You were driving along, minding your own business and listening to some music on the radio. Then the pick-up truck in the next lane on Middlebrook Pike veers into your lane and hits your passenger side door before swerving back into their own lane.
The good news is that you aren't hurt and are able to pull the car safely over to the side of the road. Happily, the driver who hit you also pulls over. You both turn off your vehicles and get out.
What comes next? Here's a list of things that need to be done:
Check to see if everyone is okay
First off, you check with any passengers and the other driver to make sure everyone is okay. If anyone needs a trip to the hospital, dial 911 immediately. It's also recommended to call for help even if there are lesser injuries like a nasty lump on the side of your head from where your head hit the driver-side window at impact.
Call law enforcement to report the crash
The Tennessee Department of Safety requires that any vehicle accident where there is more than $400 worth of property damage is considered "reportable." Also included in "reportable" are the injuries or even death. Regardless of whether there was an officer dispatched, you will still need to fill out an accident report. Leaving the scene of the accident before officials arrive can result in your license being suspended. You must report the crash even if the other driver claims to be at fault and wants to pay for damages.
Motorists are required by law to exchange information. This includes name, address and contact information. Also get and give motorist insurance information (if you have it) and license plate number. Get the contact information for any eye-witnesses on the scene as well. Take pictures with your phone of the damage and also the setting of where the accident took place.
Call your insurance agent
You can even do this while you wait for the authorities or a wrecker to arrive. The agent may ask you for additional information or details.
Tell the truth
Tell the responding officer exactly what happened to the best of your knowledge. Do not accuse the other driver of blame or speculate that they were texting or talking on the phone while driving. Let the officer draw their own conclusions.
See a doctor after the fact if you need to
Even though you felt okay after the accident, you woke up the next day with so much back pain that you could hardly get out of bed. Seek medical help immediately - you need to officially document this injury. Back injuries can be extremely debilitating.
Get a lawyer
If you, a friend or a loved is involved in an accident, a smart course of action is to contact an attorney experienced in personal injury and property damage. Insurance is supposed to cover medical expenses and damage to the car, but it may not compensate for the full amount of the damage or acknowledge the full extent of your injury. No matter what, insurance does not cover the pain and suffering you go through during your recovery. An attorney can look after your best interest, often giving you a better chance to be properly compensated.