Last updated on August 4th, 2023
Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in Ohio. Learn your legal rights, including whether you have a claim for damages in a hit-and-run.
When you’re traveling down one of Ohio’s most dangerous roads — or even one of the safer ones — the last thing you expect is to get into a car accident with someone who doesn’t stop. Or, your car is parked overnight in front of your house, and you wake up to damage from a hit-and-run.
Hit-and-run accidents can be more than just inconvenient — they can be deadly. And they can happen to anyone. In the U.S., 18% of pedestrians killed in 2014 were struck in crashes involving hit-and-run drivers. Here at home in Ohio, a 70-year-old bicyclist in New Russia Township was killed in 2015 by a hit-and-run driver. Earlier this year, a City of Toledo fleet driver resigned after he crashed a city-owned Jeep and left the scene of an accident — twice.
So, what do you do when a hit-and-run occurs? In this post, we’ll discuss how hit-and-run reporting works in Ohio, when you should file a police report, the penalties for hit-and-run accidents, and why you might want to consider a personal injury lawsuit.
Review the latest statistics on pedestrian fatality, here.
First, let’s talk about what is considered a hit-and-run accident. This is when any driver intentionally leaves the scene of an accident without providing any contact information.
What will help the police help you is if you do the following immediately after being involved in or discovering damage from a hit-and-run accident:
It’s important to keep in mind that some people do try to defraud the insurance system by filing false claims, so you’ll want to have as much evidence as possible on you before reporting the incident to the police.
If you are the person who caused the hit and run and you cannot locate the owner of the damaged property after a reasonable search, you have 24 hours after the accident to tell the police and give a full description of the time, location, and extent of the damage.
If you are someone who was injured or whose property was damaged in a hit-and-run, you’ll want to report the incident to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible, but there may be time limits for when to file a compensation claim. If you are injured during a hit-and-run accident, for example, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the incident in Ohio.
Do not attempt to chase someone who has hit your car, even though it’s important for you to get as much information as possible on a hit-and-run driver. Calling the police soon after instead of risking your safety and possibly getting into another accident is a better idea.
If the police are unable to locate the driver, having a police report on file will still make your claims process that much easier.
So long as you had knowledge of the accident or collision, it is illegal to leave the scene without giving your name and contact information of both the vehicle operator and the owner of the vehicle, if different from the operator to any person injured in the accident, to the operator and occupants of any motor vehicle damaged, and to the police officers at the scene. If an injured person is unable to comprehend this information, the other operator involved must stay at the scene until a police officer arrives unless they are removed by an emergency vehicle or ambulance. For vehicles unattended and damaged, operators must attach their information in writing on the vehicle.
If you break the law in Ohio and leave the scene of an accident on a public road or highway, it’s called a “hit skip.” Penalties for this misdemeanor of the first degree include up to six months in jail, $500 in fines, and a minimum 6-month suspension of your driver’s license.
However, the penalties can be even greater, depending on how severe the accident is. For drivers who leave the scene of an accident in Ohio and know that there was some serious injury involved, the charge increases to a felony of the fourth degree. If he or she knew someone died, it’s upgraded to a felony of the second degree.
In some cases, drivers leave the scene of the accident because they are worried about racking up any other number of offenses. They may be driving on a suspended or revoked license, or not be carrying insurance or adequate insurance. They could also be driving drunk, or distracted. But leaving the scene of an accident is not worth the possible add-on criminal offenses or traffic violations in serious cases, including vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular assault.
Sometimes, a crash can be so minor, you don’t even notice it. You slid on ice in the winter in Ohio and lightly bumped a parked car, for example. Or maybe you hit a curb and didn’t realize you caused damage to someone’s mailbox.
It’s important to remember that hit-skip convictions cannot happen unless the driver knowingly leaves the scene of an accident or collision. But how can those still hurt get help?
If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your car insurance plan, it may cover much of the property damage or medical costs involved. However, Ohio is one of just a handful of states where uninsured motorist property damage coverage does not cover damages from a hit and run (and it is not required to be carried). Instead, you will use personal injury protection, medical payments coverage, and collision coverage to cover injuries and car damage in an Ohio hit-and-run accident. Make sure you speak with your insurance company about being “not at fault” to decrease any chances of your insurance rates increasing.
While hit-and-run accidents can seem hopeless, particularly if the driver can’t be found, enlisting the help of an experienced attorney can make a difference. Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with and aren’t exactly known for being quick to issue payments without a fight.
Whether you’re seeking the appropriate value for damages, or pursuing a claim for an injury incurred during a hit-and-run accident, we’re here to help. Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz have been fighting for car accident victims for over 31 years, and our track record speaks for itself.
Get in touch today to set up a consultation with an Ohio hit-and-run lawyer. Our initial consultations are entirely free of charge, and you’re under no obligation to continue working with us afterward if you don’t want to. In the event that you have a case on your hands, you won’t pay a cent unless we win.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, please fill out the form below for your free consultation or call us at 1.937.222.2222
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