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Shelby County Commissioners in Tennessee Take Tough Stand on Uninsured Drivers

You see the commercials warning you all the time: “Mayhem is around the corner.” “Peace of mind is worth the cost.” These advertisements remind you about the costs you will be responsible for if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured (or underinsured) driver. Uninsured driving has become so prevalent in Memphis that Shelby County Commissioners are considering a law that would allow authorities to impound vehicles if a driver cannot produce proof of insurance.

Essentially, police officers could use their discretion in deciding whether to take away the vehicle. If a vehicle is impounded, owners would have to pay fees for towing and storage, in addition to the citation for “no proof of insurance”. They would also have to show a valid Tennessee driver’s license and actual insurance before getting the car back.

Hit-and-Run Accidents Prompt Focus on Enforcement of Liability Insurance Requirements

Commissioners believe that such a law would be a deterrent to driving without insurance. Various reports indicate that Memphis and Shelby County are notorious for hit and run accidents, primarily because people do not have insurance and want to avoid liability. Authorities also believe that many motorists are driving on suspended licenses, thus adding to the likelihood that they have no insurance.

According to the Insurance Research Council, nearly one in seven drivers are uninsured, with an estimated 24 percent of drivers in Tennessee without insurance.

The reasons for not having insurance vary, but cost likely plays an important role. The average annual cost of auto insurance in Tennessee is $1297. With the poverty rate within the Memphis metro area at nearly 20 percent, auto insurance may not be an important consideration for some drivers when compared to food, shelter and clothing.

Protecting Yourself from an Uninsured or Uninsured Motorist

Uninsured motorist insurance is important because it may offer coverage in case you are in an accident with someone who has no coverage of his or her own. Uninsured or underinsured coverage can be used for reimbursement of the costs of repairing your vehicle, medical treatment or other motor vehicle accident-related costs.

Many insurance carriers offer this insurance, sometimes at a discount. However, having underinsured coverage is equally as important. This type of insurance bridges the gap between the offending driver’s coverage and the actual costs accrued from the accident.

Tennessee Auto Insurance Requirements

State law requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 of bodily injury coverage with a maximum of $50,000 per accident. Bodily injury coverage provides for lost wages, funeral expenses and medical expenses in the event of an accident where injuries are sustained. This type of coverage would be adequate for accidents that involve minor injuries, but it would not cover those with catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord trauma.

Tennessee drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability coverage to cover vehicles and other property damaged in an accident. This amount may not be sufficient to cover a car that is totaled in an accident. Without underinsured coverage, you would have to find other another way to be compensated for your losses.

If you have the misfortune of being in an accident with an uninsured driver, you should still follow the normal protocols in obtaining as much information as possible: be able to describe the type of car that hit yours, including its make an model, and take down the license plate number. You should find out the other driver’s name as well as any witnesses to the accident. Record everything you can the weather and road conditions and anything unusual about the intersection, traffic lights or signs.

All factors surrounding your car accident may become very important pieces of the puzzle if fault must later be determined. An experienced car accident attorney in your area can help you determine the next steps to take if you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run car accident or by an uninsured or underinsured driver.