Most car accidents leave those involved shocked and confused, causing them to lose focus of the immediate steps to take after the occurrence. Taking crucial and decisive steps immediately after a car accident helps you maximize your payout and prevent adverse legal issues.
Ohio has a high car accident rate, and they end either in minor, severe, or fatal injuries. If you are involved in an accident, you should contact a Cincinnati car accident lawyer to help you deal with the applicable state laws, insurance companies, and accident reports. But before doing that, you should take these steps.
Stop, Help the Injured, and Call 911
Human instinct makes you have a fight or flight response following a car crash. One would make you want to remain at the scene, while the other will make you flee the scene and commit a hit-and-run offense.
Ohio car accident law provides that drivers must stay at the crash site after a collision and do one of the following:
- If there’s an injury, call the 911 dispatcher; provide the information on the crash location, the number of people injured, and the severity of their injuries. Let the dispatcher know if disabled cars are on the roadway, if anyone is trapped in the wreck, requires extraction, and to request a tow truck.
- If there’s no injury, and it’s a collision with a parked car or property, call the Ohio Highway Patrol. While waiting for them to arrive, provide your name, address, phone number, and vehicle registration number to the car or property owner. If you leave the scene before law enforcement arrives, ensure you report the accident within 24 hours.
You can provide first aid to an injured victim while waiting for the first responders to arrive. Under Ohio’s Good Samaritan Law, you will not be held liable for helping an injured person unless such assistance constitutes willful or wanton misconduct.
Gather Evidence From the Crash Site
While you’re still trying to pull yourself together after a crash, the site evolves quickly with a flurry of activities. Cars pull or get towed away, taking their drivers with them, witnesses move on to other things, medics take the injured to the hospital, while the police investigate and clear the scene.
You must be alert and gather as much photographic or video evidence as you can from the scene before the above activities happen. It will help your claim for property damages or personal injury against the negligent driver or your defense if you are the motorist at fault.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Having insurance coverage for your vehicle is vital and extremely helpful when you get into a car collision. After an accident, the insurer would provide coverage for you up to the amount insured.
You must contact your insurance company immediately after a crash, furnish them with the necessary information and documentation, and cooperate with their investigation. Failing to do so violates the Cooperation Clause’s terms and might lead to your insurer not covering your damages.
Ohio follows a third party liability rule, making it possible for a car accident victim to file a lawsuit for property damage or personal injury against the at-fault driver. To this end, file three claims:
- A lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
- A 1st party claim with your insurance company.
- A 3rd party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Note that you can only bring a third-party claim if another driver crashed into you. If you played a part in the crash, you might not be able to make a claim against the other motorist.
Ohio’s contributory negligence rule provides that accident victims can get compensated for injuries and related damages even though they share in the fault. However, if your contribution to the crash is higher than 51%, then you won’t get any settlement from the other driver.
Why You Need to Contact an Ohio Car Accident Attorney
Ordinarily, if the motor vehicle accident did not involve severe injuries or fatality, you can handle your claim without the help of an attorney. But in instances where severe injuries or fatality exists, you would need to hire a car accident attorney to represent you.
An attorney would handle the legal intricacies, work with the insurance company adjuster, help you negotiate a higher settlement, and file your claim in a court of law if necessary. Consultations with a lawyer at the initial stage come at no charge, and you can schedule a free review of your case today with Young, Reverman, and Mazzei.