If you think about what would be considered a “minor” car accident, a fender-bender or rear-end collision likely comes to mind. Maybe you imagine a sideswipe accident where you walk away from the incident unscathed despite the fact that your car’s door has been significantly damaged.
However, the truth is that there really is no such thing as a “minor” auto accident. If you sustain property damage or suffer injuries – even non-life-threatening injuries – you need to take the accident seriously.
Here, we take a look at car accident reporting laws in Tennessee and Mississippi and discuss when you should report a crash to your insurance company, why you should always seek medical attention and the importance of getting help from an experienced auto accident lawyer.
If you are in a minor car accident in Tennessee or Mississippi where there truly is no property damage or injuries, you may be wondering whether you need to report the accident to the authorities.
In Tennessee, you are not required to report car accidents that do not result in injuries or cause only very minor property damage. However, you are required to report accidents that result in death, personal injury or property damage exceeding $400. The easiest way to report a crash is to call 911 and cooperate with the police officer who arrives on the scene and prepares a crash report.
Mississippi has a similar requirement. Crashes that result in death, injury or property damage that exceeds $1,000 must be reported.
You can find the laws for these states and other parts of the country on AAA’s Accident Reporting page.
So, in many situations, you have a legal obligation to report a crash if it involves property damage or injuries. Doing so can also prove helpful later on. You can request a copy of the accident report, which you can later present to your insurance company and use as evidence of what happened to you.
Many auto insurance policies require you to not only report your accident but also to do so within a certain amount of time. To determine whether you are bound by this obligation, you should refer to your auto insurance policy.
In most cases, it is a good idea to report a crash to your insurer regardless of any requirement. This way, if damages surface later on – for instance, you find out that your sore neck is a serious whiplash injury that will put you out of work for a week and result in hundreds of dollars of medical treatment – then you will have covered your bases by already reporting the accident to your insurance company.
When you give your insurer notice of your accident, be sure to stick to what you know and tell only facts. Never admit or assign fault when discussing the accident. Never make a claim about which you are unsure. Never sign anything. And never give a recorded statement without talking to an attorney first.
Keep in mind that an insurance adjuster may act like your friend and pretend that he or she is working for you. Chances are that the adjuster is trying to find a way to devalue your claim. An insurance adjuster will be waiting for you to say something in error that can be used against you.
Everyone who is involved in a crash should get medical attention even if they are not suffering from obvious injuries like a broken bone or lacerations. Sometimes, injuries do not present themselves immediately.
For example, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal damage, internal organ damage and soft tissue injuries such as a sprain, strain or whiplash can take hours or days for symptoms to show up.
If you wait too long to seek medical care, an insurance adjuster may claim that your injuries are not related to your accident. By waiting too long to seek medical care, you are also putting yourself at a greater risk of health problems as your injuries may progress to a more severe level.
When you seek medical attention, make sure you keep thorough documentation. Keep a notebook with dates and times of when you went to the hospital or saw your doctor. Record information about medical treatment you receive, including prescriptions or tests and recommendations for physical therapy. Keep copies of bills that you incur. You will need to present all of this to the insurance company as you seek compensation for your losses.
Many car accident victims wonder when – and if – they should call a lawyer. The answer depends on the situation.
When it is apparent that the injuries you have suffered are severe, calling an attorney as soon as possible will be in your best interest. An attorney can play an important role in investigating your case, calculating the damages you should seek and, above all, filing a claim on your behalf. The attorney can deal directly with the insurance company and seek a settlement that will justly compensate you for all of your injuries and other damages.
Keep in mind that an initial consultation with attorney David E. Gordon is free and carries no obligation. Call or reach us online today to discuss your case and learn more about how we can assist you after you have been involved in a crash – even a “minor” one – in Memphis or surrounding areas in Tennessee or northern Mississippi.
While you are at it, be sure to request a copy of our free book, which reveals the secrets you should know in order to deal wisely with insurance companies after an accident.