When a driver hits an object, another vehicle, or a person and leaves without sharing their contact information, that is a hit-and-run accident. Fleeing the scene of a crash is illegal and can result in felony charges if injuries and damage from the collision are severe enough. Even if a driver hits a parked car in a shopping center and drives off without leaving their identifying details, they can be charged with a hit-and-run.
If you or a loved one has suffered this type of crash, contact a Germantown personal injury lawyer from the offices of Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC. We will work with insurance companies, police, and other groups to identify who hit you. Our skilled attorneys will listen to your story in a free consultation and negotiate to secure the maximum compensation for you.
Tennessee Hit-and-Run Accidents and Penalties
Tennessee allows hit-and-run incidents to be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor charge involves only property-related damage, such as hitting a stationary object like a fence or mailbox. Felony hit-and-run involves injury or death of someone as a result of the accident, such as when a driver strikes a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a motorcyclist.
If they can be located, drivers who leave accidents can face fines, license suspension, and criminal penalties. They also are at risk of a civil lawsuit. Tennessee law requires that all motorists involved in a crash fulfill certain legal duties:
- Remain at or return to the scene of the crash.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with other drivers.
- Call the police if there is an injury or death, or if property damage exceeds $50.
The criminal penalties for felony hit-and-run are fines between $5000 and $20,000 with state prison time up to 15 years. For misdemeanors, drivers will be fined at least $50 and spend 30 days in jail if there is only property damage. If an accident involves injury or death, the punishment is up to $2500 in fines and a year in jail.
Engaging in hit-and-run adds to any other offenses a driver may have committed, such as drunken or distracted driving, speeding, and recklessness. On top of these fines and sentences, drivers could face harsher charges such as vehicular manslaughter if a victim dies. While these criminal fines are paid to the court, a qualified hit-and-run lawyer in Germantown will litigate for civil penalties in a separate personal injury lawsuit to cover all your injuries and property losses.
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Potential Damages in a Hit-and-Run Claim in Tennessee
When a hit-and-run driver can be found, you can pursue the repayment of damages from their insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit. Damages in Tennessee can be paid for economic losses, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost income. Your attorney can also argue for the payment of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship.
Tennessee limits the amount of non-economic compensation you can receive to $750,000 unless you experience catastrophic injury or death. In those cases, the cap is $1 million. In some instances, a judge may award punitive damages if the other driver behaved in an especially reckless or intentional manner. Finally, the Department of Motor Vehicles will usually suspend a hit-and-run driver’s license.
It is critical to contact a lawyer immediately after an accident. Negotiating with your insurance company can take time, but you only have one year to file a personal injury lawsuit if the driver is found. Tennessee has a much shorter statute of limitations than other states, and gathering evidence to support your claim takes time and expertise.
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Hit-and-Run Accidents and Insurance Coverage in Tennessee
Motorists in Tennessee are required to have automotive insurance, with liability minimums per accident of:
- $25,000 for each injury or death
- $50,000 for total injuries or deaths
- $15,000 for property damage
These amounts are meant to pay for damage you cause to other drivers. In the event of a hit-and-run accident, you could be left fighting with your insurance carrier unless you have uninsured motorist coverage. Even if you do have this kind of policy, you should keep detailed records of all expenses to support your claim and receive the full amount of damages.
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How a Germantown Hit-and-Run Attorney Can Help You
In addition to helping you understand your options, an experienced attorney can speak with your insurance company to protect your right to a fair settlement. Your lawyer will know how to push back against insurance adjusters who want to reduce or prevent a payout for your damages. You can also depend on your attorney to negotiate with insurance companies of any other drivers involved in the crash.
Your lawyer’s professional legal team can also conduct investigations to find the driver who hit you. By uncovering evidence such as photos, videos, witness statements, and other documentation, your hit-and-run lawyer takes the burden off your shoulders to hold the person accountable. You can rest easy and recover from your injuries knowing the firm of Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC is working for you.
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Reasons a Driver Might Leave an Accident
An accident is, by definition, unexpected and can be upsetting. If you are hit by someone who speeds off after colliding with you, you may be stunned that they could leave the scene. In some cases, the other driver simply panics and does not know what else to do. There may be many other reasons why someone drives away without stopping, such as:
- They are drunk or high.
- They do not know they caused an accident.
- They are afraid of being charged.
- They do not have insurance.
- They are driving with a suspended license.
- They are driving a stolen vehicle.
- They are afraid of the circumstances.
- They are in the country illegally.
Regardless of why another driver leaves an accident scene, you deserve to know who they are and seek compensation from them if they hurt you. Even if the crash was a minor fender bender, you need the help of a competent attorney to understand all your options and make the best choice for your situation.
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Speak with a Hit-and-Run Attorney in Germantown Now
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries or property damage because someone left an accident in Tennessee, a Germantown hit-and-run lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC is ready to help you secure the compensation you deserve. You should not be left paying out of pocket for damages caused by someone else’s reckless behavior.
When you do not know where to turn, our dedicated attorneys will explain the options and negotiate on your behalf. You can take the time you need to recover while our team focuses on finding the one who hurt you and pursuing justice. Contact our offices using our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation now.