Hit & Run Accident Victims
In Tennessee, drivers are prohibited from leaving the scene of a car crash under section 55-10-102. Failing to stay on the scene is a class C misdemeanor. However, a number of people do leave the scene of an accident. The police should be called in the event of a hit and run. With a description of the car and other details, they may be able to locate the fleeing driver, allowing an accident victim to sue that person. Another option is to file a claim against your own uninsured motorist policy. Experienced car crash lawyer Mark Hartsoe can advise Knoxville residents about their rights and options if they have been struck by a hit and run driver.Asserting Your Rights against a Negligent Driver after a Hit and Run
If the police are able to locate the hit and run driver who caused your injuries, you may sue the driver directly. In most cases, you would have to prove negligence. Four elements must be established by a preponderance of the evidence. The hit and run driver must have owed you a duty, the hit and run driver must have breached the duty, the breach must have directly caused the accident, and you must have incurred actual damages. All drivers in Tennessee owe a duty of reasonable care to others on the road.
You can potentially recover economic and noneconomic damages from a hit and run driver whose negligence causes an accident. Economic damages are tangible costs such as lost income, medical bills, rehabilitation, property damage, and out-of-pocket costs. Noneconomic damages tend to be more subjective and can vary dramatically. They usually account for elements like pain and suffering.
In some cases, you may be able to seek punitive damages against a hit and run driver. Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer and serve as a deterrent. You can usually recover punitive damages only if the hit and run driver caused the accident by acting in an egregious or reckless way or had the intent to cause harm. Some hit and run drivers flee because they are drunk, and if you can establish that the hit and run driver who caused your accident was drunk, you may be able to pursue punitive damages.
In Tennessee, drivers are required to have liability insurance with a minimum of $25,000 in coverage per person and $50,000 per accident. However, a large percentage of drivers are uninsured, and in some cases the minimum coverage will not cover all of a catastrophically injured person's damages. Some hit and run drivers flee because they are not insured.
If the police do not identify a driver who fled the scene right away or if the driver is underinsured, you may want to file a claim with your own insurance company under the uninsured motorist provision. This should cover the costs of your injuries and property damage. In some cases, your attorney may be able to find witnesses who can help identify the driver, or the police may locate the driver later.Explore Your Options with a Knoxville Lawyer after an Auto Accident
At the Hartsoe Law Firm, Knoxville attorney Mark Hartsoe is skilled in auto accident claims and can assert the rights of injured individuals. Even your own insurer may offer you less than the damages you have suffered. It may be critical to enlist an attorney who can help you explore all your options and take your case to trial as necessary. For a free initial consultation, call (865) 524-5657 or contact us via our online form.