Issues of pedestrian safety again come to mind upon learning of another pedestrian fatality in the Cincinnati area. Sadly, a woman out for a jog was killed when she entered a crosswalk and was struck by a vehicle at a Liberty Township intersection. Details about the accident were sparse, but one important detail stands out – the driver in this deadly accident stayed at the scene. This is, of course, the right thing to do, yet so often drivers do not do the right thing.
Ohio Law and the Issue of Hit and Run Accidents
Hit and run accidents are a serious problem in Ohio as well as throughout the rest of the country. As in many other jurisdictions, Ohio law addresses the issue and sets forth a driver’s responsibility quite clearly, both when an accident results in damage to property only, as well as when an accident causes injury or death to a person.
A Driver’s Responsibility in Property Damage Accidents
Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.03 specifically addresses a driver’s responsibilities when an accident occurs and damage to property results. When these situations arise, the driver is required to immediately stop and try to determine the property owner. Once the driver locates the property owner, he or she must then provide proper personal contact information as well as vehicle information. In cases where the driver cannot determine who owns the damaged property, they have the responsibility to provide this same information within 24 hours to proper law enforcement officials. A violation of this law is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
How Does the Driver’s Responsibility Change When Other People Are Involved?
While property damage is nothing to be taken lightly, accidents that result in the injury to or death of a person are far more serious. Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.02 sets forth the law with respect to accidents of these types. When a driver has an accident while operating a motor vehicle, he or she has the obligation to stop at the scene of the accident and remain there until he or she has given the proper information to anyone else involved in the accident as well as any law enforcement officers present at the scene. The information required to be provided is the same whether the accident is one in which there is solely property damage or involvement of other individuals: personal contact information and vehicle information. As is sometimes the case, however, some individuals involved in an accident may not be in a condition to accept the information due to various factors surrounding the types of injuries incurred, and in these types of cases, the driver is required to notify the proper authorities and remain at the scene until help arrives. As with accidents involving only property damage, a driver’s violation of this law is a misdemeanor of the first degree; however, in the case in which serious physical harm or death results from the accident, a driver’s failure to stop is far more serious. For accidents resulting in a victim’s serious physical harm, a failure to stop becomes a felony of the fifth degree, and in those tragic accidents that result in someone’s death, the violation of this law is a felony of the third degree.
A Full Range of Punishments and Penalties
Hit and run accidents often have far more serious consequences simply because an injured party may not get the help they need nearly as quickly as they need it, and often times it can make the difference between life and death. It is not surprising, then, that the penalties are far worse when a driver chooses to leave the scene of an accident than to follow their obligation to stay as set forth in the law. In addition to the potential course of action under civil law that a victim may choose to pursue, and the criminal penalties associated with the classification of the action as either a misdemeanor or felony as described above, there are also penalties of a more administrative nature such as driver’s license suspension for at least six months, depending upon the circumstances of each individual case. In cases in which insurance coverage is also an issue, additional penalties such as restitution may be imposed by the court upon the driver.
An Increase in Hit and Run Crashes
Hit and run crashes have become more and more of a problem not only in Ohio but across the nation. According to one report, this increase occurred during a three-year time period during which the overall number of traffic deaths had decreased. Further, a significant percentage of the hit and run accidents that result in fatalities involve pedestrians. The reasons for this increase in hit and run accidents are likely a combination of several individual factors. For one, the increased penalties for driving under the influence may scare drivers out of staying at the scene of an accident. Other similar fear-based reasons for fleeing the accident scene may include a driver’s lack of a valid license or auto insurance; being afraid of getting caught driving without a license or the required insurance can cause some people who would normally ‘do the right thing’ to contemplate actions they might not normally consider.
When You Have Been Injured in an Auto Accident, Contact the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers
Finding the right attorney is the most important first step when you have been involved in an accident. If you have suffered injuries as a result of an auto accident, the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers can help. Our attorneys have a wide range of experience handling all types of auto accident cases and know the critical questions to ask for each set of facts. As our client, your case will receive the individual and personal attention needed to ensure the best possible result. Our experienced Ohio auto accident legal professionals want you to feel informed about your rights and responsibilities under the law, as well as confident about their representation of your legal matter. Contact us now to speak with us to schedule your free consultation today.