How long you have to report a car accident to your insurance in Tennessee depends on your insurance company. Each one makes its own rules about the amount of time you have to notify them of a crash. Regardless of which insurance company you have, they like to be notified as soon as possible if you have been in an accident, whether you were at fault or not.
For example, State Farm says to notify them immediately. Allstate suggests that you call them while you are still at the scene of the accident. Note: Be careful — do not give a recorded statement to an insurance company without first talking with your car accident lawyer.
Do I have to report a car accident in Tennessee to the police?
Yes. T.C.A. § 55-10-106 requires drivers to notify, “by the quickest means of communication,” the local police, sheriff, or highway patrol of any motor vehicle accident that resulted in:
- Property damage that appears to be valued at $50 or more
Does a driver or owner of a vehicle have to file anything after an accident in Tennessee?
Yes. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security requires owners and drivers to complete a form, called an Owner/Driver Report, whenever they have been involved in an accident in which someone was injured or killed, or in which there were damages to anyone’s property in the amount of more than $400.
It does not matter if you were at fault in the accident. All involved parties must file this form within 20 days of the crash.
If you do not file the report within 20 days, the state of Tennessee may suspend your driver’s license and registration. If you are not a resident of Tennessee, failure to file the report within 20 days can result in the suspension of your nonresident operating privileges within the state of Tennessee.
What information must I include in the Owner/Driver Report?
You must include the following in the report:
- Date, time, and location of the crash
- Make, year, and type of the vehicle
- The driver’s and owner’s contact, license, and insurance information (if they are different people)
- Statement of whether there were injuries or deaths from the crash
- Statement of whether the damages to your vehicle were more or less than $400
- The name and driver’s license number of the other party(s) involved (if available)
Do I have to file the Owner/Driver Report if there was a police report?
Yes. The instructions specify that the Owner/Driver Report is in addition to any report filed by law enforcement.
Will reporting a car accident affect my insurance premiums?
It might, but likely only if you were at-fault for the collision. However, not reporting your accident can have a bigger effect. If you do not report your accident to your insurer and the other driver files a claim against you, the insurer might refuse to cover the other driver’s injuries. This could leave you paying thousands out of pocket.
Your insurer might also drop you from coverage for breaching your contract.
Are there any other reasons I should report a car accident to my insurer?
Many people think that by not filing with their insurer, they will not risk higher premiums. However, even if you think you are at-fault for the accident, you should always report your accident.
First, you do not know all the details of the accident; you might find out the other party is totally at-fault. Second, if you do not file a claim with your insurer, you will likely be unable to recover any compensation from the other party through a claim or lawsuit because there will be no record of the accident.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
If you decide to file a lawsuit, you have a very short window of time to file in Tennessee. T.C.A. § 28-3-104 requires that injured parties file an action within one year.
Make sure you get medical care immediately as it can take months to simply get the prognosis of your injuries.
Can I recover compensation if I was partially at-fault?
Maybe. It depends on how much your fault contributed to the accident. There is often more than one person at fault in an accident. Tennessee uses modified comparative negligence when apportioning fault in accident cases. This means that you can recover compensation if you were less than 50 percent responsible, but your own negligence will reduce the amount of your recovery.
For example, Alan and Bob are in a car accident. Alan ran a red light and crashed into Bob, who was driving 10 miles over the speed limit. Alan’s damages are $10,000. Bob’s damages are $10,000. Alan is 90 percent at fault. Bob is 10 percent at fault. How much will Alan and Bob each receive for their damages?
Bob’s negligence will reduce his damages by 10 percent, leaving him with $9,000. Alan will receive nothing from Bob’s insurance company because Alan was more than 50 percent at fault in the accident.
If you were less than 50 percent at fault in causing your accident, it is worth your while to file a claim for your damages.
If you have been injured in an accident, call OEB Law, PLLC for a free case evaluation. We will make sense of the complicated laws and deal directly with the insurance company for you. Give us a call today: 865-546-1111.