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Memphis Hit and Run Personal Injury Lawyer

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Were you or a loved one hurt by a hit and run driver in Memphis or Shelby County, TN?

Finding a driver who fled the accident scene can be challenging. Our award-winning law firm has investigated cases like these for over 40 years. Let us help you.

The first emotion most people experience after being in a hit and run car accident is shock and disbelief, quickly followed by anger and rage at the driver who fled the scene. Having your life upended by a car crash is stressful enough, but this situation can cause even more anxiety if the other driver is nowhere to be found.

Sadly, hit and runs are quite common in the greater Memphis area and Tennessee as a whole. In 2009 (the most recent data available from the Tennessee Department of Safety), there were 5,175 reported hit and runs in Shelby County alone—accounting for over 30 percent of the total hit and runs statewide. Historically, hit and runs in Memphis and Shelby County have been higher than anywhere else in the state.

What's more, a vast majority of these hit and run cases (nearly 65 percent, in 2009) are never resolved, meaning the driver is never found. In other words, only 1 in 3 hit and run victims is able to pursue justice and compensation from the at-fault driver.

The many obstacles and odds hit and run victims must overcome can be disparaging and cause them to lose hope. But don't give up! There may yet be steps we can take to help you and your family recover financially following a serious hit and run—starting by launching a thorough investigation to find the at-fault driver and pursuing all available remedies through your insurance company.

If you are reading this after fleeing the scene of a crash, then you should seek advice from a hit and run defense lawyer. Here at Gilreath & Associates, we specialize in representing hit and run accident victims and their families.

At Gilreath & Associates, our Memphis car accident lawyers have proudly served residents of Memphis, Shelby County and West Tennessee for over 40 years. In that time, Gilreath lawyers have been successful in thousands of cases, helping clients receive just compensation for their injuries and restore their quality of life.


If you or a loved one were seriously injured by a hit and run driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss.

Contact our Memphis injury attorneys to discuss your legal options and seek justice in your case.

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Why Do People Hit and Run?

The state of Tennessee considers a hit and run a criminal offense, which can result in jail time, driver's license suspension and hefty fines. So the question is:

Why do some people risk getting on the wrong side of the law by leaving the accident scene?

It's hard to fully know every person's motives, but some of the most common reasons include:

  • Unlicensed/uninsured. If a driver is unlicensed or uninsured with no financial means to pay for damages out-of-pocket, they may be more likely to avoid calling law enforcement or not stop altogether out of fear of the consequences (and fines) of not obeying the proper driving requirements.
  • Impaired driving. Drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs may flee an accident scene out of fear that they'll get caught by police and arrested. The substance they ingested might also inhibit their decision-making abilities, causing them not to rationally consider the consequences of their actions.
  • Distracted driving. When a driver knows they were in the wrong, such as if they were texting and driving, they may be more inclined to flee the scene to avoid punishment.
  • Stolen vehicle. People who are driving a stolen car or who don't have permission to drive the car commonly hit and run to avoid run-ins with the law.
  • Company vehicle. Drivers who hit another car in a company-owned vehicle may flee the scene out of fear that they will lose their job.
  • Criminal activity. Hit and runs frequently happen when the driver has an outstanding warrant or criminal record that causes them to flee the accident scene to avoid the police. The same is true if the driver is transporting illegal substances or weapons in the vehicle.
  • Fight or flight. Sometimes, none of these factors are true and the hit and run driver simply panicked and left the scene. This is more common among inexperienced and teen drivers who fail to truly understand the consequences of their actions.

Regardless of the motive, there's no right reason to flee an accident scene. If the at-fault driver can be found, Tennessee judges and courts will be on your side when it comes to obtaining justice and compensation from the hit and run driver.

That's where our Tennessee personal injury lawyers can help.

Car Accidents: Verdicts & Settlements

When choosing a Tennessee personal injury law firm, an attorney's experience and proven results can make a big difference in your case outcome. Our attorneys represented countless individuals injured in catastrophic automobile crashes. Here are just a few examples of compensation recovered for our clients.


What To Do After a Hit and Run

The moments after a hit and run can be frightening. During this time, it's essential you follow certain steps to protect yourself and your financial future. Here are the steps you should take after a hit and run:

Step 1: Call the police

If you or a passenger in your vehicle is hurt, dial 9-1-1 immediately and try not to move. Tell the dispatcher if you or someone else is hurt so that they send an ambulance as well. If you are too injured to call, ask a bystander to do so for you.

Even if nobody was hurt and you may not have even been in the car when the damage occurred (for example, if it happened in a parking lot or driveway while you were inside), it's vital that you call local law enforcement to file an official report. If nobody was hurt, then you can call the non-emergency local police line to get an officer sent to the scene.


Step 2: Gather evidence

If you can do so without further injuring or endangering yourself, try to get as much information about the hit and run driver as possible. See if you or anyone else remembers:

  • The driver's license plate number and/or state
  • The vehicle make, model and color
  • Which part of the other vehicle struck you (where the damage is)
  • Which direction the driver fled
  • Characteristics of the driver

Also, take pictures of your own vehicle and injuries, and note the approximate time of the collision.


Step 3: Find witnesses

Ask nearby drivers, pedestrians or bystanders if they witnessed the hit and run. If so, ask if they'll stay at the scene to talk to the police. Also, write down their names and contact information in case you or your attorney need to get in touch with them later on.

You might also consider checking local stores to find out if they have a security camera that might have captured the crash.


Step 4: Seek medical care

If you were injured, then you may not be able to stay at the scene to talk to police and gather evidence, and that's okay. The responding officers should do an investigation for you. Either way, your top priority should be to seek medical treatment immediately after the wreck. Follow what the paramedics or officers say regarding emergency medical care, and attend all follow-up medical appointments.

Even if you "feel fine" and don't appear to be hurt, it's wise to schedule an appointment with your doctor or go to an urgent care facility as soon as possible to get checked out. Some injuries don't appear right away and are masked by adrenaline. Scans and X-rays can determine if you are truly fine or require further treatment.


Step 5: Notify your insurer

It's important to call and notify your auto insurance company about the incident right away, even if the other driver was responsible and hasn't yet been located. This is because most insurance policies require the insured (you) to notify the insurance company of an accident within a set deadline. Failing to do so could nullify your policy and be used to deny coverage.


Step 6: Consult an attorney

Whether you were injured, suffered property damage or both, it's imperative that your next move be to consult with an experienced car accident attorney near you. At Gilreath & Associates, our Memphis team can review any evidence you and the responding officer were able to collect and launch a rigorous investigation to find the at-fault driver. We'll also skillfully negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you get the maximum compensation possible.

Tennessee Hit and Run Laws

Tennessee laws are clear in regard to leaving the scene of an accident. Tennessee Code §55-10-101 states:

The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible…

In short, anyone who is involved in a crash or accident that causes damage or injury to another vehicle or person must immediately stop. If a person cannot immediately stop for whatever reason, they must return to the scene and wait for the police to arrive.

In Tennessee, everyone is required to report a crash to the Department of Safety within 20 days if the accident resulted in:

  • Death or injuries
  • Property damage of $1,500 or more for private property
  • Property damage of $400 for state or government property
Failing to stop and report an accident is a criminal offense in Tennessee.

Hit and run penalties

If caught, a driver who flees the accident scene in Tennessee can face severe punishments. These penalties vary depending on the severity of the accident.

  • Minor property damage, no injuries. If the hit and run resulted in minor property damage (less than $400) and no injuries, the driver may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. Penalties can include a $50 fine and up to a 30-day jail sentence.
  • Serious property damage, no injuries. If the accident resulted in property damage totaling more than $400, the driver may face fines, jail time and have their license suspended.
  • Injuries. If a hit and run resulted in someone's injury, the at-fault driver could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, license suspension and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Death. If a driver leaves the accident scene that they knew or should have known resulted in a person's death, they may be charged with a felony and earn up to 6 years in prison.

Criminal vs. civil cases

It's important to note that even if the hit and run driver is found and charged with a criminal offense for fleeing the scene, you will likely still have to pursue a civil claim against the driver for your damages. This is because criminal cases are intended to punish the wrongdoer, not compensate the victims. While a criminal charge can help make your civil case stronger, it's important not to mistake these 2 different types of law.

For help with your civil claim, reach out to our Memphis personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. There is a legal deadline in car accident cases, known as the "statute of limitations", which limits the amount of time to file a civil case. Don't delay.

uninsured driver car accident


Every state has a law requiring drivers to be covered with a minimum amount of liability insurance. The minimum amount varies from state to state, so let's take a look at what this minimum coverage law could mean to you and your family.

Who Pays for a Hit and Run in Tennessee?

Tennessee is an "at fault" state when it comes to car accident liability, meaning the driver who is at fault for an accident is legally responsible for the costs of damages and injuries. Generally, the at-fault driver's insurance company is ultimately who pays for the damages of the crash victims.

However, in hit and run cases where the at-fault driver cannot be found, Tennessee drivers may be able to turn to their own insurance company to cover their medical expenses, lost wages and vehicle repair bills.

Many Tennesseeans elect to pay for additional uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage under their auto insurance policy. UM/UIM policies generally cover accidents involving an uninsured driver as well as hit and run collisions. However, such coverage is not required in Tennessee, so some drivers may not be covered in this way.

If that's the case for you, don't give up hope. Our Memphis accident attorneys are skilled at dealing with insurance companies; rest assured that we will do our best to examine your policy line-by-line to determine what coverage you may be provided.

When to Consult an Auto Accident Attorney

Hit and runs are some of the most complex car accident cases due to the fact that it may be difficult (or impossible) to locate the at-fault driver. Figuring out how to navigate the legal system and communicate with insurance companies—all while coping with the physical, emotional and financial damage that arises in the aftermath of a serious crash—is often more than many accident victims can bear.

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a hit and run, know that you're not alone. At Gilreath & Associates, we are here to serve the people of Memphis in the most challenging car accident cases.

For the last 40+ years, we've stood alongside accident victims and fought vigorously for their right to justice and compensation. Whether it's locating the at-fault driver or negotiating a fair settlement with insurers, we aren't afraid to do what needs to be done to secure financial relief for you and your family. We may even be able to help secure punitive damages awarded on top of other compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.

By hiring an experienced and professional attorney to represent you, you can even the playing field and turn the odds of winning in your favor. From our law office in the heart of downtown Memphis on Jefferson Ave., we serve people in West Tennessee and across the southeast by securing the best possible outcome in their personal injury and accident cases. When you're ready to learn more about how we can help you, we invite you to reach out.

Ready to discuss your case?
Contact our Tennessee car accident attorneys today for your free consultation.

Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions

  • What should I do if I have a car accident in Tennessee or elsewhere?
  • What not to do after a car accident in Tennessee?
  • What should I do after I have left the scene of the car accident?
  • What if the other driver is at fault and has no insurance?
  • Will my policy pay for a rental car if my car is damaged?
  • If my car is totaled, will insurance pay off my car note?
  • What is the meaning of "subrogation" when applied to my automobile insurance?

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