You have just experienced a wonderful night filled with culture, starting with the Cleveland Institute of Art, and a relaxing dining experience afterward to reflect on the exhibits. On your way home from a night of peace and serenity, you didn’t see it coming, but a car just ran a red light and broadsides you, completely changing everything.
With a sudden altered state of mind, it might take a few minutes to remember what to do. That is, if you know what to do. If you have never experienced an accident, why would you?
Based on a report from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the number of accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, have been on the rise the last couple years, after an all-time low in 2013. They started keeping track of traffic fatalities way back in the 1930’s. After all that time, Ohio experienced a record low number in 2013 of only 990 deaths in traffic accidents. However, 2014 it went up to 1,008, and 1,057 in 2015.
The total reported Ohio crashes in 2015 was 75,109, and 226,169 of PDO’s (property damage only) were reported.
Since the number seems to be on the rise again, it might help to have some information ahead of time, just in case you fall into those statistics.
Reporting an Auto Accident – Is it Mandatory in Cleveland?
The simple answer is, not necessarily. Ohio does not require all traffic and auto incidents to be reported. However, there are some exceptions where a “Crash Report” must be filed with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). And it has to be filed within 6 months of the auto accident. Those exceptions include:
- When the accident results in a person being injured
- If the property damage involved totals $400 or higher
- If the driver/owner of the vehicle involved doesn’t have an active and acceptable auto insurance policy, or some type of adequate financial responsibility coverage
If any of the above applies to the accident you were involved in, a Crash Report must be filed, and done so within 6 months of the date the accident occurred.
Ohio Laws Pertaining to Auto Insurance
Any legally licensed driver in Ohio is required by Ohio law to have a liability auto insurance if they own a vehicle. This policy will assist in coverage for the cost accrued for injuries and property damage that result from a car accident. So, if you are going to drive a motorized vehicle in Ohio, it is a law that you have an acceptable auto insurance policy, or evidence of an acceptable financial responsibility plan. All policies must meet the following minimum requirements:
- At least $25,000 per person who is injured during any single auto accident
- At least $50,000 for all people who are injured in any one accident
- At least $25,000 for any property damage for others that occurred during an accident
Some states have a no-fault policy, which makes all drivers responsible for their own expenses, regardless of who is at fault. However, the state of Ohio is an at-fault state for car insurance. So, if you are not at fault for an accident you are involved in, you could file a claim against the insurance of the person who is at fault. It could also be filed under your policy, but you have the option. If the total cost of damages is higher than the limits within the policy, the driver at fault will be responsible for any excess cost above what the policy covers.
Settlements for an Ohio Auto Accident
The insurance company will have a claims adjuster handle your case once you have filed. They will assess the case and then make you an offer. If you feel that offer is reasonable, you can accept it as is. However, you don’t have to accept it if you don’t think it’s fair. Anytime a driver feels that the settlement offer is not reasonable, they have the right to appeal the offer to the claims supervisor of the insurance company. Although, it’s entirely possible that you feel the amended offer they make is still not adequate. If you are not satisfied with both offers, you can file a written formal complaint with the Ohio Department of Insurance. They will determine if that offer is reasonable, or not.
If you are not happy with that decision, you have the option of taking your case to court. When bringing a lawsuit against the other driver in Cleveland, the case will be heard in Cuyahoga County Court. However, most auto accident cases will not make it to trial, because the court strongly encourages the involved parties to negotiate, in hopes of a settlement prior to trial, which often happens.
Is There an Average Amount for Auto Accidents Settlements in Ohio?
Not really. The settlements occurring in Ohio for personal injury and property damage do not have a one-size-fits-all process and amount to be expected. A definitive calculation process does not exist. Each individual case will have an amount based on the parties involved, and the amount of physical and emotional pain and suffering is involved.
The state of Ohio does however, have caps on non-economic damages. This amounts to $250,000, or 3 times the amount awarded for economic damages. Economic damages are those that are tangible, such as the following:
- Wages that are lost due to missed work
- Expenses for medical treatments
- Cost of repairing or replacing the car
Non-economic damages refer to pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, that are not definitive and easily calculated.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Lawsuit for an Auto Accident?
You will have 2 years from the date of the accident to file your claim or lawsuit, based on Ohio laws. This includes both personal injury and property damages. Your plea will not be heard, if you miss the 2-year deadline.
Also, Ohio has another limitation, and that is if you are responsible, or partly responsible for the accident. If you are at a minimum of 50% at fault, you are then also responsible for the damages as well.
If you think you have a case, but are not sure, contact Chester Law Firm of Cleveland to find out more information, so you can decide if you want to pursue a lawsuit. If you decide to move forward with a case, our determined auto accident legal team in Cleveland, OH will fight for you in and out of court to assure a fair settlement.