So, you are minding your own business, driving home from work during rush hour on Reading Road, and without warning someone pulls out in front of you just south of Tennessee Avenue. You try to stop, but time doesn’t allow it before you ram their car. It would not necessarily be shocking, since that is one of the most dangerous spots in Cincinnati when it comes to traffic accidents.
Regardless of where it happened, knowing what to do after you are involved in an accident will help when the chaos hits. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, fatalities as a result of a traffic accident is on the rise again, after hitting an all-time low in 2013. In fact, that was the lowest year recorded since they started keeping track back in the 1930’s. In 2014, the number went up to 1,008, and even higher in 2015, at 1,057. The number of non-fatal accidents with injury was reported at 75,109 in 2015, and there were 226,169 PDO’s (property damage only) reported that same year.
Considering that in 2014 Cincinnati ranked #3, in the list of cities in Ohio with the highest traffic accidents, having some information ahead of time might be beneficial.
Are You Required to Report an Auto Accident in Cincinnati?
Under certain circumstances, yes, it is. You are required to file a “Crash Report” with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), if you are involved in an accident in the state of Ohio and the following applies to your specific case:
- If someone is injured during the accident
- If there is at least $400 worth of property damage that occurred during the accident
- If the owner or driver of the other car involved in the accident does not have either an active car insurance policy, or acceptable financial responsibility coverage
If any of the above applies to either you, or the driver of the other vehicle, the Crash Report needs to be filed, and must be filed within 6 month of when the accident occurred.
What Are the Laws in the State of Ohio?
You must carry a liability car insurance policy if you drive and own a vehicle in the state of Ohio. This is to help with coverage of costs amassed during the accident, including both physical injuries and property damage. Legally, any driver operating a motorized vehicle in the state of Ohio, must have coverage that includes the following provisions:
- A minimum of $25,000 per each injured person in any single accident
- A minimum of $50,000 for all people involved and is injured in any single accident
- A minimum of $25,000 for property damage to others in a single accident
Furthermore, Ohio is an at-fault car insurance state, rather than a no-fault. With no-fault, each driver files a claim with their own insurance company. However, with at-fault, the person who is responsible for the accident is also responsible for property damage and loss. So, if you are hit at the fault of another driver, you would file a claim against their policy. And, if their policy is not adequate to cover all damage and loss, the owner or driver is then responsible to reimburse you for the difference that their policy does not cover.
Car Accident Settlements in Cincinnati
Once you have filed a claim with an insurance company, you will hear from a claims adjuster from their company. Their job is to evaluate the case, by examining the damage, reading all the reports from the officer and witnesses, and then make you an offer. That offer may, or may not be fair. If you don’t believe it is fair, you could then use your option to appeal this offer with the claims supervisor within the insurance company. They will determine whether or not they should adjust that offer and make you another one, if they believe they should offer more.
You may not like that second offer either. If you don’t find that either offer is fair, then you should file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Insurance. This complaint needs to be in writing before they will address it, and they will now determine if they believe it’s fair.
Another option you have is to take your case to court. This would be filing a lawsuit against the other driver, and will be heard in a Hamilton County Court. You will most likely never see your lawsuit go to trial though, as most cases are settled before that happens. The reason is because the judge will strongly encourage all parties to negotiate and settle, rather than take up time in the court room, so they can free up time for other cases.
Is There an Average Settlement for Auto Accidents in Ohio?
No, not really. It’s difficult to know ahead of time what to expect, for various reasons. First, not all cases are the same. Nor, are the defendants, attorneys, judges, or juries. But, while pain and suffering can’t be measured accurately, it is possible to obtain a financial award for it. Just know that Ohio has a cap for non-economic damages. That cap is $250,000, or 3 times the amount awarded for economic damages. Economic damages are defined as the following:
- Lost wages while off work
- Expenses for medical treatment
- Cost of repairing or even replacing the vehicle
What is capped in the non-economic damages, when being awarded money for physical pain or emotional distress.
Can You File a Lawsuit Any Time After an Auto Accident?
No. In Ohio, you must file a lawsuit or claim for both property damages and personal injuries within 2 years of the accident. After the 2 years is up, so is your opportunity to recoup your losses.
So, if you are not sure whether or not you should file a claim or a lawsuit, it would be best to talk to a professional who can guide you in your decision. A licensed and experienced Cincinnati car accident attorney at Chester Law Firm in Cincinnati will be able to assess your case and best guide you in what your next move should be. If you do move forward, they will then fight for a reasonable settlement that is fair for you.