What to Do When You’ve Been in an Auto Accident
Though the immediate aftermath of a car wreck can be chaotic, there is important information and evidence that should be collected before you leave the scene. The first priority is checking yourself for injuries and making sure you and everyone else are out of danger. Next, if possible, move your vehicle out of the way of oncoming traffic. If you don’t have to move the vehicle for safety reasons, wait until the police arrive. Once everyone is safe, move on to the information collection phase.
Contacting the police is advisable even if the other driver suggests the two of you can handle things without getting police involved. This will help document the scene and preserve vital information, which will be included in the police report. You should also:
- Write down the other driver’s name, phone number and insurance information.
- Take photos of the scene and any damage, preferably before any vehicles are moved.
- Obtain witnesses’ contact information, if possible.
- Get the police report number.
Contact your insurance carrier to report the accident. If your car needs to be towed, the carrier will advise you on how to arrange it. Next, seek medical attention if you know or suspect you have been injured in any way.
All of these steps will be important in resolving who must pay compensation for bodily injuries and property damage suffered. Tennessee is an at-fault state, which means that compensation must be sought from the driver who caused the accident. But fault may be shared, so Tennessee uses a system called “modified comparative negligence” to apportion financial responsibility. If you are less than 50 percent to blame for the accident, you may claim damages but your recovery will be reduced by your own proportion of fault. So, if the other driver clearly ran a red light but you were driving 7 miles over the posted speed limit, a jury or insurance adjuster could find you to be 20 percent at fault, and any compensation you are awarded would be reduced by that percentage.
If the other driver’s insurance fails to compensate you fully for your injuries, you have the option to file a lawsuit to seek additional damages. In Tennessee, a car accident victim has one year to sue an at-fault driver for bodily injuries. For property damage, the statute of limitations is three years. Speak to an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible following a traffic accident, so that your possible claim can be assessed and crucial evidence and witness recollection can be preserved.
If you are injured in an auto accident in Tennessee, the Epstein Law Firm in Chattanooga can help you pursue your claims with insurance companies and in court if necessary. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at 423-265-5100 or contacting us online.