Hit-and-run accidents can result in everything from minor injuries or property damage to fatalities. While the name implies that you cannot find the driver who hit you, a skilled attorney can gather evidence to locate the perpetrator in many cases. No matter your situation, you do not have to face medical and repair bills without compensation.
If you or a loved one are suffering because someone crashed into you in Tennessee and drove away, you need an experienced Bartlett personal injury lawyer on your side. At Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC, our professional legal team will investigate all avenues to discover who is at fault and hold them responsible. Our attorneys will negotiate with insurance companies and litigate tirelessly to obtain the most compensation available to you.
Penalties for Hit-and-Run Accidents in Tennessee
When an accident is minor and involves property damage only, it can be charged as a misdemeanor. However, it is considered a “wobbler” charge and can be filed as a felony instead if the damage is severe enough. A hit-and-run in Tennessee escalates to a felony when someone is hurt or dies or if the driver runs into a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist.
Anyone involved in an accident is required to fulfill specific legal duties, as described by Tennessee law:
- Stop their vehicle at the scene or as close to it as possible without blocking traffic.
- Share their contact and insurance information with all other drivers who are involved.
- Contact the police when the accident results in injury, death, or property damage over $50.
If a driver leaves the accident area without completing these actions, they face penalties if they are caught later on. For felony hit-and-run, there are fines between $5000 and $20,000 with a possible 15-year sentence in state prison. Misdemeanors carry fines ranging from $50 to $2500 and county jail time of 30 days to one year, depending on whether injuries or fatalities are involved. Hit-and-run drivers can also have their licenses suspended or revoked.
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Potential Value of a Hit-and-Run Claim in Tennessee
The state of Tennessee will impose criminal penalties and fines if the driver is located. However, the fines are paid to the court and do nothing to cover your expenses. That is when the services of a hit-and-run lawyer in Bartlett are invaluable in pursuing compensation for you. Your attorney can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance or initiate a personal injury lawsuit.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Damages are usually categorized as economic and non-economic. Economic losses cover specific expenses, such as medical bills, while non-economic damages reimburse you for the pain and suffering you experience. Judges may also award punitive damages when the hit-and-run driver was extraordinarily reckless or negligent.
Some examples of damages that hit-and-run victims usually seek are:
- Hospital costs (ICU, ER, and surgery)
- Travel to medical appointments
- Doctor bills
- Auto or property repair or replacement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Medical devices
- Lost income
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium with your partner
For non-economic damages, there is a limit of $750,000 in Tennessee. In cases of catastrophic injury or death, the limit increases to $1 million. There is no limit on compensation for economic losses.
How Your Insurance Company Can Help
In situations where the driver who hit you cannot be found, your automotive insurance can still help. Tennessee requires that insurance companies include uninsured motorist coverage unless the policyholder specifically declines it. Part of your premium covers any losses you suffer from a hit-and-run driver.
Your attorney can help you negotiate the highest payout from your insurance carrier.
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Act Quickly or Lose Your Chance to File a Claim
Determining the potential value of your claim depends on the unique circumstances of your accident. Your lawyer will listen to your story and develop a customized approach based on the evidence they can gather. They will collect photos, video, witness statements, expert testimony, and other information to support your claim for damages.
All of this takes time, and Tennessee has a very short statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. You have only one year from the date of the crash to file the suit. Considering that you must locate the driver, deal with insurance companies, and try to put together evidence for a claim, one year can go by very fast. The team at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC will use their expertise to take the burden of doing this work off your shoulders.
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Why Drivers Might Hit-and-Run
Every motorist on the road owes a duty of care to everyone else to drive safely and follow the law. Breaching that duty of care is considered negligent, no matter why. While you may be a responsible driver and citizen, others might leave the scene of an accident for different reasons:
- Emotionally distraught and confused
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Unaware they caused an accident
- No insurance coverage
- Suspended or revoked license
- Already under a warrant for their arrest
- Fleeing the scene of a crime
- Afraid of the consequences
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- Hit a pedestrian or bicyclist
- Crashed into a stationary object
Locating the driver can potentially answer why they left the scene, but more importantly, it can give you the chance to seek justice for your injuries. Your hit-and-run attorney in Bartlett can ensure your rights are protected, and your financial needs for recovery are taken into consideration in a civil claim.
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Speak to Bartlett Hit-and-Run Attorney Today
Being the victim of a crash is confusing and painful, especially when the person who hurt you flees the scene. If you feel like you have nowhere to turn for help, you need the guidance of an experienced Bartlett hit-and-run lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC. Our attorneys will work to find the person who hurt you and hold them accountable.
Acting quickly is essential to securing the financial compensation you deserve. Our team will examine the complexities of your case and recommend the best course of action. Contact us for a free consultation to understand your options. Our online form will connect you with our offices today.