Automobile Accidents

Personal Injury

Automobile accidents happen every day. Statistically, you are more likely to be involved in an automobile accident than you are likely to be struck by lightning, attacked by a shark, or involved in a plane crash. Although it may be a scary statistic to think about, automobile accidents are very common in today’s society, but that does not mean they should be taken lightly. Automobile accidents can be dangerous and expensive to everyone involved and that is why it is always a good idea to exercise caution when you are driving. The best way to avoid an accident is to be a cautious, defensive driver, but even in the best of circumstances, accidents happen.

This page is designed to help you better understand the basics of automobile accidents, including the information an individual involved in an automobile accident should provide, whether or not that individual should contact the police, what a witness of an automobile accident is required to do, when a hit and run occurs. This page also details how an attorney may be able to help an individual who has been involved in any type of automobile accident, whether they were a victim or the driver that caused the accident, whether they were a pedestrian or in a car.

Note: Just as with any other legal situation, if a person finds themselves in an automobile accident, whether they were the individual that caused the accident or they are a victim, that individual should not hesitate to contact an attorney. This page details the specifics regarding automobile accidents in the state of Ohio, but can vary from state to state. This article and its contents are merely for informative purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. For accurate and up-to-date legal advice, an individual should contact an attorney or legal professional.

There are many different types of automobile accidents that a person can be involved in. These can vary from a multi-car accident, to running into a parked car that has nobody inside of it.

What Do I Need To Provide?

If an individual is involved in an automobile accident with another person, there is relevant information that the people involved in the accident will be required to exchange. Basically, that individual will want to share their name, address and vehicle registration number with the other person and make sure that the same information is received. Car insurance information is also very important in a situation like this. Both individuals should exchange insurance information, and the person who was not at fault in the incident should contact the relevant insurance company to get a claim started for repairing the damage.

If an individual is involved in an accident with a vehicle that is parked and unoccupied, that individual should leave the information provided above in a note on the car that they hit in order for the car’s owner to contact the appropriate persons.

Do I Contact the Police?

It is a little known fact that the police do not need to, and are not required to respond to, every automobile accident that a person is involved in. Usually, it is only necessary that a police officer respond to an automobile accident if someone involved in the accident was injured. It is important to note that should a person involved in an automobile accident be unable to write down or understand the information that was given to them because of injuries sustained from the accident, that person should not be left alone until the police arrive to assist them.

If the police are called and they respond, the consequences for an automobile accident will be more serious than if it was a minor incident and the police were not required to respond. The police will fill out an accident report, the person at fault will likely have points placed on their license, and there will be a record of the accident on the person’s license.

What Do I Do If I Witnessed An Automobile Accident?

As long as you were not involved in the accident in any way, then there is nothing expected of you under the law in terms of assistance.

When Does An Automobile Accident Become A Hit And Run?

Regardless of whether or not you were the victim or at fault in causing an automobile accident, you are required to stop under Ohio Law. Stopping after an accident is covered under Ohio Revised Code § 4549.03.

ORC § 4549.03 States:
“(A) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in damage to real property, or personal property attached to real property, legally upon or adjacent to a public road or highway immediately shall stop and take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of the property of that fact, of the driver’s name and address, and of the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving and, upon request and if available, shall exhibit the driver’s or commercial driver’s license.

If the owner or person in charge of the property cannot be located after reasonable search, the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident resulting in damage to the property, within twenty-four hours after the accident, shall forward to the police department of the city or village in which the accident or collision occurred, or if it occurred outside the corporate limits of a city or village to the sheriff of the county in which the accident or collision occurred, the same information required to be given to the owner or person in control of the property and give the location of the accident and a description of the damage insofar as it is known.

(B) Whoever violates division (A) of this section is guilty of failure to stop after an accident involving the property of others, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

The offender shall provide the court with proof of financial responsibility as defined in section 4509.01 of the Revised Code. If the offender fails to provide that proof of financial responsibility, then, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, the court may order restitution pursuant to section 2929.28 of the Revised Code in an amount not exceeding five thousand dollars for any economic loss arising from an accident or collision that was the direct and proximate result of the offender’s operation of the motor vehicle before, during, or after committing the offense charged under this section.”

Breaking It Down: If the driver of any vehicle is involved in an accident, whether with another vehicle or property, they must stop and take reasonable care to notify the owner of that property and provide that person with their name, address, vehicle registration number and driver’s license if it is requested. If the owner cannot be found, the person causing the damage must contact the appropriate authorities and notify them of the incident and their information within 24 hours of it occurring. If a person fails to stop and provide their information, they are guilty of failure to stop which is a First Degree misdemeanor in the state of Ohio.

How Can an Attorney Help You?

An attorney can serve several functions in representing a client. This is no different if the individual is responsible for the automobile accident or merely a victim. There are several ways in which an attorney can help.

If an individual is responsible for the automobile accident, there may be extenuating circumstances that an attorney can make the court aware of to grant that person some leniency if they are brought to court because of accident. They can work to ensure that the person who is bringing charges against the driver is legitimate and not just looking to make a quick buck off of an accident.

Similarly, if you are the victim of an automobile accident and you were injured, an attorney can work to make sure that you receive appropriate financial assistance from the at-fault driver to help care for your medical needs that arise out of the incident. This is especially true if the individual who caused the accident is uninsured. An attorney can find a way to work with the legal system to get the victim restitution for their injuries and to cover repairs to their vehicle.

Most importantly, an attorney will do everything they can to ensure that a person’s case results in the best possible outcome for that person. When an individual hires an attorney, they are not just hiring a person to represent them in court; they are also hiring a person to help them better understand the very technical world of the law. The legal field can be a very difficult area for a person to navigate if they are not appropriately and adequately trained in how to read and interpret Ohio’s laws. With the help of an attorney, an individual can ensure that their case is in the best possible hands.