What should I do after an accident?

Having thought about and made a plan for what to do after an accident happens is important for drivers in Tennessee.

Even an experienced driver in Tennessee can become flustered and disoriented after being involved in a car accident. In the face of these situations, it can be helpful to have made a plan ahead of time to avoid making a serious and potentially costly misstep. Following are some things that can keep people safe and help to protect a driver's opportunities to seek appropriate compensation in the wake of a motor vehicle crash.

Carry essential items in vehicles

It is advised by the Consumer Protection Association of America that all drivers should keep a stocked emergency kit in their cars, trucks or SUVs at all times. Some of the items recommended to be in an emergency kit include cones or flares that can let oncoming traffic be alerted to a disabled vehicle or accident scene. Headlamps, flashlights and reflective gear that can be worn can help to keep motorists safe if they are forced to be outside of their vehicles while waiting for help. If vehicles are not too severely damaged in the crash, it is best to move them off of the road or at least to the side of the road.

A document with important medical information for all members of a family should be kept in a glove box or even with the emergency kit per State Farm. This can allow first aid responders to provide appropriate medical care if people are unable to communicate on their own.

Know what information to collect

It is important that all drivers involved in a share their pertinent details with other drivers. Insurance companies as well as the state will require this for the purposes of filing claims or accident reports. Information to be collected includes the following:

  • Drivers' names and full contact information including addresses, cell phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Drivers' license numbers and states of issue.
  • Names and contact information for vehicle owners if different than the drivers.
  • Vehicles' make, model, year and license numbers.
  • Insurance company names and policy numbers.

It is also wise to make notes about the general accident scene. Details like road conditions, time of day, lighting, visibility and even the condition of other drivers' vehicles can be useful down the road.

Filing an accident report

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security requires that a full accident report be filed within 20 days for many crashes. Accidents in which property damage exceeds $400 or that resulted in personal bodily injury or death of at least one person all must be reported to the state.

Every driver involved in a crash must file an individual report. Failure to do so can result in a suspension of the vehicle registration or driver's license.

Obtaining additional help

Sometimes getting the right help after a crash is more difficult than people may expect. For this reason, it is recommended that drivers contact an attorney in Tennessee for help after an accident happens.