Tennessee Hit-and-Run

If you’re involved in a hit-and-run in Tennessee, call the police to report it immediately, then file an insurance claim within 24 hours.
Written by Macy Fouse
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Hit-and-runs in
can be either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Penalties for a hit-and-run may include revocation of your license, a $2,500 fine, and six years in prison.
If you’re a victim of a hit-and-run, try to identify the vehicle, then report the crime to the police immediately. You should also
file an insurance claim
as soon as possible if you have collision or uninsured motorist coverage.
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What is a hit-and-run? 

A hit-and-run is a traffic collision where the driver does not provide their information before leaving the scene. If you hit another vehicle, person, or property, it’s the law to stop and provide your information so the other driver can file an insurance claim. 
Regardless of who caused the accident, everyone involved must stay at the scene. Even if you didn’t cause the accident, you’ll be guilty of a hit-and-run if you leave. Always remain at the scene of a collision and exchange information with the other parties to avoid being charged. 

What happens if you commit a hit-and-run in Tennessee?

It can be easy to panic in a car accident, but fleeing without first providing your information will get you into major legal and financial trouble. Never leave the scene of a collision with following the proper procedure. 

Is a hit-and-run a felony in Tennessee? 

In Tennessee, a hit-and-run can be considered either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the accident. If the collision only caused damage to a vehicle or property, it will be tried as a misdemeanor. A hit-and-run that causes injury or death to another person will be tried as a felony, though. 

What is the punishment for a hit-and-run in Tennessee? 

The punishment for a hit-and-run in Tennessee relies on the extent of damage or injuries caused by the accident. 
If the hit-and-run resulted in property damage only, it’s punishable by a $50 fine and/or 30 days in jail. If someone was injured in the accident, the punishment could include a $2,500 fine and/or one year in jail. If the hit-and-run caused a death, and the driver is suspected to have known, the charge comes with a maximum fine of $3,000 and/or one to 6 years’ imprisonment. 
Many of these penalties could include a license suspension of varying lengths, as well. 
Here’s a look at the possible punishments for a hit-and-run in Tennessee:
Result of accident
Possible punishment
Property damage only, less than $400
Class C misdemeanor
$50 fine
Max. imprisonment of 30 days
Driver’s education classes
Property damage only, more than $400
Class C misdemeanor
$50 fine
Max. imprisonment of 30 days
License suspension
Physical injury or death
Class A misdemeanor
Max. fine of $2,500
Max. imprisonment of one year
License suspension
Death with knowledge of death before fleeing
Class E felony
Max. fine of $3,000
Imprisonment of 1-6 years
License suspension
Drivers who committed a serious hit-and-run while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be faced with additional charges and consequences. 

How to avoid a hit-and-run charge

According to Tennessee Code 55-10-102, if involved in an accident, the driver must immediately stop at the scene or as close to the scene as possible, or return to and remain at the scene. At that point, exchange information with the other driver and wait for law enforcement. 
If someone was injured in the collision, you must also provide reasonable assistance to them. This means doing everything in your power to ensure that emergency services are contacted.

What should I do if I experience a hit-and-run in Tennessee? 

If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run in Tennessee, do your best to stay calm, gather as much information as you can, and report the crime right away.

At the scene

Even if you think it would be helpful, never try to follow the car. Instead, make sure everyone in your car is uninjured, then move your vehicle out of traffic and to a safe location. Call 911 to summon necessary medical attention and the police.
Try to take note of as much of the following as possible while you’re at the scene:
  • The other car’s make, model, color, and body style
  • The license plate number of the other vehicle
  • The other driver’s appearance
  • The circumstances of the accident
  • The direction the car was headed when it fled the scene
  • Any unique markers on the other car, like dents or bumper stickers
Be sure to talk to witnesses at the scene to get details of the accident you may have missed. It’s also a good idea to examine the scene of the crash for any other evidence, like paint chips or fragments. Try to take photos of the site and your vehicle to document the incident properly. 

After you leave the scene

Be sure that the police officer at the scene files a police report. This will not only boost your chances of finding the offender, but the report will corroborate evidence for your insurance claim. Be sure to file your insurance claim within 24 hours of the hit-and-run. 
If you or law enforcement were able to identify the driver or obtain their license plate number, their liability coverage should take care of the damage to your car. Your insurance company will provide further assistance in handling the claim like any other accident. 
If the other driver can’t be identified, though, filing a claim gets tricky. If you only have liability insurance, you’ll have to cover the damage yourself. You may be covered, though, if you have
collision coverage
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
medical payments (MedPay) coverage
, or
personal injury protection (PIP)

What insurance covers a hit-and-run?

Insurance type
Will it cover a hit-and-run?
Collision coverage
Might need to pay a deductible first
Uninsured motorist coverage
Your insurance company can tell you if your policy covers hit-and-runs
Medical payments (MedPay) coverage
Will only cover what health insurance doesn’t; deductible may apply
Personal injury protection (PIP)
Can cover lost income and other expenses that result from a collision
MORE: Does insurance cover a hit and run?

How to find affordable insurance for collisions and more 

Whether you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run, committed a hit-and-run, or just want to be protected from future accidents, the
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Your insurance rates shouldn’t be affected if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, even if you’re the one filing the claim. In fact, your company may even waive your deductible. If you’ve committed and hit-and-run, though, your insurance rates will definitely increase since you’ve been charged with a serious violation.
Hit-and-runs are no small charge. If you’ve committed a hit-and-run, it’s a good idea to seek legal counsel.
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