Brief Fact Summary.
Balentine (Defendant), drunk in his tractor, collided with McIntyre (Plaintiff), speeding in his pickup truck.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A plaintiff may recover damages when they are at fault for less than half of the negligence, minus the percentage for which plaintiff is at fault.
In all trials where the issue of comparative fault is before a jury, the trial court shall instruct the jury on the effect of the jury's finding as to the percentage of negligence as between the plaintiff or plaintiffs and the defendant or defendants McIntyre.View Full Point of Law
Balentine (Defendant) was intoxicated while driving his tractor. He collided with McIntyre (Plaintiff) who was speeding in his pickup truck. Plaintiff was injured.
Was the trial court correct in its judgment that Plaintiff can recover nothing because of his 0wn carelessness?
No, the Court held that Plaintiff’s own carelessness did not completely bar him from recovering damages, instituting a system of comparative fault. The Court remanded for a new trial.
Historically, Tennessee’s rule of contributory negligence had barred plaintiffs from recovery with few exceptions. The Court decided to abandon this old rule in favor of a system of comparative fault, as many other states had done. Specifically, the Court decided upon a modified comparative fault system in which the plaintiff would be able to recover so long as their negligence was less than that of the defendant. A plaintiff’s damages would still be reduced by the percentage which was caused by the plaintiff.