Even though Tennessee drivers are legally required to maintain a minimum amount of liability car insurance, people still choose to drive without it.
In fact, according to a 2015 study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), as many as one in eight drivers in the U.S. continue to get behind the wheel without auto insurance. In Tennessee, the rate of uninsured drivers is even higher (20 percent).
Although you may never have to deal with a car accident that involves an uninsured driver, it is good to know ahead of time what immediate steps to take in that scenario to protect your claim.
The experienced Knoxville auto accident lawyers at Greg Coleman Law are prepared to help victims of these accidents identify available insurance coverage and assist with filing a claim to recover compensation for damages sustained in an accident.
Where to File Your Insurance Claim
The minimum liability insurance amounts required by law in Tennessee are:
- $25,000 per person/accident
- $50,000 for all injured parties in a single accident
- $15,000 for property damage per each single accident
Since Tennessee is an at-fault insurance state, the at-fault party in the accident is liable for the damages he or she caused.
However, if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver who does not have car insurance or carries less than the minimum requirement, you may be able to file a claim against your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), if you have it.
If you do not already carry UM/UIM coverage on your insurance policy, you may want to consider talking to your provider about the benefits of adding it.
Tennessee’s Heavy Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
Tennessee lawmakers take the insurance financial responsibility law very seriously. Those who choose to operate a vehicle without insurance may face significant penalties if caught, including:
- A fine up to $300
- A charge of a Class C misdemeanor
- Suspension of their driver’s license and registration
- Towing and impounding of your vehicle
- Additional fees to reinstate their license
Additionally, non-compliant drivers may be required to file an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility, which will require them to pay higher insurance rates.
If the uninsured driver is involved in an accident that causes bodily injury, he or she can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face more severe penalties.
Steps to Take After Uninsured Motorist Accidents
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, here is a quick checklist of what to do and not to do:
- Report the accident immediately - Even if the other driver appears to take responsibility for the accident and begs you not to call the police, you should still report it. The police report is an official record of what happened.
- Do not accept an offer for money - The other driver knows he or she has broken the law by driving without car insurance and may offer you money in hopes that you will not take further action. However, that is a high risk since you do not know anything about the at-fault party. Additionally, you do not yet know the total cost of your damages.
- Exchange information - Get the other driver’s name, contact information, license plate number and details about his or her vehicle. This information will help you with the claims process.
- Do not admit fault - Avoid saying “sorry” or “I apologize” at the scene of the accident. Even if you are just trying to be polite, these statements can be considered admissions of fault and your claim may later be denied.
- Take pictures - Photograph the damages to the vehicles, traffic signs and the direction the drivers were traveling. If you are hurt, take pictures of your injuries as well.
- Contact an attorney - A qualified lawyer can assist you with the claims process and protect your interests.
Contact Greg Coleman Law for Representation
If you were injured by an uninsured driver, you can seek legal assistance from the qualified legal staff at Greg Coleman Law. We help victims of car accidents, including accidents caused by uninsured drivers, pursue damages.
Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation so you can find out how we may be able to help.
Reach us by phone at (865) 247-0080