Driving home from The Horseshoe, witnessing another Buckeyes win, your elation is suddenly wiped out when you are hit from behind at a red light. Or, running errands in the Columbus area during rush hour, someone runs a red light and T-bones your car. What do you do now?
It really doesn’t matter where you were going, or what you were heading home from. If you were involved in a car accident, there are certain steps you should take and information you should know. First, let’s take a look at some statistics. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety:
- Ohio started tracking traffic fatalities back in the 1930’s
- Lowest recorded number of fatalities was in 2013 with 990
- The numbers have risen in 2014 and 2015 with 1,008 and 1,057
- Number of reported traffic accidents in 2015 was 75,109
- Number of reported PDO’s (property damage only) in 2015 was 226,169
As you can see, the number of fatalities and crashes are on the rise again. If you are one of the unfortunate, and find yourself involved in an auto accident, the information that follows will be beneficial.
Is Reporting an Auto Accident a Requirement in Columbus?
Not necessarily. It is not a law or requirement to report all car accidents that occur in the state of Ohio. However, there are some exceptions. The state of Ohio requires a person involved in an auto accident to file a report at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), called a “Crash Report”, if the following occurs:
- If there is an injured party, resulting from the car accident
- When the property damage stemming from the accident is greater than $400
- If the owner/driver of the auto involved in the crash does not own an active auto insurance policy, or some type of acceptable financial responsibility coverage.
If the accident involves any of the above, a Crash Report must be filed, and done so within 6 months of the accident.
The Ohio Laws for Auto Insurance
Liability car insurance is a requirement in the state of Ohio, if you are a licensed driver and own a car. The insurance is necessary to help recoup the cost of any injuries and property damage caused by the accident.
A person is not allowed to drive in the state of Ohio if they do not have proper auto insurance, or some type of provable financial responsibility. The requirements for that coverage include:
- $25,000 (minimum) for each injured person in a single auto accident
- $50,000 (minimum) for each person who is wounded in a single auto accident
- $25,000 (minimum) for property damages on behalf of others in a single auto accident
Similar to most other states, Ohio is an “at-fault” car insurance state. At-fault insurance means that whoever is at fault for the accident will be accountable for the loss or damages of the property involved. An example of that is when a person who is driving down the road hits your car, the claim could either filed with their insurance company.
If the entire sum of damages go over the policy’s limits, the policy owner is held legally responsible, to reimburse for the damages that your policy does not cover.
Settlements in the State of Ohio
Once the claim has been officially filed with the insurance company, a claims adjuster will get involved. After assessing the damages and the report, they will then make an offer. That doesn’t mean you have to accept the offer they make. If you feel it’s not a reasonable offer, you have the right to appeal. This is done through a claims supervisor at the insurance company. But, that offer might not be acceptable to you either. At that point, you have the opportunity to file a written and formal complaint with the Ohio Department of Insurance. They will then make a judgement if they think the settlement was reasonable.
Another option for you is to take your case to court. If you opt to bring a lawsuit against the other driver, the county court will rule over the case. However, many lawsuits in auto accident cases never make it to trial. The reason is because the court will strongly encourage the involved parties to settle before it gets that far. This could be done through mediation and negotiations, and could prevent an emotional and drawn out trial.
What do Ohio Car Accidents Settlements Average?
This question is difficult to answer, as there isn’t a cookie-cutter number, or a definitive way to calculate what the settlement will be. Each case is looked at individually and will be determined by the parties involved with the accident. The monies awarded in a settlement will depend on the amount of physical pain and emotional distress the party suffers.
Having said that, Ohio does place a cap on non-economic damages. That cap is either $250,000 or 3 times the amount of economic damages that was awarded. Types of economic damages include the following:
- Lost wages from missing work
- Medical expenses incurred
- Repairing or replacing the car
On the other side of that, non-economic damages pertain to things such as emotional stress and physical pain, which cannot be specifically calculated.
Time Restrictions for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Ohio
There is a limit to how long you can wait to file a lawsuit for an auto accident. In Ohio, that time is 2 years from the date of the accident. That includes both personal injury and property damages. After the 2-year mark, your case will not be considered.
So, if you are thinking of making a move in filing a lawsuit, be sure to start the process within that timeframe. One more area that Ohio limits is the responsibility. If you are at least 50% at fault for the accident, the laws in Ohio state you are also responsible for the damages.
If filing a lawsuit for an auto accident is something you are considering, the least you should do is consult with an experienced Columbus, Ohio car wreck attorney. Chester Law Firm will be able to assist you in deciding whether or not you have a legitimate case. If you do, they will then fight for your rights in obtaining a fair and reasonable outcome.