Under Tennessee law, it’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident. Hit and run drivers can face a class C misdemeanor at a minimum. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are on the rise. Many hit and run drivers are uninsured and flee to avoid liability and jail time. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), about 13% of drivers in the United States are uninsured, but Tennessee ranks 5th in the nation with 20% of drivers lacking car insurance. The Tennessee Department of Public Safety reports nearly 16,500 hit and run accidents every year in the state.
When an at-fault driver speeds away from the scene of an accident, an innocent victim is often left to pick up the pieces. At Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC, we represent injury victims in hit and run accidents. If you have been hurt by a driver who fled the scene, our Arlington hit and run attorneys can help you explore your legal options.
Your Rights in an Arlington Hit and Run Accident
Tennessee law protects victims of hit and run accidents. In Arlington, TN, it’s illegal for any driver to leave the scene of an accident. Victims of a hit and run have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the person who caused the accident when the driver is located.
You have options when you are injured by a hit and run driver. If the police or your injury attorneys can locate the driver responsible for the accident, you can sue the driver. You will need to prove negligence to win your lawsuit. It is possible to recover damages for your medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the negligent driver. You may even be able to receive punitive damages in a court case, especially if the driver was intoxicated.
Unfortunately, this option does not always work. If the driver fled because they lacked insurance, they probably do not have enough assets to pay your damages because they weren’t paying for basic liability coverage. In this case, winning a judgment still will not give you any compensation. Still, some drivers flee the scene because they were drunk. They may have insurance and/or assets you can pursue in a claim.
If the driver can’t be located, you still have another option: filing a claim against your own policy. Tennessee requires that all auto insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage. This provision allows you to recover compensation under your own policy. In addition to covering accidents involving uninsured drivers, your policy can cover you if the at-fault driver can’t be located or you were a pedestrian and not actually driving.
Even after filing a claim with your insurance, it may be possible for police to later locate the driver. Your injury lawyer may also uncover evidence or witness statements that lead to the driver’s identity.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
When you are the victim of a hit and run accident, you may feel shock and disbelief at first. You can make your case easier, however, by remembering to do just a few things after the accident.
Get as much information as possible about the driver and the car, including the color, make, and model of the car. Note if there were any witnesses who can provide a statement or may have more information to provide. Get contact information for any witnesses.
After the accident, contact the police as soon as possible as well as your insurance company. The next step is contacting Arlington hit and run attorneys to help you explore your options and try to locate the at-fault driver.
Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC represents victims of hit and run accidents, including accidents involving pedestrians and catastrophic injuries. Our firm can help you navigate the legal complexities of your case, gather evidence, and represent you during negotiations with the insurance company. Contact us today to request a consultation to review your case.