When you get into a car accident in Sevier County, Tennessee, there are steps you should take to protect both your safety and your legal rights.
Move to safety
If you are involved in a car accident in Sevier County, you must immediately and safely stop your vehicle and check to see if anyone is injured. Also, make sure and turn off your engine and turn on your hazard lights. Again, if you or anyone else is injured, call 911 immediately. If possible, leave your vehicle where it is until after the police have documented the accident scene. However, if your vehicle is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road.
Call the police
Notifying the police is a crucial first step if you are involved in a wreck in Sevier County, Tennessee. Even if it is a minor accident and you do not believe you are injured, it is still important that you contact the police immediately. Once the police are notified of a car accident, an officer will come to the accident scene and conduct an investigation. The officer will interview both drivers and get statements from each driver about their recollection of the car accident. Depending upon the specific location of your Sevier County car accident, one of the following agencies will investigate the crash:
- Gatlinburg Police Department
- Pigeon Forge Police Department
- Sevierville Police Department
- Sevier County Sheriff’s Department
Use your phone to snap some photos of the damage to both your vehicle and any other vehicles involved. It’s also a good idea to get photos of the location of the vehicles, as well as the license plate of the other vehicles involved and any debris or tire marks in the roadway. You should also take photos of any injuries you sustained, including cuts and bruises.
Obtain pertinent information from the at-fault driver and any potential witnesses. While you are waiting for the police to arrive (assuming, of course, that you are not seriously injured in the wreck), get the full name, address, phone number and insurance information, including policy number, of the at-fault driver, as well as the contact information of any witnesses. Obtaining witness information is crucial at this stage because witnesses frequently leave the scene prior to the arrival of the police. One way to quickly get information from the other parties/witnesses is to take a photograph of their driver’s licenses and then save their contact information into your phone.
Do not admit fault
Insurance companies can and will twist your words in order to blame you for the collision. Make sure you do not say anything at the scene that could later be used against you.
Seek medical care
If you are feeling pain, go to the emergency room or to a doctor immediately. The insurance companies look at the initial time between the crash and your first medical exam as a key indicator of how hurt you were. The longer the gap in time, the less your claim is worth in their eyes. Make sure you do not minimize your injuries or symptoms. Tell the doctor everything that hurts or does not feel right. Also, tell the doctor if any part of your body hit any part of the interior of your car, such as your knees (dashboard), elbows (door), shoulder (door), chest (steering wheel or airbag), or head (side window). This is critical for medical evidence to use during your injury settlement.
Open a claim
Contact both your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance company to set up a claim as soon as possible.
Understand your coverage
When speaking with your insurance company, ask them to explain all the types of coverage available under your policy. You need to have an understanding of what protections you are entitled to and the specific areas for which you are insured. For example, ask about rental car coverage, uninsured motorist coverage and medical payment coverage.
Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company
You may feel pressured to give a recorded statement soon after the accident, but it is in your best interest to refrain. Your words may be used against you by the at-fault insurance company to justify an inadequate settlement.