Your first car accident is often the hardest because you don’t know what to do. Not only has another vehicle collided with you, but there’s contact information to exchange, damage to assess, insurance to deal with, a possible trip to the emergency room and a police report to fill out.
First, take a deep breath.
No matter whose fault it is, filling out a report is standard procedure for any type of car accident.
When the police or highway patrol arrives on the scene, they will ask you to fill a piece of paper with your name, date, contact information, the make and model of the car and describe what happened. Write as clearly and concisely as you can, but don’t leave any details out as they could affect your case later.
If you decide to file a claim, a copy of that report will be helpful to your Tennessee accident lawyer.
But how do you get a copy?
Who can get a car accident report?
Tennessee drivers, vehicle owners and legal representatives all have the right to obtain a copy of the report. This means a friend or family member can’t do it for you unless you were driving a vehicle owned by them.
Who do I get it from?
There are a couple of sources to check for a copy of your car accident report.
Police or sheriff
After you’ve filled in the necessary information to the best of your ability, the county sheriff or city police should hand you something like a business card with the report number, a phone number for the office you can call, and the location of the office where you can pick up a copy of that report.
If you wish to have the report sent to you in the mail, you should be able to start that process once you’ve called the office. Be aware that certain fees may be applied depending on which department you’re working with to get a copy.
Tennessee Highway Patrol
If your accident is investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), you should be able to request a copy of the report 1 week following the car accident. You can also request a copy through the THP website and have it mailed to your home. Make sure to select the correct district office that is handling your report.
What the car accident report includes
Whether the city police or THP respond to the accident, the information included in the report is generally the same.
Any and all relevant details should be included in the report by yourself and the officer investigating the accident. This includes how fast the driver was going, the road conditions, the time and date of the crash, where the vehicle was hit and, sometimes, notes from the officer who investigated the crash.
Injuries and damages
Fatal and non-fatal injuries are also included in the report, as well as property damages. All of this will help insurance companies determine the economic damages and what the financial penalties may be, if there are any.
If there were any witnesses of the crash, the police may interview them and include their contact information. Their statements will be helpful to your case if you decide to file a claim with help from a Tennessee car accident attorney.
Filing the report
Any car accident with an injury or significant damage ($50 or more) should always be reported. In order to make an insurance claim, you will need to acquire a copy of the police report to include with the claim. An owner or driver report should also be filed within 20 days if the car accident resulted in fatalities, if the damages add up to $400 or more—or if there were any injuries that add up to $400 or more.
No matter how minor or significant the damage is to the property or persons involved, if you want to file a car accident claim, an experienced Tennessee legal representative can help obtain all the evidence you need to make your case. Discover your rights by contacting Gilreath & Associates today for your free consultation.