HIT AND RUN Car Accident On Highway Shoulder

Understanding Your Rights After a Hit-and-Run Accident

Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can leave you feeling vulnerable and uncertain about what steps to take next. At The McMahan Law Firm, we understand the challenges you face and are here to help. Whether you were driving a vehicle that was struck or you were a pedestrian who was hit, it is crucial to know your rights and the actions you should take to protect them. This guide provides essential information to help you navigate the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident in Tennessee.

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Being involved in a car accident is very stressful, especially when the other driver flees the scene. Though it is common knowledge that fleeing the scene of an accident is a very bad idea, some people still choose to run away. If you are the owner of the vehicle that was struck or a pedestrian who was hit, you must know what to do after a hit-and-run car accident. At McMahan Law Firm, your Chattanooga car accident injury attorney, we want to arm you with the knowledge you need to get through your case successfully.

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What is Defined as “Hit and Run”?

While it is obvious that a driver who strikes a vehicle or person and immediately flees is committing a hit-and-run, the definition also includes other scenarios. For instance, drivers can be charged if they stop but do not provide their information, give false information, or leave before emergency personnel arrive. 

Additionally, hit-and-run laws apply not only to roadways but also to places like parking lots. If you hit another vehicle in a parking lot and leave without leaving your information and an explanation of the accident, you can be charged with a hit-and-run. There are exceptions where drivers may not be charged if they immediately go to the closest area to call for first responders. 

Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of an Accident

Penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident in Tennessee, as outlined in TN Code § 55-10-102 (2021), vary based on the extent of the damage. If the damage to vehicles or property does not exceed $1,500, the offender faces a Class B misdemeanor. If the damage exceeds $1,500, it results in a Class A misdemeanor. Additionally, fleeing the scene can lead to the suspension of the driver’s license for at least one year. Even with an Automated Driving System (ADS), the vehicle’s owner or a representative must report the accident and ensure the vehicle remains on the scene until emergency personnel arrive.

How Can You Recover Damages?

Tennessee is a fault state, meaning that the driver responsible for the accident is liable for the damages. If the hit-and-run driver is identified, their insurance should cover your expenses. However, if the driver is not found, you can rely on your own insurance coverage. MedPay, uninsured motorist coverage, umbrella insurance, and collision coverage are all potential sources of compensation. We can review your policy and help you understand your coverage and options, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

Steps To Take After a Hit-and-Run

Knowing what to do after a hit-and-run accident is crucial for protecting your rights and ensuring you can recover damages. Follow these steps to safeguard your well-being and strengthen your claim. By taking prompt and appropriate actions, you can navigate the aftermath of the accident more effectively and improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.

Get To Safety and Get Medical Attention

Your immediate priority should be your safety and health. Move to a safe location away from traffic, and if you or anyone else is injured, seek medical attention immediately. Even if you feel fine, it’s essential to get checked by a healthcare professional, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.

File a Police Report

Contact the police as soon as possible to report the accident. Provide them with all the details you can remember, including the make and model of the other vehicle, license plate number, and any distinguishing features of the driver or vehicle. A police report will be crucial for your insurance claim and any legal action.

Collect Evidence From the Scene

Gather as much evidence as you can from the scene of the accident. Take photos of your vehicle, the location, and any visible injuries. If there were any witnesses, get their contact information and ask for their account of the accident. This evidence will support your claim and help establish the facts of the incident.

Inform Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with the police report number and any evidence you’ve collected. Your insurance policy may have specific time limits for reporting accidents, so it’s important to act quickly to ensure your claim is processed.

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Being the victim of a hit-and-run can be devastating, especially if the person at fault is never charged. In these cases, it is so important to have uninsured motorist insurance to cover the cost of your medical bills and lost wages. If you do not have a policy that includes uninsured motorist insurance, we highly recommend adding one to your plan. If you would like legal counsel about what to do after a hit-and-run car accident, contact a representative with The McMahan Law Firm, your Chattanooga personal injury firm.