Ohio leads the pack with more speeding infractions than any other state. In fact, 16.12% of all Ohio drivers have received a speeding ticket (35% over the national average). If anyone needs to know what Ohio car accident laws entail, it’s residents of the Buckeye State.
Ohio also clocks in at 3rd place for the state with the most car accidents, with 1,043 traffic fatalities in 2022. Even if you’re insured, you need an auto attorney by your side so you know your legal options.
Every state has separate laws on negligence and insurance, and Ohio car accident laws are no exception. Keep reading to learn what to do, who to contact, and how to get legal help when you need it.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Ohio
Ohio car accident laws require any drivers in an accident to stop at the scene (Ohio Revised Code §4549). Not only will this avoid a hit-and-run charge, but it’s also important for safety—which should be of paramount importance.
Render aid by ensuring all parties avoid further harm by moving your car away from traffic if possible. Check for injuries and call 911 immediately if anyone requires medical attention.
You must also exchange the following information with any other drivers, injured parties, or police at the scene (ORC §4549.02):
- Driver’s name and address
- Car owner’s name and address (if different than the driver)
- Vehicle registration number
If the collision is with a parked vehicle, the driver must leave the above information conspicuously on that car. Same rule applies if there’s property damage and the owner is not present. Failure to exchange information can result in a misdemeanor or, depending on crash severity, felony charges.
In addition, any Ohio driver involved in an auto accident should take it upon themselves to gather:
- Make, model, color, and license plate number of all vehicles
- Insurance information for any other drivers
- Contact information for any witnesses at the scene
- Photos of the scene, damage, and any other pertinent details
Though these additional details aren’t a legal requirement in Ohio, it may prove important later on. This is especially true if there is a court case to determine fault and potential compensatory damages.
How to Report a Car Accident in Ohio
It’s your duty to notify the police if another driver sustains injuries that render them incapable of recording your information. Under ORC § 5502.11, you’re required to report a car accident within five days if:
- Someone was injured or died
- There was property damage over $1,000
Even if the accident was minor, you’re still encouraged to call the police. Some cities in Ohio like Cincinnati or Columbus may have separate local reporting laws. The location of the accident influences what type of report you should fill out.
An on-the-scene investigation by law enforcement may provide important pieces of the “what happened” puzzle. Their accident records may also prove vital in future fault determination discussions.
Is Ohio a No-Fault State?
Ohio is an at-fault state, meaning the driver who’s deemed responsible for the accident will be the one who pays for the resulting damages. Still, there are several ways to make a claim after a car accident in Ohio:
- By filing a claim on their own insurance policy to cover damages
- By filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier
- By filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver
While you can proceed with the first two options without a lawyer, consider a consultation before accepting an offer. That’s because insurance companies will try to lowball you at the outset of the negotiation process. A skilled auto accident attorney can help you determine a fair settlement amount.
Your options may be limited if you end up the at-fault driver, but you can still recover damages due to Ohio’s comparative negligence laws.
Ohio Comparative Negligence Laws
When it comes to determining fault, Ohio isn’t all-or-nothing. That’s because it functions under a comparative negligence system. All parties involved in an Ohio car accident will receive a “percentage of fault” designation. In other words, you can share partial blame for an accident while still qualifying for compensation.
Keep in mind that your percentage of fault is subjective, based on the decision of a judge or jury. To get the highest damages payout possible, you want your percentage of fault to be as small as possible. This is another reason to have a good attorney in your corner.
What if You’re Partially At-Fault for the Accident?
Under this comparative negligence policy, any driver deemed more than 50% responsible for a collision is ineligible for ANY compensation. Like, zero dollars! Even from their own insurance.
However, drivers who are less “at-fault” may sue the other driver for damages. The caveat is that any settlement awards will be decreased according to a driver’s percentage of fault for the crash.
Imagine there is a two-car crash with $100,000 in damages each. One driver is 51% at-fault, and as a result will not receive any compensation. However, the driver who is 49% at-fault with a $100,000 settlement will receive a payout, but only of $51,000. That is the settlement amount minus their “at-fault” percentage.
Ohio Car Insurance Laws
Ohio car accident laws require that in order to drive a motor vehicle, you must show proof of financial responsibility. Every driver must have car insurance coverage according to ORC § 4509.101. You must carry proof in your car at all times or risk license suspension, fines, and/or vehicle impoundment.
There are several ways to meet this requirement as set out by Ohio Administrative Code §4501:1-2-01. An individual may:
- Purchase a bond
- Post collateral
- Buy liability insurance
For most people, the easiest option is just simply to purchase car insurance. According to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), the minimum amount of coverage a policy must include is 25/50/25:
- $25,000 for bodily injury/death for one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury/death for two or more people
- $25,000 for accident property damages
These numbers are the minimal requirements, but drivers may wish to purchase higher coverage amounts. Especially knowing what car repairs cost in this day and age.
Additional Coverage Options
Remember that the minimums above are only for liability and don’t include the repair of your own vehicle. As such, you’ll need different coverage if you’re in an accident and no one’s policy covers your losses.
Drivers in Ohio may wish to add the following to their insurance policies just to be safe:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP)/MedPay. This type of insurance helps cover any medical bills or lost work wages from an accident.
- Collision Coverage. This coverage can pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle after a car accident.
- Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This helps protect you if the other driver is at the wheel without insurance under ORC § 3937.18.
But remember, it’s possible no additional amount of insurance will help you if you’re more than 50% at-fault. That’s because most insurers will also include fault determinations in their claims adjustments.
Ohio Statute of Limitations
In wrongful death cases, that two-year timeframe also holds. However, the countdown clock begins on the date of the victim’s passing.
While two years may sound like a long time, it’s important to keep an eye on these statutes. That’s because if you miss the deadline, you will not have another chance to file. And no matter how strong your case, you’ll lose the opportunity to get any compensation to help defray your losses.
It’s always better to file sooner than later so the details and evidence from the crash stay fresh.
Available Damages in Ohio After a Car Crash
These damages are quantifiable, meaning any awards are meant to make up for tangible losses resulting from the accident.
Common examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Car repairs and maintenance costs
- Damaged property
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation expenses
These are the unquantifiable losses that often come along with the trauma of a crash. They can be harder to prove because they usually don’t include receipts. But they are just as damaging as physical injuries, if not more so.
Non-economic damages often include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminishment of reputation
- Loss of companionship
- Reduction of enjoyment of life
Ohio Damage Caps
Ohio is one of many states that actually puts limitations on the amount you may receive in damages.
There are no financial thresholds for economic damages a plaintiff may seek in Ohio car accident laws.
However, there are caps in place for non-economic damages. A personal injury victim may receive up to $250,000 or three times the economic damages amount—whichever amount is greater. However, non-economic damages cannot exceed $350,000 if there’s one plaintiff, or $500,000 if there are two or more victims.
LegalASAP Will Connect You With an Experienced Auto Attorney
While Ohio drivers may like to move fast, most claims surrounding accidents take time, energy and attention to detail. Especially since any settlement you ultimately receive depends on the assessment of percentages of fault.
Your best bet after any collision in a comparative negligence state is to consult with an attorney, free of charge.
Let LegalASAP connect you with an auto accident lawyer in your area today. Because getting the compensation you deserve isn’t likely to happen by accident.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann