If you are involved in an accident or collision in Tennessee, you must be prepared to act responsibly and in accordance with State law. Following are some general guidelines and more specific requirements to follow in case of an accident.
FIRST AND FOREMOST
As a responsible driver, you must never leave the scene of an accident. Not only is it essential that you provide any necessary help immediately following an accident, but leaving an accident scene can result in having your driving privileges revoked or your license suspended.
After stopping your vehicle, you should pull up as close to the accident as safely possible, without obstructing traffic. Take a moment to assess the situation, and do not panic. Be aware of the traffic situation, and any other potential dangers, such as fire.
You should do your best to provide immediate assistance to other motorists, passengers or pedestrians that may have been injured in the accident. Take extra care when attempting to move an injured person; if possible, wait for an ambulance to arrive. Notify 911 to report any injuries and call for medical assistance. Also inform the local Tennessee police, sheriff or highway patrol.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to stay calm. If possible, ensure that you are out of danger and not blocking any oncoming traffic. Call or wait for help, and do not attempt to move if you are unable to do so.
If you are involved in an accident in Tennessee, you are required to provide certain information to the other parties involved. Likewise, fellow motorists, passengers or pedestrians involved in the accident must share similar information with you. Also, it is often wise to ask for the information of witnesses to the accident just in case you need to have them testify at a later date. The key information to exchange in the aftermath of an accident includes:
- Name, address and contact details
- Driver license number
- License plate number of the vehicles involved
- Auto insurance information for the motorists involved.
It may also be useful to take photographs at the scene of the accident.
If you hit an unattended vehicle, you must make an effort to find the owner or driver, and follow these same procedures. If you are unable to locate the owner of an unattended vehicle, you are required to leave a note indicating your name and contact information, and a brief description of the accident.
REPORTING AN ACCIDENT TO THE TENNESSEE DOS
- In some situations, you must report an accident to the Tennessee Department of Safety. You are required to complete and submit an Owner/Driver Report within 20 days of an accident, if any of the following apply:
- The accident caused injury or death.
- The accident resulted in property damage in excess of $400.
- If you fail to report an accident to the Tennessee DOS, you may have your registration or license suspended. In the event that another driver offers to pay for damages and asks you not to report an accident, you are still required to file the report in any of the situations outlined above.
- Your report must include detailed and current information regarding your insurance coverage. The DOS will cross-check this information with the insurance company shown on the report. If you did not have liability insurance when the accident occurred, you will be fined $100 and your driving privileges will be suspended. You will be required to file proof of future financial responsibility (SR-22) in order to have your driving privileges reinstated.
- Make a copy of the accident report form for your personal records. You can deliver the original to your local Tennessee DOS office or mail it directly to:
Tennessee Department of Safety Financial Responsibility Section 1150 Foster Ave Nashville, Tennessee 37210
- Notify your auto insurance company if you are involved in an accident.
- See also Auto Accident Injuries.
- In the event that you are injured in an auto accident, Retain copies of any medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident.
How & Where to File the Claim
How you will file the claim will depend on a few things. You will need to think about a few things in order to best handle where to file the claim:
1. Whos fault was the accident?
If the accident was your fault, then your only option will be to file the claim with your insurance provider. Assuming your policy is active, all household residents and drivers were properly listed, and coverage exists for the claim, You will want to locate the 800 or website for your insurance company to file the claim.
All auto policies in TN have liability coverage to pay for the other parties injuries and damages to their vehicle with at least the minimum coverage required by the state of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident combined total for injuries to multiple parties, and $15,000 (total) for damage to other peoples vehicle or vehicles or other property such as houses, signs etc. It is a good idea to carry higher than state minimum limits as this does not go very far in an injury claim or multi-vehicle accident.
If your policy has comprehensive and collision coverage, your vehicle will be repaired or replaced at the current Actual Cash Value (ACV) less your chosen deductible. We recommend using the repair centers recommend by your insurance company as they have a direct relationship and are monitored to provide a quick and quality repair. Although you are not required to use one of these companies, your repair experience will typically be much faster and way less hassle if you use one of the recommended providers from your insurance company.
Not Your Fault
If you think the accident was not your fault, you have 2 options on how to proceed with your claim. I will discuss the positives and negatives of each option below:
File with the other parties insurance company:
The other party's insurance company ( assuming their policy is active and coverage exists for the claim) will most likely accept responsibility for the accident and....eventually. Hopefully, you exchanged ID cards at the scene, or a police report was filed. You can get a copy of the police report here. The Crash report will list the other parties' names, the insurance company, and policy number. You simply need to google the claims phone number and give them a call to report the claim. If your policy does not have collision coverage, then this will be your only option.
Benefits of filling this way:
- You will not have report the claim to your insurance
- Will not have to pay your deductible
- If you don't have full coverage (comprehensive, collision, towing and rental car) on your policy, this may be your only choice as your company will not help you navigate the claim if you did not purchase the coverage for them to do so.
Negatives of reporting this way:
- The other party will not accept responsibility until they have spoken to their client first. This could take days weeks or months for them to get their client on the phone for their statement. Nothing will happen on your repairs until they accept liability
- Coverage may not apply to the accident if the driver was unlisted, the policy was not active or the incident was not considered a covered loss by their policy.
- You are not their client, so customer service is out of the question. They will do what they are legally required to do and will get in no hurry to do so.
- You may inadvertently disclose details about the claim that would negate their liability in the claim, causing you to end up with a partial settlement or no settlement at all instead of the full amount.
- You may have to pay for things such as rental cars and towing fees out of pocket upfront and wait for them to reimburse them to you.
File With Your Insurance Company:
Filing a not at fault claim with your insurance company is not necessarily a bad think. In most cases, if you have full coverage (comprehensive, collision, towing, and rental car) on your policy, your claim process will be much smoother and as enjoyable as wrecking your car can be!
Benefits Of Filling this way:
- Your insurance company will fight with the other company for you!
- You will generally get in a rental the same day or very quickly (assuming you have rental car coverage) rather than having to wait for the other party to claim responsibility.
- Your insurance company cares about the process and wants it to be as quick, and easy as it can be.
- Most insurance companies stand behind the repair if you use one of their approved shops
- Your insurance company is on your side and will advocate for all of your medical bills and damages to be compensated in the subrogation process.
- Your insurance company understands the process, and can better navigate the claim with the other party.
- If the other party does not have proper coverage, your company will end up paying for it anyway. If you start off with them, you will get back to your normal life much faster.
Negatives of reporting this way:
- You will have to pay your deductible to the shop upfront to get your car fixed. However, if your insurance company ends up recovering the claim from the other party, they will give you back the deductible. You otherwise would have been denied by the other party and would end up paying your deductible anyway.
- you may have a collision claim on your record until the settlement is recovered from the other party. Generally, your insurance company will not view this in a negative way or increase your rate because of it as they understand the situation and know that it was not your fault. However, it may appear to a new insurance company that you have an open claim that may be your fault until the funds are recovered and the claim closed. As long as you do not intend to try and change insurance companies in the middle of the claim, this should not be an issue.