So, you are on the way home from the Toledo Zoo, or on your way to the Third Fifth Field to see the Toledo Mud Hens play, and by the looks of the traffic, so is everyone else. Slowing down to stop for traffic ahead of you, the driver behind you doesn’t notice, until they crash into your car. Your car is obviously damaged, and you are a bit stunned. Do you know what you should do, or who you should call?
Besides calling your friend or family member you were on the way to meet, there are some other steps you should consider following, in case there might be a lawsuit or settlement in the near future.
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, keeping track of recorded traffic fatalities in Ohio started in the 1930’s, and the lowest ever recorded was in 2013, which was encouraging, but only temporarily. Unfortunately, after that all-time low record, the number has again been on the rise for the last 2 years. After 990 in 2013, the number of traffic deaths rose in 2014 at 1,008, and even higher in 2015 at 1,057. In addition, for 2015, the number of reported crashes with injury was 75,109, and PDO’s (property damage only) was 226,169.
Considering that accidents and fatalities are on the rise again, there are some things you might want to know ahead of time.
Is it Necessary to Report a Car Accident in Toledo?
It isn’t always necessary to report a car accident you are involved with in the state of Ohio. However, it is a requirement to report an automobile accident, or file a “Crash Report” with the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles), no later than 6 months from the date the accident occurred, for the following situations:
- If anyone is injured as a result of the accident
- If the property damage that occurred during the accident is a minimum of $400
- If the driver, or owner, of the car involved in the accident does not have an active auto insurance policy, or a form of financial responsibility coverage that is acceptable.
If any of the above is the case for your car accident, whether it be you, or the other driver/owner, the Crash Report must be filed within 6 months.
Insurance Laws in the State of Ohio
If you are a licensed Ohio driver, you are required by law to have liability car insurance, which will help cover the cost of property damage and injuries, that stem from an auto accident. In other words, it’s not legal to drive any motorized vehicle in the state of Ohio, if you don’t have insurance, or at least some of proof of FR (financial responsibility). With that coverage, it must include the following minimum sum of insurance:
- A minimum of $25,000/person that is injured in any single accident
- A minimum of $50,000 for all person(s) that are injured in any single accident
- A minimum of $25,000 for property damages for others in a single accident
Ohio, like most other states, is an at-fault auto insurance state. What this means is that a person who is at fault will be responsible for any loss or damage to the property. For example, if a person driving down the road happens to collide with your car, a claim could be filed through the other driver’s insurance company. However, if the total damages surpass the limits within their policy, the owner of the policy will be responsible, from a legal standpoint, to reimburse for the damages that insurance does not cover. d
Ohio Settlements for Auto Accidents
After a claim has been filed with the insurance company, the next step is that you will hear from a claims adjuster. It is their job to make an offer. You can decide if the offer they make is fair, or not. If you don’t think it’s a reasonable settlement offer, you have the opportunity to appeal that offer to the insurance company’s claims supervisor. However, it’s possible that you won’t find their offer or decision as being fair either. If not, you have the option to file a complaint, in writing, with the Ohio Department of Insurance. They will then decide if the settlement was fair.
There is another option. You could take the case to court. If you decide to sue the other driver, it will be heard in county court if it goes to trial. The majority of car accident cases do not make it to trial though. The court will likely encourage all parties to go through a mediation process, negotiate, and reach an agreement for settlement before it goes to trial.
What is the Average Settlement for an Ohio Auto Accident?
Settlements for an auto accident isn’t decided in a one-size-fits-all calculation process. There isn’t an absolute calculation to determine an amount for personal injury damages. It all depends on the individual case and the involved parties on the amount of settlement you could receive, and varies for emotional and physical pain and distress.
However, there is a cap in Ohio for non-economic damages, which is $250,000, or 3 times the awarded economic damages. Economic damages include:
- Lost wages due to missed work
- Medical expenses
- Repairs or replacement of the car
Non-economic damages are referring to areas such as physical pain and emotion stress.
Time Limits in Filing an Ohio Car Accident Lawsuit
Ohio law allows a person 2 years, from the time of the accident, to file a claim or lawsuit for both property damages and personal injury. If you miss this deadline, your case will not be heard or considered.
Therefore, if you are even considering the option of filing, make sure you get started before the 2 years is up. Another limitation in Ohio is if you are responsible, even in part, for the accident. Ohio law states that if you are 50% at fault, or more, you are then responsible for your damages as well.
If you are considering, or in doubt about whether you have a case or not, it’s best to contact a skilled car accident injury attorney in Toledo, Ohio. Chester Law Firm can help you decide if you have a case that should be pursued, and then go to work for you, to fight for what you are entitled to get.