It’s a no-brainer that you need to call 911 and wait for police and emergency responders to arrive if you collide with another at an intersection and sustain both injuries and vehicular damage. But what if you lightly bump into the back of another vehicle while in traffic, or if you scrape a vehicle in a parking lot while trying to navigate a tight parking space? How about if you back into an object on your own property?
Tennessee law states that all accidents that involve injuries or deaths or property damage totaling or exceeding $400 must be reported to police. Contrary to popular belief, simply calling 911 and letting the responding police officer complete an accident report does NOT satisfy that requirement.
All accidents must still be reported to the Commission of Safety and Homeland Security within 20 days of them occurring, even if police respond to the accident scene and complete their own report. You can download and print a copy of the accident report sheet here.
However, not all crashes result in injuries, deaths, or even property damage totaling $400. For example, some crashes occur at such slow speeds that all of the impact is absorbed by both vehicles’ bumpers, resulting in no visible damage. When these crashes occur, it’s still important for both drivers to check their vehicles, and if both drivers agree that no damage was incurred, there’s no need to call 911.
But if a similar crash occurs in a parking lot, it’s recommended to leave contact information on the windshield of the impacted vehicle, even if damage is minimal or even not visible. This allows the other driver a chance to inspect the damage and determine if further action is needed, including reporting it to their insurance.