You were having a lovely Sunday afternoon drive, cruising through the city and enjoying the view. Then all of a sudden, your car gets totaled by a brand spanking new BMW. By the time you come to your senses and get out of the car, the BMW has driven off, leaving you with all the issues. Luckily, you got the number plate. Your first thoughts are that luckily you can find the driver with the license tag number. The emergency services arrive on the scene, and then you realize that you suffered injuries. You are left with the trauma of the accident as well as the financial strain of all the costs. The big question remains: what can you do to recover your costs?
What Steps Should I Follow After a Columbus Car Accident?
According to Ohio state law, you are not allowed to drive away from an accident scene. You must stop safely at the scene. Then you must exchange all relevant information with all parties involved, including the name and surname of the driver, licenses and insurance information and addresses. If the driver and the owner of the vehicle are different people, then the owner’s information must also be given.
If someone got hurt or there is property damage of more than $400, or the other driver was uninsured, then you are required to file an accident report with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. You have six months to file the report.
Keep in mind that if someone is unable to provide any information due to injury, you are required by law to stay at the scene until the police and other first responders arrive.
You must take down all necessary details that you think will help you in your case. Always take photos. It is better to have hundreds of pictures of things that are irrelevant than to not have enough photographic evidence. Take photos of the cars involved as well as all number plates. Take an angle that shows the damage to the cars. Road signs and markings are also important, especially if it is a one way or a turn. Traffic lights are also necessary to include in the pictoral proof of the accident.
Take note of your surroundings. Yes, it is a traumatic experience but keeping your head on straight will be beneficial to you in the long run. Listen to what other people are saying. Things like “I was distracted” or “I was looking at the radio” is important, you must take note of that. Use your smart device to your advantage. Make videos and take voice recordings. Also, remember to record the contact details of the first responders and other officials.
Do not, under any circumstance, volunteer any additional information. Never admit fault to the crash or apologize. The safest option is to keep a safe distance from the accident after you have exchanged all the relevant information. If you are not injured, find a safe spot to sit close to your vehicle. Do not engage in any arguments with other people. If you feel threatened, call law enforcement officers if they are not yet on their way to the scene. Refrain from attacking anyone, verbally or otherwise, as this can be used against you.
What Happens in the Aftermath of an Ohio Car Accident
Your first move after your car accident will be submitting a claim with the car insurance company. The Ohio Revised Code section 4509.101, states that it is illegal to drive a car without auto insurance. However, there are amounts attached to this insurance. For one person that is injured or died, the amount is set at $25,000, and for two or more people the amount is set at $50,000. Property damage is set at $25,000. If your damage is more than that amount, you have a second line remedy. You can file a claim with your insurance company if you have the benefit of the additional coverage on your policy. If you do not have that benefit on your policy, then you can go to the third remedy option. This involves a lawsuit. If you have not contacted an attorney would be the perfect time to reach out to an Ohio car accident attorney at Chester Law Group.
A lawsuit can be a very long and stressful process. Having a good attorney will help make the process easier. When you file a lawsuit, you are required to write a complaint with a brief description of what had happened. In the description, you must mention that you are claiming for damages as well as compensation such as trauma and other medical expenses. An experienced auto collision attorney will be able to help you put all the relevant information in the complaint.
There are three courts in which you can file your claim. If your claim is less than $3,000, you can use the court for small claims. Claims between $3,000 and $15,000 are filed in the Franklin County Municipal Court. Claims more than $15,000 are filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. All these courts can be found at South High Street.
Your lawsuit can include a request for compensation for your damages, or if someone has passed away, the family can also sue for wrongful death. For traditional personal injury car accident cases, you must prove that the other driver has been negligent. This is easy to prove if there was a violation of traffic laws or you can prove the defendant was drunk driving. For wrongful death suits, you can request compensation for loss of income, funeral expenses and loss of companionship. Just remember that under your negligence claim, you can claim for medical expenses, trauma, general damages and property damage, especially if your damage was more than the insured amount.
When Should I Contact a Columbus Car Accident Attorney?
It is a wise idea to inform your car accident lawyer at Chester Law Group soon after your car accident. If someone has been seriously injured or has passed away, your lawyer should be your second call after phoning the emergency services. Your lawyer will guide you in the right direction regarding what you should do in the aftermath of your wreck or collision. Forward all the relevant information to your attorney, such as photos and contact details. Even if you do not file a lawsuit, it is a good idea for them to keep a record of it. Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis; thus they will not charge you anything until you have a successful claim.