   What are my rights?

First, if you can identify the trucking company and truck driver you would have a claim against them for crossing the center-line and forcing you off the road.

Second, even if you can’t identify the trucking company, you may have a uninsured motorist claim that you can assert against your own insurance company.  Tennessee law permits you to make a claim on your own insurance when an unknown driver (called a "John Doe" driver) negligently causes a wreck.  The fact that your friend saw the wreck is critical to being able to prove this claim.

Finally, you may have a claim against the State of Tennessee for negligent failure to maintain the guardrail.  The validity of this claim will depend on whether the State had notice that the guardrail was missing.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine what rights you have.  Remember than under Tennessee law most personal injury claims must be filed in court within one year of the date of the wreck causing your injuries.