Shelby County, Tennessee is one of the most populous counties in the state. It should come as no surprise that each year, Shelby County ranks high in terms of motor vehicle accidents, compared to other counties. In 2017, Shelby County ranked #1 in Tennessee with a total of 37,602 car wrecks. Shelby County also boats the highest 10-year average from 2007-2017, with an average of 33,852 auto accidents per year.
In the greater Memphis area, the top causes of car accidents are typically drunk driving, distracted driving, failure to yield right of way, speeding, and failure to keep in proper lane. Of all 2017 accidents in Shelby County, nearly 20% involved at least one form of distracted driving, which can include talking on a cell phone, looking down at GPS, and texting while driving.
If you are involved in a car wreck in Memphis or the Mid-South, safety should be your top priority. There are steps that can be taken to look out for your legal rights and make sure they are protected. Of course, contacting an experienced car accident attorney in Memphis can go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. However, here are steps you can take to help yourself.
- Call the police.
In Tennessee, it’s the law to stop after an accident that causes injury to person or property. The law can be found at Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-101. If you leave the scene of the accident, you could face criminal charges for the hit and run. Calling the police is important because they can coordinate medical help, such as an ambulance, and they will also generate a police report summarizing the accident. For emergencies, you can call 9-1-1. For non-emergency situations, you can reach the Memphis Police Department’s main office by calling 901-636-3700. MPD is headquartered at 170 N. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103, and officers may be dispatched from a number of precincts in the area.
- Exchange information with the other driver.
When you get out of your vehicle to assess the damage, ask the other driver for his or her information. Don’t just rely on the police to come and obtain it, because the other driver may end up leaving the scene of the accident. Ask for the other driver’s insurance information, contact information, and driver’s license. If possible, take photos of them because you may need insurance policy information to report the claim.
- Take pictures.
Without evidence, it is highly difficult to succeed on a car injury insurance claim or get your property damage fixed. While the police normally take photos at the scene, sometimes they do not. Thus, it is important for you to have your own evidence that your lawyer can utilize on your behalf. You can take pictures of the accident scene, damage to both vehicles, and visible injuries like bruises or seatbelt burns. In addition to reviewing medical records, bills, and doctor reports, insurance companies calculate pain and suffering damages based on photographic evidence available, such as the photos described above.
- Identify witnesses.
Depending on how your wreck happened, you may think it’s clear-cut. Think of the standard rear-end car accident – you may think there’s no way for anyone but the other person to be found responsible. What if the other driver wants to change his or her story and the officer cannot determine legal liability or fault? In that case, the police officer may not issue any tickets or citation, making it more difficult to meet your legal burden of proof. At the scene, take note of any independent witnesses who may have seen the crash. Get their name, phone number, and address because they may not get added to the police report. As part of representing accident victims in Memphis, car accident attorneys know how to contact witnesses and take their statement about what happened.
- Seek medical attention if you are hurt.
Some car accident injuries, such as broken bones, are known as “objective injuries,” which means they can be seen on an x-ray or diagnostic test. Others are more subjective in nature, such as muscle strains and whiplash. If you experience pain following an accident, such as soreness, tightness, or stiffness, you can seek treatment from a licensed doctor. Sometimes, pain symptoms start showing up a day or so later, after your adrenaline goes away. As soon as you suspect injuries caused by the accident, you should seek the opinion of a licensed doctor.
Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz is the largest plaintiff’s personal injury law firm based in Tennessee, and we have helped auto accident victims in Memphis for more than 25 years. For a free consultation with a Memphis car accident attorney today, call us at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form.