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What Happens if You Get Hit By a Drunk Driver in Tennessee?

January 15, 2024 

What Happens if You Get Hit By a Drunk Driver in Tennessee?

One wrong turn. One impaired driver. A life shattered. This is not just a narrative; it’s a stark reality that unfolds on the roads of Tennessee, bringing unforeseen tragedy to individuals and families. A recent accident in Memphis is a sobering example. Michael Morrison, a photojournalist, became a victim of such a tragedy. As reported by ABC 24, Morrison succumbed to injuries sustained in a crash caused by an alleged drunk driver, leaving behind a community in mourning at the untimely loss of his life at just 36.

Every year in Tennessee, stories like Morrison’s unfold in thousands of crashes, resulting in hundreds of injuries and shattered lives. These incidents are more than mere statistics; they represent a deep and lasting impact on families and communities. 

In such critical times, understanding your legal rights and the avenues available for recourse is not just beneficial; it’s essential. In this blog post, an experienced drunk driving accident attorney from our firm delves into what happens if you get hit by a drunk driver in Tennessee. 

If you or someone you love has been involved in a similar tragedy, this information is for you. You may be grappling with injury, emotional trauma, or the daunting task of navigating insurance claims. We’re here to listen, understand, and advocate for you. For a FREE consultation with a member of our team, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (615) 208-3860. Your Voice – Your Advocate – Always by Your Side!

Essential First Actions After a Drunk Driving Accident

This Memphis DUI accident, resulting in the tragic loss of Michael Morrison, underscores the urgent need for awareness about the right actions to take in the wake of such a crisis. Quick and appropriate responses are essential not only for your immediate safety but also for future legal considerations.

In the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, prioritize the following steps:

  • Ensure Safety: Move to a secure location and check for any injuries. Your safety is paramount, so make sure you and your passengers are out of harm’s way before doing anything else.
  • Call Emergency Services: Immediately report the accident to the authorities. Be specific about your location and any injuries sustained by you or others.
  • Document the Scene: If it’s safe to do so, use your phone to take photographs of the accident scene from various angles, capturing the positions of vehicles, any visible damage, road conditions, traffic signs, and skid marks. Also, if there are any environmental factors like poor lighting or road obstructions, make sure to document these as well.
  • Exchange Information: Obtain the other driver’s name, contact information, insurance details, and vehicle registration number. It’s important to remain calm and courteous, but avoid discussing fault or liability at the scene.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Get a medical evaluation as soon as possible, even if injuries aren’t immediately apparent. Some injuries may not be obvious right away but could have significant long-term impacts.

These actions are crucial for safeguarding your well-being and supporting any subsequent legal or insurance processes. Remember to collect and preserve any evidence meticulously, as it will be invaluable in reconstructing the events leading to the accident.

Recognize that in situations where you or a loved one are incapacitated, these steps may not be immediately possible. The focus should be on receiving medical care. Once stabilized, gathering information and exploring legal options becomes relevant. It’s important to understand that legal assistance can be sought at any stage post-accident to help navigate the complexities of your case.

For more insights, especially on dealing with the physical aftermath of a car accident, our blog post, “What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident in Tennessee” offers further guidance.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit

Victims of drunk driving accidents have the right to seek justice and compensation through civil lawsuits:

  • Personal Injury Lawsuit: If you’re injured, you can file this lawsuit to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other related costs.
  • Wrongful Death Lawsuit: In the heartbreaking event of a fatality, the victim’s family can file for wrongful death, seeking compensation for lost financial support, funeral expenses, and emotional suffering.

These lawsuits serve to financially support the recovery process and hold the responsible party accountable beyond criminal sanctions.

Navigating Insurance Claims

Navigating insurance claims is crucial in these incidents:

  • Fault-based System: As Tennessee is a “fault” state, the driver at fault (in this case, the drunk driver) bears financial responsibility for damages caused.
  • Dealing with Uninsured Drivers: If the at-fault driver is uninsured, your own insurance may cover your losses under uninsured motorist coverage, a critical component in Tennessee’s auto insurance policies.
  • Claim Process: Filing an insurance claim involves extensive documentation and often negotiations. It’s vital to ensure all damages are adequately assessed and covered.

Understanding Punitive Damages in DUI Cases

Punitive damages play a unique role in drunk driving cases:

  • Purpose: These are awarded not just to compensate the victim but to punish exceptionally reckless behavior and deter similar conduct in the future.
  • Caps on Damages: In Tennessee, punitive damages are capped, but even within these limits, they can provide significant financial relief and a sense of justice to the victims.

Criminal Charges and Civil Claims

In Tennessee, drunk driving accidents trigger swift legal action, with the seriousness of charges hinging on the outcome. A DUI can escalate to aggravated assault or vehicular assault for injuries, and vehicular homicide for fatalities – a grave felony with substantial consequences. Convictions typically entail fines, jail time, DUI programs, and driver’s license suspension or revocation.

Criminal proceedings are separate from civil lawsuits. However, criminal outcomes can significantly impact civil cases seeking personal injury or wrongful death compensation. A DUI conviction strengthens evidence of negligence in a civil case, simplifying fault-finding and potentially leading to faster resolution.

Remember, pursuing a civil lawsuit is independent of the criminal process. You can seek compensation even if the driver isn’t criminally convicted, as civil cases require a lower burden of proof. Understanding this interplay empowers you to navigate the aftermath of a drunk driving accident effectively. Legal assistance can prove invaluable in handling both facets of your situation.

The Necessity of Legal Representation in DUI Cases

If you decide to file a lawsuit, engaging an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial:

  • Legal Guidance: An attorney with experience in DUI accidents can navigate the complexities of both the criminal repercussions facing the driver and your civil claims.
  • Advocacy: Your lawyer will be an advocate in dealings with insurance companies, opposing attorneys, and in court, if necessary.
  • Maximizing Compensation: A skilled attorney can help ensure you receive full compensation, including potential punitive damages.

Determining Liability in DUI Accidents in Tennessee

The process of identifying who is at fault in a drunk driving accident is often multifaceted and requires a nuanced understanding of the law. An experienced attorney plays a key role not just in representing your interests, but also in deciphering the web of liability that can surround such incidents. This is where their knowledge and investigative skills become invaluable in ensuring that all responsible parties are held accountable.

In Tennessee, various parties may be held accountable in a drunk driving accident, each playing a different role in the incident:

  • The Drunk Driver: Primarily responsible, the impaired driver is liable for damages or injuries caused.
  • Bars and Alcohol-Serving Establishments (Dram Shop Liability): These entities can be liable if they served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a minor who then caused an accident.
  • Social Hosts: Individuals hosting private gatherings can be held responsible, especially if they provided alcohol to minors or visibly intoxicated guests.
  • Employers: If the drunk driver was on job-related duties, their employer might be liable, particularly in cases of inadequate supervision or policy enforcement.
  • Vehicle Owners: Owners who knowingly allow an impaired individual to use their vehicle can also face liability.
  • Insurance Companies: While not at fault, insurers play a vital role in compensating victims through the at-fault party’s insurance coverage.
  • Government Entities: On rare occasions, if poor road conditions contributed to the accident, a government entity might be partially liable.

Remember, each case is unique, and consulting with a lawyer for personal injury is crucial for a thorough investigation to identify all potentially liable parties and ensure you are fully supported in your claim.

As we’ve discussed, navigating the aftermath of a drunk driving accident in Tennessee involves understanding various critical steps, from immediate actions post-accident to the complexities of legal proceedings involving civil lawsuits, insurance claims, punitive damages, and identifying responsible parties. 

It’s important to note, however, that this blog serves as an overview and may not encompass every aspect of what you might encounter legally after such an incident. The nuances of each case are unique, and the information here, while comprehensive, is not exhaustive.

Your Path to Recovery and Justice

Being hit by a drunk driver in Tennessee brings emotional, physical, and legal challenges. Understanding who can be held accountable is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this journey. With the right support and guidance, navigating these complexities can lead to a resolution that honors your experience and upholds your rights.

At Tennessee Injury Attorneys, we’re committed to providing that support. Our experienced team understands the multifaceted nature of these cases and is dedicated to helping you every step of the way. From identifying all responsible parties to advocating for your rightful compensation, we’re here to ensure that your voice is heard and your needs are met.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a drunk driving accident, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us at (615) 208-3860, or use our online form for a FREE consultation with a DUI accident attorney. Let us be your advocates, fighting for the justice and compensation you need to move on.

Remember, your journey to recovery is our priority. You’re not just a case to us; you’re a member of our community, and we’re here to stand by your side. Let us fight for you!

Copyright © 2024. Tennessee Injury Attorneys. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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55 Music Square E, Suite B
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 208-3860

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