The sound of metal crunching, glass shattering, and your body thrashing about the car…no doubt, you’ve just found yourself in the midst of a car accident. You might not have seen it coming, but there’s no mistaking it, you’ve been hit. If you’re fortunate, you can walk away with just some dents in the car, and not any injuries.
Fortunately, more often than not, that is what happens…damages to the car and egos only. The Ohio Department of Public Safety, started to keep track of fatalities occurring through auto accidents in Ohio in the 1930’s. The lowest year ever recorded was 2013, of 990 deaths. Unfortunately, after 2013’s all-time low record, the number started rising again. The number of traffic fatalities rose in 2014 to 1,008, and higher yet in 2015 to 1,057. Additionally, the number of crashes resulting in injury for 2015 was 75,109. And, the number of PDO’s (property damage only), was 226,169.
However, even with what seems to be an insignificant crash, you could still be left with uncertainty, and have questions and concerns on what to do after the dust settles.
Take Precautions Immediately
Most experts can agree on the first two steps to take immediately. The first step is to keep yourself, and everyone involved, safe. In order to best do this, check to make sure nobody is seriously injured, and the vehicles are still operable. If so, get the vehicles and everyone involved out of the road, and turn on the hazards lights. Uninvolved gawkers driving by can turn a minor fender bender into a deadly situation in a split second. Don’t assume that because you are in, or behind the vehicle, that you are in a safe position.
Properly place reflective emergency tools, such as triangles and road flares, if you have them available. This will help oncoming traffic see you better to avoid another accident.
If you must step into the road, such as to exit an inoperable vehicle, try to face the oncoming traffic, if possible. The reason for this is to give you as much notice as possible for a vehicle heading your way. A couple seconds could help prevent further injury or death.
Do Not Accept or Place Blame
This is not the time to be noble and take the blame for the accident, even if you believe it is your fault. Of course, be cooperative and polite. But, don’t admit guilt, not at this time. It’s not uncommon for someone to think they are at fault, only to find out later that there really was a stop sign for the other driver, or their turn signal was out, or any other number of things that you might not have noticed in the chaos at the time of the accident.
Keep an open mind, and your cool at the same time. Any negative reaction could turn a reasonable situation bad, very quickly.
Call 911 to Report the Accident
Some people will prefer to not get the police involved. However, that is not recommended by anyone other than the person requesting it. Here are a few reasons they might not want the police involved:
- In a Hurry – Perhaps they are in a rush to get somewhere. They might have been warned at work if they are late one more time they will lose their job. Or, a concert of event they spent money on is starting in just a few minutes.
- Insurance Premiums – Everyone wants to keep the cost of their insurance premiums down. That’s understandable. And, making a claim against their policy will most likely cause their rates to up.
- Points on Their License – If they are found to be at fault, it could add points to their license, which can in turn, raise their rates and potentially put their license at risk.
- Suspended License or a Warrant – It could also be that they are driving on a suspended license, or there is a warrant out for something they have done in the past.
Regardless of their reason, you might reconsider making it your mistake to accommodate. It could also lead to someone else’s bigger problem in the future. For example, if they drive recklessly because they are habitually late, not reporting this isn’t going to stop that behavior. Or, if they have a suspended license, there is most likely a very good reason they are not allowed to drive, mainly to make the roads safer for others.
If you are walking around after the accident without injury, or even minor injuries, consider yourself lucky. The next person they hit might not be so lucky. And, if that’s not reason enough to report it right away, consider that it won’t prevent them from reporting it after they think about it for a while and decide they want you to pay. This could get you into some trouble, for driving away without reporting the accident.
It’s important to exchange information, such as name, address, phone number, and insurance companies. Also, write the license number down immediately, just in case they leave.
It’s possible that the police might not be able to, or choose not to respond if there aren’t any injuries involved. This is mainly when the accident occurs on private property, or during bad weather conditions when the officers will be overwhelmed with multiple calls all over Columbus.
You should be notified whether the police are coming, or not. If they are not going to show up, take action yourself by taking photos of the scene and damages that occurred to all vehicles involved.
Local laws aren’t always the same between cities, and will change a person’s responsibilities accordingly. For example, in Columbus, if you hit a car that is parked, and the owner can’t be located, you are required to leave a message with your information, and attach it to their vehicle in a way that it won’t blow away, such as under their windshield wiper.
If you go off the road, but no damage occurs, you don’t need to do anything. However, if there is damage, such as running down someone’s mailbox, you are required to make reasonable attempts to notify the owner. Sometimes that might be difficult to do, so you need to file a police report within 24 hours of the incident.
Expect Various Calls from People Wanting to Help
You might be contacted by phone or mail by various professionals, such as chiropractors, lawyers, or body shops, especially in more significant accidents. They get your name and number from public records when a report is made.
If you are not interested in someone’s service, you are certainly not obligated to take them up on their offer. But, some services might be more helpful than you think. For example, an attorney could advise you about issues you are not familiar with or expecting.
An auto accident can drastically complicate your life and overall well-being. Therefore, a determined car accident attorney in Columbus, Ohio can help ease the chaos and pain and suffering.