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What to Do After a Car Accident in Tennessee

Offered by Law Office of Eric Beasley

Take immediate action to make sure your rights are protected

Car accidents happen every day in Middle Tennessee and across the state – on major highways like I-40, in downtown Nashville, on side streets, and on rural roads. It only takes a moment of inattention or recklessness on the part of another motorist to change your life forever.

The two most important things you can do after any accident are to get medical attention and contact an attorney. Seeing a doctor protects your health, and talking to a lawyer protects your legal rights. Here’s what you should do – and not do – after a car wreck in Tennessee.

Call 911 and wait for the police to arrive

Unless you must leave to get emergency medical attention, Tennessee law requires you to remain at the scene of an accident that causes injury or significant property damage. Call 911 and wait for the Tennessee Highway Patrol or local law enforcement to arrive. The police will secure the scene and get medical attention for anyone who needs it.

The police will also investigate the accident and prepare an official accident report, which will become a key piece of evidence in your case. Your attorney can help you understand and interpret your accident report in a free consultation.

If the other driver flees the scene (hit and run), then try to get their license plate number or a description of the vehicle. Don’t try to pursue the hit-and-run driver. Leave that to the police.

Exchange contact information and start gathering evidence

By law, you’re required to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. If your accident happened to involve a commercial or municipal vehicle, get the contact information for the driver’s employer as well. You should also get names and contact information for any witnesses, as well as the name and badge number of the investigating police officer.

However, in your conversations at the scene, keep your comments brief and stick to the facts. Don’t say anything pertaining to fault or speculate as to why the accident happened. Don’t say anything downplaying your injuries, either. “I’m fine” might be an honest effort to comfort the other driver, but an insurance adjuster can seize on that comment as proof that you weren’t really injured.

What you can and should do is start collecting evidence. Take pictures and video of the scene, including the positions of the vehicles, skid marks (or lack thereof), property damage, surrounding conditions, and any visible injuries. If there are security cameras nearby, take note of their locations as well. All this evidence will play an important role in your claim for compensation.

Get medical attention as soon as possible

Again, this is one of the most important things you can do after an accident, even if you feel fine. After any traumatic event, including a car crash, your body’s natural “fight or flight” response engages, raising your adrenaline levels and dulling your perception of pain. This is your body’s way of helping you survive the accident, but it can also be dangerous in the aftermath by hiding certain symptoms of an injury. Plus, car wrecks sometimes cause “hidden” injuries such as concussions and internal bleeding.

Don’t take any chances with your health. Get checked out by emergency responders at the scene, then see a doctor as soon as possible, ideally the same day. Go to the emergency room, an urgent care clinic, or your primary care provider. Tell the doctor about every symptom, no matter how minor.

Then, go to your follow-up appointments, get any recommended medical tests done, take your medications as prescribed, and otherwise follow your doctor’s instructions. This is important for two reasons: it will help you heal, and it will show the insurance company that you’re doing what you need to do to get better.

Be sure to save copies of your doctor’s orders, visit summaries, medical bills, and other documents. Medical records verify your injuries and support your claim for compensation.

Notify your insurance company, but be cautious

You’re generally required to notify your insurance company promptly after a car accident. However, you need to be careful, because even though they’re ostensibly on your side, they still have a financial interest in paying you as little as possible. Tell your insurance company the basic facts of what happened and don’t volunteer any additional information. Don’t go into detail about your injuries, either. Saying “I am getting medical treatment” is fine.

If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, you don’t have to talk to them at all. They are most likely just looking for reasons to reduce or deny your claim.

It’s in your interest to treat anything you hear from an insurance company with a healthy degree of skepticism. If they ask you to provide a recorded statement, politely decline. If they ask you to sign a release, have your lawyer look it over first. And if they make a settlement offer, definitely review it with your attorney before you accept. Once you take the insurance company’s money, there’s no going back for more.

Contact a Tennessee car accident lawyer

Again, besides getting medical attention, the single most important thing you can do after a car accident is to get legal advice. It’s never too soon to contact a lawyer. You can even call an attorney from the scene of the accident if you’re able to do so.

However, it can absolutely be too late. Tennessee is tied for the shortest statute of limitations (legal deadline) in the country: just one year from the date of the crash. If you don’t file a lawsuit by that deadline, you lose your opportunity for justice. And if a year still sounds like plenty of time, remember that there are practical problems with waiting too long as well. Physical evidence is washed away. Witnesses forget what they saw. Camera footage is deleted or overwritten, sometimes within days. Your lawyer needs to secure and preserve this vital evidence to get the results you need.

The sooner you call an attorney, the sooner they can start dealing with the insurance company on your behalf while you focus on healing and rebuilding your life. If you’ve been in a car accident in Tennessee, level the playing field with a lawyer who knows the system. Contact a Tennessee car accident attorney in your area today.

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Founded by attorney Eric Beasley, the Law Office of Eric Beasley fights for injured people in Nashville and throughout Middle Tennessee. We understand Tennessee’s unique legal env...