Motorists who drive without insurance are a major problem in Tennessee, putting others at risk of serious injury without providing financial resources to pay for the losses they cause. A recently enacted law aims to crack down on drivers in Tennessee who fail to carry the required minimum liability insurance.
Anyone who travels the highways, roads and streets in Memphis and the rest of Tennessee is at risk of being involved in a serious or deadly car accident. Injuries and losses from car accidents are often extremely costly, particularly when injuries are permanent or debilitating, requiring extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation or long-term care. The loss of income alone can be enough to lead to financial ruin.
WHAT IS THE NEW LAW AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
Since 1977, Tennessee state law has required all drivers to carry minimum bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage in the amount of $25,000 for one injury or death, $50,000 for all injuries and deaths, and $15,000 for property damage in a single accident. This coverage is supposed to help cover costs if a driver causes an accident resulting in injury or physical loss.
Not all drivers adhere to this law and obtain the coverage required under law – and the consequences for not obeying the mandatory liability insurance law have just gotten tougher in Tennessee.
The new law our state’s governor recently signed does the following as of July 1:
- Raises the fine from $100 to $300 for any driver who violated the “proof of insurance law,” also known as the financial responsibility law.
- Authorizes the creation of a statewide program designed to track drivers and verify insurance coverage through vehicle registrations maintained at the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Establishes further penalties for drivers who have failed to insure a vehicle as required under state law. Maximum penalties would include seizure of the vehicle registration tag, suspension of their registration and a $300 fee required for reinstatement.
- Gives police departments the discretionary option as of Jan. 1, 2016, to tow vehicles of drivers who are uninsured and have been cited for proof of insurance violations.
UNINSURED MOTORIST STATISTICS IN TENNESSEE
Statistics from the Insurance Information Institute (III) reveal that our nation appears to have an epidemic of uninsured motorists. According to a 2014 study, approximately 12.6 percent of all drivers were uninsured. This means one out of every eight drivers did not have auto insurance coverage in place, but nevertheless operated a vehicle.
Tennessee ranked sixth on the list of states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, with 20.1 percent of its motorists – or close to a million drivers – being uninsured. This figure is much higher than the national average.
In Memphis, WMC Action News reports that 30,000 drivers received citations for driving without auto insurance in 2014, and close to 26 percent of those uninsured drivers were also driving without a valid license.
HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP YOU RECOVER BENEFITS FROM YOUR OWN UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
When an individual is injured in an accident caused by a negligent, reckless or careless driver, that individual is generally eligible to pursue damages through the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. But what can a car accident victim do when the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance, or worse yet, no insurance at all?
State law requires motorists to be offered uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) equal to the liability coverage they carry on their auto insurance policy. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a car accident with an uninsured motorist, the benefits available through the UM coverage on your own auto insurance policy may be able to pay costs stemming from a crash with an uninsured driver.
Hiring a skilled car accident attorney can significantly improve your chances of being able to recover fair compensation through your UM coverage, maximizing the financial compensation you may be entitled to under the terms of your policy. Don’t count on your insurance company to inform you of all the compensation you may be due. To find out more about your legal rights and how to seek compensation for damages following an accident with an uninsured motorist, we recommend you contact a Memphis personal injury lawyer to schedule a free consultation.