Tennessee law prohibits drivers involved in a car crash from leaving the scene of the accident. This law ensures that information can be exchanged and the police can arrive, if necessary. The Nashville car accident lawyers of Matt Hardin Law are committed to helping clients injured in car accidents seek compensation. If you were injured in a hit and run accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Committing a Hit and Run in Tennessee is Illegal
In 2013 there were more than 386,000 traffic accidents in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Of these, just over 60,000 involved some type of possible injury, and 977 were fatal accidents. Tennessee law (T.C.A. § 55-10-102) requires anyone involved in a car accident to stop and stay and the scene. Failing to do so is a Class C Misdemeanor.
Tennessee Law Protects Hit and Run Victims
Victims of a hit and run accident can file a civil lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident if that driver is known. The required elements of a negligence suit are:
That the hit-and-run driver owed a duty to the plaintiff;
The hit-and-run driver breached that duty; and
The plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the hit-and-run driver’s actions.
All drivers in Tennessee owe a duty to everyone else on the road. This duty requires drivers to behave the same as a hypothetical reasonable person. A driver can breach this duty by driving while distracted, failing to yield the right of way, or driving drunk, among other ways. Although leaving the scene of an accident is unreasonable — and a crime — the focus of the civil inquiry is whether the defendant breached a duty in causing the accident. If the plaintiff proves that the defendant did breach his duty, and the actions that constituted a breach caused the accident, injured plaintiffs will be able to hold the defendant liable for damages.
Victims of hit and run accidents who are not able to identify the fleeing driver are not without recourse. The police may find the responsible driver after the investigation. Also, a knowledgeable attorney may be able to find witnesses that could help identify the driver. Finally, victims of hit and run accidents can likely file a claim with their insurance company. This will cover the costs of their injuries and vehicle damage. An experienced attorney can litigate a negligence case, investigate the accident, or negotiate with the insurance company.
Damages Are Available to Prevailing Plaintiffs
If the victim of a hit and run accident files a successful negligence claim against the person responsible for the accident, she is entitled to two types of compensatory damages. Economic damages are designed to reimburse the plaintiff for the subjective costs of the accident. These include lost wages, medical bills, physical therapy, and vehicle damage or replacement. Noneconomic damages can be recovered to compensate the plaintiff for more subjective injuries, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement.
Punitive damages may be appropriate in some cases. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted maliciously or recklessly in order to collect an award of punitive damages. These types of damages are intended to punish wrongful conduct and deter others from engaging in that type of behavior and are typically reserved for extreme cases.
Hire an Experienced Hit and Run Lawyer in Nashville
People injured by a hit and run accident face many uncertainties, beginning with finding the person responsible. Hiring an experienced attorney will maximize the chances of hit and run victims receiving compensation for their injuries. The Nashville injury attorneys of Matt Hardin Law have litigated countless car accident cases for clients throughout Tennessee. Call email our office to schedule a free consultation.