In Memphis, a hit-and-run accident is defined as an accident in which the at-fault driver in an accident leaves the scene of the crash before exchanging any information. This happens often in rear-end accidents, especially if the crash was not too severe.
Under Tennessee law, drivers who are involved in car accidents are required to stop at the scene or nearby, even when no one is injured and there is only property damage to the vehicles. Drivers involved in a car accident especially have a duty to stop and offer reasonable assistance to injured drivers. It is a crime to leave the scene of an accident, and if the police find the offender, the driver would be prosecuted for their conduct.
However, it is not always possible to find the other driver in these situations, so a Memphis hit-and-run car accident lawyer could help recover damages from another source. Discuss all your legal possibilities with a dedicated attorney today. If you have been left injured after an accident, David E. Gordon could help you seek recovery for your losses.
Common Aspects of a Memphis Hit-and-Run Case
With hit-and-run accidents in Memphis, it could be likely the wrongdoer is already in trouble. The person who caused the crash could be driving without a license or insurance or could be driving a stolen vehicle. They are usually afraid that they are going to be prosecuted for a misdemeanor. Or, some people leave the scene of an accident just because they do not want a claim on their insurance policy.
A hit-and-run car accident case differs from other types of car accident cases in two ways. The first one is the way in which the wrongdoer is discovered. When the wrongdoer is found after leaving the scene of an accident, their insurance company has been placed in an unfavorable position because they know that if the case goes to court, their driver is going to be forced to admit that they left the scene. This may result in a harsher verdict from a judge, and the defendant would have to pay more to the plaintiff. Therefore, the insurance companies are anxious to resolve cases with a settlement in which their driver left the scene.
Hit and run drivers may not be able to be located immediately, but in some cases, the police investigating the car accident could be able to track down the driver. The police can take certain steps, such as interviewing any witnesses and reviewing available video footage of the accident, to try and identify the hit and run driver.
In the case that the fleeing driver is not discovered, the injured driver must make the claim against their own insurance policy. Their uninsured motorist coverage in their policy protects them against hit-and-run drivers and Tennessee law prohibits insurance companies from canceling or raising their insured’s premium after filing an uninsured motorist claim.
Recoverable Damages in an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Case
Even if the other driver is not discovered in a hit-and-run case, a claimant is still eligible for compensation for their lost earnings, medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life if they have uninsured motorist protection. If they do not have uninsured motorist protection and the other driver is not found, they would have looked to their own collision coverage to pay for their car’s repair or replacement.
If it can be proved that the hit and run driver fled because he caused the accident by acting recklessly, the injured driver may be able to get punitive damages awarded. These are damages that are meant to punish a person and deter others from acting in a similar manner. Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to the other compensation that the injured person receives.
Punitive damages are generally not available in an accident where a driver flees the scene. If there is evidence that the fleeing driver was operating their vehicle recklessly at the time of the crash, punitive damages would be appropriate, provided that the driver was found. The punishment for leaving the scene would be applied by the county district attorney.
If a hit and run driver is not found by the Memphis police and does not turn himself in, the other driver involved in the accident may have to file a claim with his own insurance company. In some cases, the driver may have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage which can help cover the cost of the repairs and medical expenses related to the accident.
Tennessee insurance companies are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage to drivers, who can choose to accept it or decline coverage. While it may increase the monthly car insurance premiums, it is well worth the price for the peace of mind it provides, especially when you get involved in a car accident with a hit and run driver.
How Can Hire a Memphis Legal Representative Help?
David could help with a hit-and-run car accident claim in Memphis by finding the appropriate insurance company to hold responsible for damages. If the other driver has been discovered, a legal professional could help find out whether that driver was insured. If the other driver has not been found, they could help the client make that claim against their own company under the uninsured motorist coverage.
Contact a Memphis Hit-and-Run Attorney
After being injured in an accident in which the at-fault driver flees the scene, there are four important steps a person should take. The first is to try to find a witness. Then, they should contact the police, as well as their own insurance company. Finally, contact board-certified personal injury attorney David E. Gordon.
A Memphis hit-and-run car accident lawyer could work for you to recover compensation regardless of whether the other driver is found. Call for a free consultation today.