The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that more than one hit and run accident happens every minute in the United States. The National Highway for Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a hit and run accident as an accident where the driver causes an accident and then leaves the scene of that accident. Hit and run accidents can also incur criminal liability for the driver who flees the scene of the accident. If you suffered injuries in a hit and run accident, learn how a Tennessee hit and run accident attorney at Labrum Law Firm at (615) 338-9500 can help you with your case.
Tennessee Hit and Run Accident Laws
In Tennessee, the persons involved in a motor vehicle accident have certain after-accident duties under the law.
Duty to Stop
Under Tennessee laws, a person involved in an accident is required to stop and return to the scene of the accident and offer assistance to other persons injured in the accident. The law further imposes the duty upon the driver to share information including their name, address, and vehicle registration number to the person(s) injured. While stopping at the accident site, the driver must also ensure that he or she is not obstructing traffic on the road.
If injured, the parties must seek immediate medical attention and also call 911. They must also wait for the law enforcement authorities to show up, and then provide law enforcement with their perspective of the accident.
If the driver hits and damages an unattended or parked car or vehicle, then the driver should leave his or her contact information in writing, so that the owner can contact the driver for more details. If the driver hits a fixed object such as a lamp post or other personal property, he or she must inform the person in charge of such property.
Hit and Run Accident Penalties
Depending on the extent and type of damages and injuries, the state of Tennessee indicates that the following penalties can be levied on a driver who flees the accident scene:
- If no injuries happen and the accident only causes property damage of less than $400, then the driver may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, a possible 30-day jail term, and a $50 fine.
- If no injuries happen but the accident results in property damage exceeding $400, then the driver may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail, driving license suspension, and a $50 fine.
- If the accident results in injuries, then the driver with a Class A misdemeanor, driving license suspension, up to 1 year of jail term, and up to $2,500 in fines.
- If the accident results in catastrophic injuries or fatalities, then felony charges or vehicular manslaughter charges and a jail term of up to 6 years may be imposed on the driver.
If you suffered injuries in a hit and run accident, contact our legal team today to learn how a Tennessee hit and run accident attorney at Labrum Law Firm can help you with your case, and help you understand your legal rights.
Steps to be Taken After a Hit and Run Accident
There are several steps you should consider taking after being involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Seek Medical Attention
The victim of a hit and run accident must immediately seek medical attention. If someone else suffers any kind of injuries as well, then the driver must offer reasonable assistance to the injured person and call 911.
Notify the Police
The police should be informed as soon as possible. The police will investigate the scene of the accident and also question the witnesses who were present at the accident site. You should also request a copy of the police report.
Record Important Information
Try to record and preserve important information related to the accident including the date, time, and place, cause, and impact of the accident. Additionally, obtain the contact information of the persons involved. Attempt to take photographs at the accident site if possible, and always preserve your medical and hospital bills, documentation regarding lost wages, and property damage.
Notify the Insurance Company
After the hit and run accident, the victim should take the time to contact their own insurance company. They may have the ability to receive compensation from their own insurance company for any injuries and losses they suffered.
Seeking Compensation in a Hit and Run Accident
Tennessee laws follow the “at-fault” approach. This means that the person responsible for causing an accident is required to pay damages and compensation to the victim of the accident. However, sometimes, the driver of a hit-and-run accident cannot be traced and the victim is unable to file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
In such cases, the victim may have the ability to use his or her own health insurance for the costs related to medical and hospital bills. The victim can also file a claim with his or her own insurance company if the insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage, umbrella insurance, or Medpay.
However, victims should be very careful while speaking to the insurance companies (even their own insurance company) and not make any statements which may later be used against them during a settlement or trial.
Defending a Tennessee Hit and Run Accident
Sometimes, a hit and run accident may be a result of external factors and the driver who did not stop at the accident scene might not be responsible for causing the accident. For example, if the accident was caused due to poor weather conditions or an animal on the road, then the driver may not be liable for hit and run accident charges. In such cases, if identified, the driver should not make any admissions to the police or other persons involved.
Learn How a Tennessee Hit and Run Accident Attorney Can Help
Claiming compensation in a hit and run accident can potentially be a difficult legal process. Sometimes, the driver cannot be traced and the insurance companies do not accept their legal liability to pay a victim the amount of compensation they are owed under the law. If you suffered injuries in a hit and run accident, contact our legal team today to learn how a Tennessee hit and run accident attorney at Labrum Law Firm at (615) 338-9500 can help you with your case.