If you are in an accident, whether it was your fault or not, you are always required stop. Failure to do so constitutes a hit and run and could put you in serious legal trouble. Both criminal and civil suits can be filed against you that could cost thousands and even time in jail. In order to completely avoid these catastrophic outcomes, you should be familiar with all the hit and run laws of Tennessee.
Responsibilities After an Accident
Under TCA §55-10-102, a driver has a set of obligations to perform after an accident. The first would be to stop the vehicle as soon as possible and return to the scene of the accident. Make sure your vehicle is not blocking traffic or in anyway making the road unsafe.
Further responsibilities differ depending on the conditions surrounding the accident. For instance, if you hit another vehicle and injure the other driver, under TCA §55-10-103, you must share your insurance information with the other driver and provide what is legally termed “reasonable assistance.” This may include carrying him or her to safety or calling for an ambulance.
In the event you hit an unattended vehicle, you must either find the vehicle’s owner or leave a written notice with your contact and insurance information.
Penalties for Hit and Run Violations
If you fail to stop after being involved in an accident, you can be charged with a hit and run and face both civil and criminal penalties. These penalties depend on the amount of damage and bodily harm you inflict.
In hit and run accidents where the damage is under $400, you would face a Class C misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail, mandatory driving classes and a $50 fine. If the damages were more than $400, all the penalties remain the same except your licence would be suspended. If the accident resulted in physical injury or death for another person, then you would still get charged with a Class C misdemeanor but with up to one year in prison, licence suspension and up to $2,500 in fines. If the court determines that the accident was serious enough that you should have known that it would cause death, then the charge can be raised to a felony and one to six years in prison.
These fines do not seem to substantial considering the seriousness of a hit and run violation, but you must consider the civil case that in all likelihood will be brought against you. You could end up paying thousands in damages, both for damaged property, medical expenses and other punitive damages. Even if the accident was not your fault, simply leaving the scene holds you liable for the damages.
Contact a Nashville Car Accident Attorney
If you were the victim or perpetrator of a hit and run accident, a skilled Nashville auto accident attorney is absolutely necessary to deal with the ensuing legal battle. Whether you are seeking damages or trying to protect yourself against charges, a lawyer can make all the difference.