What Victims Need to Know After a Hit and Run Accident in Tennessee

woman calling police after hit and run car accidentA hit-and-run accident can cause severe injuries for victims, especially pedestrians and cyclists. Without seatbelts and airbags to protect them, these victims can suffer skull fractures, broken bones, internal bleeding, and other injuries that can cause permanent disability. Unfortunately, pedestrian hit-and-run accidents are often fatal, causing overwhelming emotional pain and financial difficulties for surviving family members. No matter if you were struck while on foot or while driving your car, a driver who flees the scene can make your car accident case much more complicated.

Who Pays for the Costs of a Hit-and-Run Collision?

Tennessee is a “fault” state for car accident injuries, meaning the person who caused the accident is legally liable for paying medical bills and other losses related to the crash. However, you cannot file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company if the driver left the scene. You can use your own health insurance to cover crash costs such as emergency care, follow-up appointments, surgery, and physical therapy, as these costs can be recovered by your insurer as part of your settlement.

Your own auto insurance may also be used to cover accident costs if your policy includes:

  • Uninsured motorist coverage. Tennessee law allows hit-and-run accident victims to seek payment through their uninsured motorist coverage if the at-fault driver is never located. If you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your car insurance policy, it may be used to cover your crash costs even if you were not driving when the accident occurred.
  • MedPay. If you have added Medical Payments coverage (MedPay), you can collect funds up to your selected policy limit for medical bills related to the crash.
  • Umbrella insurance. Hit-and-run injuries can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over a person’s lifetime. If your policy includes umbrella insurance, you can collect an additional amount over and above your policy limit once that limit has been reached.

What to Do Immediately After a Hit-and-Run Crash

Unfortunately, a victim’s successful physical and financial recovery depends on the actions he or she takes immediately after the accident occurs. Your case begins at the scene of the crash, at a time where you may not be thinking clearly or physically able to gather evidence. For this reason, it is vital that you take these important steps after a hit and run crash:

  • Allow others to help you. You should not move after an accident unless you are blocking traffic. If witnesses approach you, tell them your name and have them call 911. Ask them to please write down their names, addresses, and phone numbers so they can be identified later, as they may be willing to provide a statement about what happened or a description of the vehicle or driver. 
  • Call the police. The police should always be called to attend a hit-and-run accident scene for a variety of reasons. First, the police will investigate details at the scene and make a record of any evidence that could be used to track down the driver. Second, you and others who witnessed the accident can describe the make and color of the car that hit you, the direction the driver was traveling in, and other distinguishing characteristics to the officer to be included in the record. Finally, you may need a copy of the police report to make your insurance claim, since your own insurer may want proof that the at-fault driver could not be found.
  • Go to the emergency room. Your injuries should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible after a crash. Not only does this allow you to prevent further injuries and alleviate the pain you are in, it will also create a medical record of your condition that will be very important in your injury cases.
  • Notify your insurance company. While you are waiting for the other driver to be identified, you will need to report the accident to your own car insurance company. If you wait to report the accident, your insurer could attempt to deny the claim.
  • Contact an injury attorney. The debilitating nature of hit-and-run injuries makes it extremely difficult for victims to get fair payment for their losses. We have seen firsthand the pain and financial stress that hit-and-run accidents cause, both for our clients and their families. A consultation with our injury attorneys does not cost anything and could be invaluable in your claim against another driver or your own insurance company.

If you are suffering due to someone else’s negligence, we can give you an honest legal opinion on your case and we do not collect anything unless we secure you compensation. To set up a free initial consultation, simply fill out the short contact form on this page. For more information, you can also request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

John Griffith
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Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney