The initial moments after a car wreck can be crucial to your recovery, both in the hospital and in the courtroom. While most people believe they know how to react in a high-pressure situation, even the calmest and most capable people can panic in the heat of the moment.
For example, you may know that you're required to stop and exchange details with another party involved in a crash. But how much should you reveal to an at-fault driver—and how much information do you need from them to make a successful claim?
What Information Should I Exchange with the Other Driver?
The first thing you need to do after a crash is call 911. Vehicle owners are required under Tennessee law to report any car accidents that result in injury, death, and $50 or more in property damage. Not only will this protect your health, but it will also help preserve details and evidence if you are too injured to stay at the scene.
Once the police and first responders are on their way, you can exchange your details with the other driver—but you should stick to the following pieces of information:
- License plate number. The vehicle registration number allows the police to trace the owner and identify the vehicle that hit you. You can get this information before approaching the driver in case they drive away or refuse to give you their details.
- Contact details. Record the driver's name, address, phone number, and email address. There's nothing wrong with asking to see their driver's license for these details, as it will help you spell everything correctly (and ensure the other driver doesn't try to give you a fake name).
- Car insurance information. The at-fault driver is responsible for paying the costs of a car accident in Tennessee, so you will need the name, phone number, and policy number of their auto insurance provider. If they carry their proof of insurance in their car, ask if you can snap a picture of it with your phone.
- Name and contact details of the registered owner of the car. If the person driving isn't the owner of the car, you will need the name, phone number, and insurance details of the owner.
What Information Should I Give to the Police?
A police report is a key piece of information that can help your insurance claim or provide vital evidence if you need to file a personal injury lawsuit. Police have the training to assess the accident scene and injuries and the authority to get an at-fault driver to answer questions about the wreck.
In addition to exchanging information with police at the scene, you may have to report the crash to the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS). This requires:
- Meeting the time limit. Drivers are required to file a report to the DOS within 20 days after an accident that involves death, injuries, or property damages over $1,500. If you fail to make a report, you could lose your driver's license or face suspension of your car's registration.
- Providing information about the accident. The DOS will want details about the injuries you and anyone else involved in the accident suffered, as well as any property damage related to the crash.
- Showing proof of insurance. Once your submission is complete, you may be asked to show proof of insurance. Even if you are not the one at fault, it's a good idea to provide these details because it shows that you are a law-abiding citizen.
Should I Give Details of the Crash to Anyone Else?
NO! Once you have spoken with the proper authorities, you should limit discussions about the accident to those who absolutely need to know. Do not post anything on social media about the crash and never give a statement to the insurer of the at-fault driver.
If you were injured in a wreck caused by someone else's negligence, contact the legal team at GriffithLaw today or give us a call at (615) 823-8233. We work to get you the compensation you deserve, explain all costs to you, and don't collect any payment unless your case is successful. To learn more about getting compensation after a car wreck, download our Free Guide to Getting Your Doctor Bills Paid After a Car Crash.