You are more than 50% more likely to be killed in a highway fatality in Tennessee than the national average per capita and 30% more likely for miles travelled. While this is a scary statistic it equates to 15 deaths per 100,000 people, while the national average is only 10. With almost 170,000 reported accidents in 2014, almost 27% of the accidents reported included injuries or fatalities. If you are in an accident in Tennessee, most often it will include property damage only, but 1 in 4 accidents will involve an injury. With the average driver experiencing up to 4 accidents in their lifetime you should be prepared for this eventuality.
Knowing what to do in a car accident in Tennessee requires that you know how to respond at the time of the accident and the critical hours directly after the accident. When you are in a car accident, the stress of the situation can often lead you to make mistakes that may hamper your ability to win a claim or avoid fault.
In an accident the first step is to ascertain if anyone in your vehicle is injured. If there are injuries, call for emergency services immediately and try to offer first aid. If there are no injuries be sure to move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic for two reasons, to avoid further collisions and allow traffic to move again. Once you have taken care of yourself and your passengers find out if other pedestrians or occupants of the other vehicle are injured and apply the same procedure of first aid.
If there no injuries or minor injuries make sure to survey the scene of the accident yourself to assess the possible reasons for the accident and who might be at fault but be sure not to admit fault while at the scene of the accident, even to an enforcement officer. You can always make a statement with legal representation present. This can often help mitigate your fault percentage which can make a huge difference in these cases. At the scene take pictures of the damage and the scene of the accident to aid in the investigation. Also be sure to exchange information with all those at the scene in case you need witnesses.
Modified Comparative Fault Rule
In Tennessee, you are bound by the modified comparative fault rule, especially in litigated cases, but it is often used in insurance settlements as well. Essentially, as long as you are under 50% at fault you can recover damages from an accident. However, your own claim will be reduced by the same percentage of fault you are assigned. So a $10,000 settlement or court award may only be $8,000 if you are assigned 20% of the fault. This fault could be assigned for an improperly maintained vehicle, failing to stop, distracted driving and a number of other issues.
Twelve in Twelve
The Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) monitors your driving record for traffic infractions, if you receive 12 demerit points for traffic violations in twelve months you may incur a license suspension. You will be notified of an impending proposed suspension hearing where you can contest the suspension.
Reinstatement after Court DUI
Tennessee is one of the few states that only allow reinstatement of your license once you have satisfied, met and paid your criminal court penalties. Upon conviction of a DUI, your license is automatically revoked.
Court awarded penalties include jail time up to 1 day less a year up to the 3rd offense and 1 year for a 4th offense, the forfeiture of your vehicle on 2nd and subsequent offenses, fines up to $15,000 and license suspension up to 10 years on 3rd and 4th offenses, but still 1 years even for your first offense. Penalties are harsh in Tennessee for DUI and you may still incur a DUI charge under the 0.08% BAC limit if your driving is thought to be impaired. An implied consent law also in effect ensures license suspension if you refuse chemical testing.