I Was in a Hit and Run Accident in Ohio. Now What Do I Do?

If you, or someone you love, was involved in an Ohio hit and run accident it can be a frustrating and scary moment. In addition to the shock of the accident, you’re left wondering “What now?” In this article we’ll look closer at hit and run accidents in Ohio and how you can navigate their aftermath.

What is a Hit and Run Accident?

A hit and run accident is exactly what it sounds like. A driver is involved in an accident and intentionally leaves the area with their vehicle. A hit and run can happen in a parking lot after a small fender-bender or on a city street after a high speed collision.

An Ohio hit and run accident can be classified in three ways:

  1. Property Damage – This is when a driver runs over your bike or takes out your mailbox as they drive past your house.
  2. Unattended Vehicle – This is when a driver hits a parked vehicle with no one inside.
  3. Occupied Vehicles – These accidents occur on roadways or in parking lots when one vehicle cuts into another one while both are being driven.

What Should I do After a Hit and Run Accident?

There is one thing you should NOT do after a hit and run accident – chase after the other driver. This could be an unsafe situation and lead to even worse damage and injuries. Instead after a hit and run accident in Ohio you should:

  • Make sure that everyone in the vehicle is safe and does not have any immediate injuries. If they do, call for medical help.
  • Call the police. You will want to do this so that a police report can be created.
  • Look for witnesses. If someone is walking nearby or has pulled over to offer assistance, capture their name and contact information.
  • Record any details you can about the other vehicle. 
    • Did you see what kind of a car it was? 
    • Do you remember its color? 
    • Were you able to get a license plate number? 
    • Did it have any unique stickers or features (like a cracked window, different colored bumper, broken tail light etc).
  • If you are in a safe location, and are able to, take pictures of the damage.
  • Call your insurance company. They will be able to get started on your claim. Depending on the coverage you have, your insurance company may also be able to help secure you a tow truck if needed.

Contact a lawyer. When you are safe at home you can call an experienced accident attorney. They will be able to help you watch for your best interests at each step in the recovery process. 

What are the Laws Around a Hit and Run Accident in Ohio?

There is a law in Ohio that says any driver involved in an accident should pull over and stop. If they can’t safely stop at the scene of the accident, they should stop at a safe location near the accident. Drivers who do not stop are said to be fleeing the scene of the accident. In doing so they may be guilty of a crime.

There are reasons that a person may not stop after an accident. 

  • There was no safe place to stop close to the scene of the accident
  • They did not want to be held responsible for the accident
  • They were unaware that there was any damage caused
  • There were causes to the accident that would lead to other legal charges (i.e. the driver was under the influence)
  • The driver did not have insurance and wouldn’t be able to pay the accident costs out of pocket

If a driver does not immediately stop following the accident they have 24 hours to provide their information to the police or sheriff. 

If the offending driver does not provide this information within 24 hours to law enforcement then they might be found guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. However, if the accident resulted in serious injury or even death the driver of the other vehicle could be found guilty of a felony.

What are the Hit and Run Charges?

In the case of an Ohio hit and run, sometimes known as a ‘hit-skip’, the driver of the vehicle at fault can face specific charges. Depending upon the severity of the accident a hit and run penalty can vary from a misdemeanor to a felony. 

Misdemeanor in the First Degree

If an offender leaves the scene of an accident in Ohio and is found guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree they can face up to six months in jail. They could also be held responsible for paying up to $500 in fines. A driver may also be given at least a six month license suspension. 

Felony of the Fourth Degree 

In Ohio if an offender not only leaves the scene of an accident in, but the accident also results in serious injury or damages, the offender can be found guilty of a felony of the fourth degree. This may result in 6-18 months of imprisonment. It could also cost the convicted driver up to $5,000 in fees.

Felony of the Second Degree 

If the driver of a vehicle leaves the scene of an accident in Ohio and the accident results in death, the charges grow. If convicted, the driver can be found guilty of a felony of the second degree. This court sentence can carry a penalty of at least 2-8 years imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines. 

The situation could also result in points added to your license, the suspension or loss of your driver’s license, a rise in your insurance rates and other consequences.

What Can I Do If I am in an Ohio Hit and Run Accident?

If you are involved in an Ohio hit and run accident there are several things that you can do to recover. Your accident attorney can review all available options with you. They can help you decide which is the best next step to take given your specific circumstance.

For example:

  • You might decide that the damage is negligible and decide to do nothing.
  • If the other car is never found, you may work with your insurance company to cover your damages and injuries.
  • If the driver of the other car is located you may be able to file a claim with their insurance company. You might also bring about a lawsuit against the driver.

What Should I Tell My Insurance Company?

As soon as you can, you will want to let your insurance company know that you were the victim of a hit and run driver. You would do this by filing a claim. Because of the situation, your insurer may ask for details about the accident. To support your claim you may want to provide:

  • A copy of the police report
  • As much of a detailed description of the other vehicles involved as you can provide
  • A statement about what happened (where the accident took place, when it happened, etc)
  • Photos of the damage
  • Any estimates for repairs you may have already gotten
  • Post-accident medical records, therapy referrals, prescriptions and other medical documents
  • Contact information from any witnesses to the hit and run accident

You may also want to supply them with the name and contact information of your Ohio accident attorney. They will be able to help you through the post-accident process and fight for your best interests.

Do I Need Special Insurance Coverage?

Many insurers offer UM/UIM coverage. This is known as Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. This is coverage you would purchase and use for any damages or injuries that came from an accident where the other driver did not have insurance. Or they did not have enough insurance.

14% of US drivers don’t have auto insurance.

In many hit and run situations, the “default” assumption will be to treat the incident as if the other driver was uninsured. That’s simply because (at least initially) there is no way to know if they do have insurance or not. This is why some states mandate drivers have UM/UIM coverage. Ohio is not one of those states. As an Ohio driver you may want to review this policy option with your insurer and decide if it makes sense for you.

Finding an Ohio Hit and Run Accident Lawyer

Being the victim of a hit and run accident can be devastating, confusing and leave you feeling helpless. As a victim of a hit and run accident you have a right to fight for what is owed to you. That’s where an experienced hit and run accident lawyer can help. 

The trusted lawyers at GSAS understand that after a hit and run accident, you need to focus on yourself and putting your life back together. They will fight to protect your rights and help heal some of the harm that has been done in an Ohio hit and run. Contact the team at GSAS today.

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