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Tennessee hit-and-run laws require that anyone involved in an accident stay at the scene of the incident and provide their information. Failure to do so can carry significant fines and penalties. If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident in Tennessee, find out what steps to take and whether or not your car insurance will help repair the damage.
Hit-and-runs in Tennessee
When someone is involved in a collision with another car, someone’s property or a person, and does not stop at the scene to provide their information, they have committed a hit-and-run. These types of accidents have increased in recent years, with 48 hit and runs involving at least one fatality occurring in Tennessee in the last year that data was available, according to the AAA Foundation.
Further, in a study published in 2021, the Insurance Research Council estimated that 23.7 percent of Tennessee drivers are uninsured — the third highest rate in the country. One of the best ways to financially protect yourself while on Tennessee roads is to have sufficient car insurance in place.
This includes having uninsured motorist coverage, which covers you if you are involved in an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance to cover your injuries or if you’re the victim of a hit and run. Keep in mind that uninsured motorist coverage breaks down into two separate coverage types, one for injuries and lost wages and one for property damage (which is not available in all states but is available in Tennessee). Collision coverage could also help pay for damage to your car, but you would be responsible for the deductible before insurance kicks in.
Tennessee law requires that insurers offer you uninsured motorist coverage, but you can decline it in writing. If you don’t have this type of coverage, however, you could be responsible for paying any out-of-pocket costs for medical bills or vehicle repairs if you are the victim of a hit and run.
Tennessee hit-and-run laws
According to Tennessee accident laws, if you cause an accident with injuries or death of another person in a public area — near a shopping center, apartment complexes or on highways — you must stop at or as close to the scene as possible, provide your information and render aid. The information you must be prepared to provide includes your name, address, vehicle registration number and insurance information. Rendering aid means you must provide reasonable assistance, including calling an ambulance to assist the victim.
Additional important laws include:
- If it is suspected that property damage of $1,500 or more has occurred, the driver is required to notify the police about the accident.
- Failure to stop and provide your information to the impacted party or property owner could result in a Class A misdemeanor, fines up to $2,500, up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and driver’s license suspension.
- A Class E felony may result if you fail to stop despite reasonable belief that the accident resulted in death and could be punishable by up to six years in jail and potentially having your driver’s license revoked.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run in Tennessee and get a ticket for leaving the scene, you could face higher insurance rates, a canceled policy or be required to carry high-risk car insurance.
5 things to do after a hit and run in Tennessee
If you cause an accident, no matter how minor, it is best to stop as close as possible to the scene to provide your insurance information and render aid if needed to avoid being charged with a hit and run.
But with a high rate of uninsured drivers in Tennessee, you may become a victim of a hit and run at some point. If you are the victim of a hit and run in Tennessee, follow these steps:
- Stop the car: If another driver has hit you, stop as close to the scene as is safe to do so.
- Assess the scene: If your car is driveable and in the roadway, move to the shoulder near the accident scene. If the car is not driveable, get out of the car if you are not injured and wait nearby to avoid being involved in another accident, especially if you are traveling a busy road.
- Call for help: Make sure you and your passengers are okay, and call the police, especially if the at-fault driver has left the scene, creating a hit-and-run scenario. If someone is injured, notify the police that an ambulance is also needed at the scene.
- Document what happened: While it is still fresh, detail the weather conditions, the location where the accident occurred and any other details you can remember. Take photos of your car from all angles.
- Contact your car insurance company: Even if the other person involved or responsible for the accident leaves the scene, you should contact your insurance company to file a claim and make them aware of the situation. Provide as much detail as you can to your insurance provider. If you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to file a claim to help pay for damage or injuries.
Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?
If you are at fault for an accident in Tennessee, your liability coverage will help pay for the injuries and damage sustained by other parties and property. If you are the victim of a hit and run in Tennessee, you will need to have coverage in place prior to the accident in order for your insurance provider to help pay for the expenses you incur.
Those types of coverage include:
- Medical payments: Helps pay for your medical bills if you are injured in an accident.
- Uninsured motorist property damage: Helps pay to fix your car if you are the victim of a hit and run or the other driver does not have insurance.
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury: Helps pay for your injuries if the other driver leaves the scene or does not have insurance.
- Collision coverage: Helps pay for damage to your car as the result of any collision with another vehicle.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage or collision coverage in Tennessee and file a claim for a hit and run, you will likely be required to pay a deductible. There is typically no deductible for liability bodily injury or property damage or medical payments coverage.
Frequently asked questions
The cost of car insurance can vary depending on a number of factors, including your driving history, vehicle make and model, ZIP code and more. All this information is taken into account when calculating your insurance premium. The average cost of full coverage car insurance in the state of Tennessee is $1,429 per year. For minimum coverage in Tennessee, the average rate is $371 per year.
Tennessee is an at-fault state, which means the driver found at fault in an accident is responsible for the injuries and property damage they cause. Most insurance experts recommend purchasing more than the state-required minimum liability insurance to better protect your finances but speak with a licensed agent if you aren’t sure what’s right for you.
If you leave the scene of the accident in Tennessee, you may face a number of penalties depending on the severity of the crash and who is involved. You can face a class A misdemeanor for an accident that causes property damage or up to a Class E felony if you fail to stop after an accident that may have resulted in death or serious injury. Penalties can range from $50 in fines and 30 days in jail to up to $2,500 in fines and up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, as well as suspension of your driver’s license for more serious accidents.