Tennessee Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Tennessee Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Tennessee Hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident in TN?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident in Tennessee a misdemeanor?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Tennessee?
- What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Tennessee?
- How is fault determined in Tennessee?
- What is the statute of limitations on accidents in Tennessee?
- Tennessee hit and run laws defenses
Tennessee hit and run laws: what happens if you leave the scene of an accident in TN?
The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Tennessee is up to one year in jail and a $2500 fine for a first offense involving property damage. If the accident results in injury or death, the fleeing driver is guilty of a felony.
Quick take: Leaving the scene of an accident in Tennessee
- Tennessee is a comparative negligence state.
- You may file a negligence claim against the property owner if an accident occurs on private property.
- You may leave the scene if you have a valid reason to fear for your safety.
- You must report any accident that results in death or injury.
- Failure to report a reportable accident is a misdemeanor.
- Failure to fulfil statutory requirements is a class A misdemeanor.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving death is a felony.
Tennessee Hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident in TN?
In Tennessee, the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident depends on the severity, and your actions before/immediately after an accident. For instance, if you intentionally strike and kill someone with a https://recordinglaw.com/us-laws/united-states-lemon-laws/tennessee-lemon-laws/vehicle, you may face manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges.
What you must remember is an accident in Tennessee is not a crime. The crime is leaving the scene without fulfilling statutory obligations.
What to do after an accident in Tennessee
Under chapter 10, “Accidents, arrests, crimes and penalties” sections 55-10-101 to 55-10-103 “Duty to give information and Render Aid.” You must do the following immediately after an accident in Tennessee. Failure to fulfill the obligations makes you guilty of a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the resulting damage.
- Immediately stop your vehicle when involved in a traffic collision.
- Give your name, address, and registration number to the struck person or property owner.
- Upon request and if available, you must exhibit your driver’s license to the struck person or law enforcement officer present at the scene.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it, including transporting the struck person to a hospital if requested or if it is apparent that the individual needs immediate medical care.
- You must remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives.
- Do not obstruct traffic more than is necessary.
Can you legally leave the scene of an accident in Tennessee?
Yes. If the victim requires immediate medical care or upon request, you may leave the scene. If you have a valid reason to fear for your safety, you may also leave the scene.
It is in your best legal interest to report the incident within 20 days.
What is a reportable accident in Tennessee?
Under state law, a reportable accident is any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1500. If you hit state property, you must report the accident if property damage is above $400.
You have twenty days to submit a report to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland security.
Download the Tennessee accident report form here.
How to avoid hit and run charges in Tennessee
In short, if you are involved in a traffic collision in Tennessee, you must:
- Stop your vehicle and contact law enforcement.
- Do not engage in road rage.
- Do not admit fault.
- Remain at the scene until law enforcement officers arrive.
- Offer aid to anyone who needs it.
- Gather evidence, including eyewitness testimony and dashcam footage.
- Contact your insurer.
- Seek medical assistance if needed.
Is leaving the scene of an accident in Tennessee a misdemeanor?
Yes. Under section 55-10-102, you are guilty of a misdemeanor if you fail to comply with the statutory obligations above and the accident results in property damage.
As mentioned, the damage caused determines the charge, consequently:
- If the resulting damage is below $500, leaving the scene without exchanging information makes you guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in property damage above $500 constitutes a class A misdemeanor.
- If you do not fulfill the statutory obligations above/comply with section a of the statute, you are guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
Note that upon conviction for any of the crimes above. The state will suspend or revoke your driving privileges for up to one year or more.
The statute also reads in part, quote:
“a person whose motor vehicle operating privileges have been so suspended may obtain restoration of driving privileges by paying a restoration fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) to the commissioner of safety following the expiration of the suspension period.”
Failure to report a reportable accident is a misdemeanor in Tennessee
Under section 55-10-111, “accident report forms penalty to report,” failing to report a reportable accident is a class C misdemeanor. As mentioned, you have twenty days to submit a report. We recommend calling law enforcement while at the scene to avoid additional charges.
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in Tennessee?
Under section 55-10-104, “duty upon striking unattended vehicles,” if you hit an unattended vehicle, you have a legal obligation to locate the struck property owner. If you cannot locate the owner, you may leave a note containing your name, contact information, and address on a conspicuous section of the vehicle.
Remember, section B of the statute says that the requirements above are only applicable in public spaces.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Tennessee?
Failure to fulfill the obligations above is a class A misdemeanor. If the accident results in death, you may face additional Class E felony charges. Under section 55-10-101, “accident involving death or personal injury,” you are guilty of a felony if you leave the scene of an accident if you knew or should reasonably have known that the collision resulted in death.
What is vital to remember is section B which reads quote:
“If, as a result of the same course of conduct, a person who is charged with a violation of subdivision (b)(2)(A) is also charged with the offense of vehicular assault under § 39-13-106, vehicular homicide under § 39-13-213 or aggravated vehicular homicide under § 39-13-218, any sentence imposed for a violation of subdivision (b)(2)(A) shall be served consecutive to any sentence imposed for the applicable assault or homicide offense.”
DUI hit and run, vehicular assault, and vehicular homicide in Tennessee
Under chapter 13 section 39-13-106, you are guilty of a class D felony if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or if you were driving recklessly at the time of the accident.
For a first violation, reckless or DUI hit and run/vehicular assault carries a minimum sentence of forty-eight hours in jail. If you have prior DUI convictions, the minimum sentence goes up to forty-five days. If you have multiple DUI convictions, the mandatory minimum sentence is one hundred and fifty days in jail.
Also, the state will revoke or suspend your driver’s license upon conviction.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Tennessee?
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage below $500 is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
- Hit and run involving property damage above $500/ failing to fulfill statutory obligations, class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail plus a maximum fine of $2500.
- Failure to report a reportable accident. Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to thirty days in jail and a $50 fine.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death, class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $1000.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving reckless driving/intoxication, Class D felony, punishable by up to twelve years in prison and a $5000 fine.
A conviction for all the crimes listed will result in license suspension or revocation.
How is fault determined in Tennessee?
Tennessee follows a “modified comparative negligence rule” that reduces the amount a claimant may recover based on your share of negligence. Because of that, if you are 51% responsible for the accident, you will likely not receive compensation.
If you are the victim and can prove negligence, you may take civil action to recover damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, etc.
Tip: Negligence statutes apply to collisions that occur on private property.
The judge and jury designate fault, meaning it is in your best interest to do the following after an accident in the state:
- Do not admit fault or apologize to the other party.
- Seek medical assistance and do not comment about your health at the scene.
- If the driver flees, document everything and gather evidence if capable.
- To make it easier to locate the driver, write down the vehicle’s plate number, a description of the driver, car make, colour, resulting damage, and any other useful detail.
What is the statute of limitations on accidents in Tennessee?
After an accident in Tennessee, you have three years to file a property damage suit. If you suffer injury -you have one year to file a personal injury claim. If the victim dies, survivors have one year starting from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
You also have the option to negotiate a settlement out of court. We recommend consulting with a claim’s attorney Immediately.
Tennessee hit and run laws defenses
You may leave the scene of an accident if:
(1) You have a valid reason to fear for your safety (your health trumps your legal obligations at the scene of an accident).
(2) If the victim requests it or if it is apparent the individual needs immediate medical assistance.
Other defenses include:
- You were unaware of your involvement in an accident.
- Mistaken identity.
Overall, your defense will depend on the circumstances, so we recommend consulting with an attorney. And do not say more than you need to, especially if the accident results in death or serious injury.
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