Car accidents can happen to anyone, sometimes with devastating and life-changing consequences. No matter how careful you are, you never know when another driver might speed through a traffic light, drive drunk behind the wheel, or experience a momentary and fatal lapse in attention. There were more than 1,100 vehicle accidents in Ohio last year and more than 1,200 deaths on the state’s roads.
Dealing with insurance companies makes the aftermath of a crash even more stressful, so if you are seeking compensation, it’s important you have the best auto accident attorney available to help.
Ohio has an “at fault” rule when it comes to traffic accidents. You can recover damages from the other driver if you are found to be 50% or less at fault; if you are found to be 50% or more at fault, you will be liable to pay damages to the other party.
It is essential, and a legal requirement, to have insurance. Drivers in Ohio must take out both personal injury liability (a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 total) and property damage liability ($25,000 total) insurance. The amount you can claim from another driver varies depending on the level of responsibility you are found to have had in the crash, if any. For instance, someone found to be 20% at fault will get less than someone who is only 10% at fault. For the best outcome, we recommend seeking legal advice from an experienced car accident attorney before dealing with your insurance provider or the other party’s insurer.
Steps immediately after the crash
If you, one of your passengers, or someone in the other car was injured, don’t hesitate to call 911. Your priority should be to stay safe and to get medical help for those who need it. If you possibly can, make a note of the other car’s make, model, and license plate. You should also report your crash.
Police aren’t required to attend the scene unless someone has been injured, but if they do decide to investigate, their images and witness accounts could be a valuable resource for your insurance company and your auto accident lawyer. If they cannot attend, you can file your own accident report online or at your local police station.
If police aren’t at the scene to get the other driver’s details, speak to the driver and obtain their information and preferably that of their insurer. Ask the driver if they own the vehicle, and if not, get the name of the owner. Don’t be drawn into a discussion about who was or wasn’t at fault! If it’s safe to do so, speak to any witnesses that might have seen what happened and get their phone number or an address. Take photographs of the scene, the position of the cars, and your injuries. If you are unable to take the photographs, ask someone else to do this for you.
If the other party is cooperative at the scene, you might feel like some of the initial stress has been taken off your shoulders. However, you should still get in touch with an attorney as soon as is practical, to help you access compensation.
Even if your injuries appear to be only minor, it’s also a good idea to see a doctor for a check-up and to get a record of any harm the crash might have caused. In the weeks after the crash, remember to note any physical or psychological problems you develop.
When you are the driver or the passenger – and the other party is at fault
If the other driver is insured, you should speak to your attorney before filing a claim with the driver’s insurer. You should also let your own insurance company know what has happened. Your car accident attorney will handle the process for you and negotiate a settlement or prepare your case for trial, as you focus on recovering. If you feel the insurance claims adjuster’s apportioning of blame is unfair, your attorney may be able to appeal this on your behalf. In some cases, your case may go to court to determine your entitlement to compensation.
If you have collision coverage or medical coverage, you may be able to get some money from your own insurer for damage caused to your car or for injuries.
We strongly advise you to purchase uninsured/underinsured driver coverage with your insurance policy to cover you if you end up in a crash with a driver who doesn’t have adequate insurance. Unfortunately, the process of getting a payout from your insurance company in these circumstances can be difficult. If you go it alone, your insurer might persuade you to accept less than you are entitled to, so legal advice is still recommended to guide you through. If you don’t have this type of coverage, your car accident attorney can take a personal injury case against the uninsured driver for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, psychological harm, and loss of earnings. Your case will be subject to Ohio’s two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases.
When you may have caused the car accident
Even if you strongly suspect your driving caused the crash, you should never admit fault straight away. You don’t know what was happening in the other car to have caused the crash. After assisting the people in the other car, if they need it, and contacting emergency services, give the other driver your details. It’s a good idea to speak to your attorney before you contact your insurer and provide them with your version of events. If police arrive at the scene, give them your name, contact details and driver’s license number. If you do not have insurance, it’s suggested you seek legal advice as soon as you can.
If you or the other driver face criminal charges
If the other party is facing charges arising from the incident and you are the victim, the police will talk you through what you need to do and take a full statement from you. It’s still a good idea to speak to a legal adviser with expertise in car accidents for advice on compensation.
Accidents are often traumatic and frightening, and if you are facing criminal charges, you will likely feel even more shaken up. Remember that you have a right to have a lawyer present before giving a statement or answering any questions. Rather than a personal injury attorney, if you are in this situation, you will need to engage a criminal attorney with experience in driving cases to represent you.
Recovering from an accident
It’s normal to feel upset about what happened and nervous about getting back on the road. The effects of a car crash can be emotional and psychological, as well as physical. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it and remember that there are people out there to help you get back on your feet, and behind the wheel.
If you have been in a car accident get in touch with The Moore Law Firm as soon as possible. Our firm has assisted individuals and families throughout Cincinnati and the surrounding areas for 30 years. We can schedule a free consultation with you and discuss our contingency fee options.