Accident Guide in Tennessee

Unfortunately, accidents happen, and from a simple fender bender to a severe head-on collision, most accidents in Tennessee must be reported to at least one agency: your local law enforcement agency or the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS).

Report to Law Enforcement

If you're involved in a vehicle accident, chances are you're going to need to report it to your local Tennessee law enforcement agency.


All accidents that involve personal injury, death, and property damage that exceeds $50 must be reported. Let's face it: Most automobile accidents cause more than $50 in property damage.

Report to the Tennessee Department of Safety

The Tennessee Department of Safety classifies certain accidents as "reportable." This means anyone involved in these kinds of accidents must report them to the DOS.

Such reportable accidents include those that involve personal injury, death, and property damage that exceeds $1500. You report an accident using the Owner/Driver Report (Form SF-0395). This form is available online, at a law enforcement agency, or your local Highway Patrol office.

Note that you must report the accident within 20 days of the accident. Failing to report a "reportable" accident could cause your driver's license and/or your registration to be suspended.

Insurance Requirements

After the accident has been reported to the DOS, you must show proof of adequate car insurance, unless you have notarized releases from each person involved in the accident.

You can claim financial responsibility in one of following ways:

  • Show proof of insurance from your auto insurance company.
  • Post a surety bond or cash in the amount that covers all damages. (Post the bond or provide the cash to the DOS.)

If you can't show proof of insurance or post a bond or cash to the DOS, not only will your driver's license be revoked; your vehicle registration will be revoked, too. They'll be reinstated once you have an insurance company file an SR-22 Form.

Handling a Vehicle Accident

Accident reports aside, there are other ways in which you must handle a car accident. Below are a few tips to help you get prepared:

  • Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident or, if you need to unblock traffic, as close to the scene as possible.
  • Make sure all vehicles involved are turned off.
  • Call the nearest law enforcement agency.
  • Exchange information with the other driver―names, addresses, telephone numbers, driver's license numbers, vehicle registrations, and car insurance information―and then wait for help to arrive.

If someone is seriously injured, you should only administer basic first aid assistance, i.e., covering the victim to keep him warm, wrapping wounds with clean material, or administering CPR.

Never move the victim unless it's absolutely necessary for his safety. If you do, make sure you keep him in the same position. In other words, don't drape him over your shoulders; don't bend his neck, waist, or knees; and don't drag him.


Owner/Driver Report
You MUST submit this form to the Tennessee DOS after being involved in a car crash resulting in excessive property damage, bodily injury, OR death.
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