You’re sitting in your vehicle in a parking lot in Columbus, Ohio. Another vehicle enters the lot and tries to park in the space next to you. The driver miscalculates the angle and scrapes the side of your car. He pauses a moment, then quickly reverses and peels out of the lot.
You sit there, in total shock.
What happens now? Is the driver in trouble for leaving? What if he didn’t realize he damaged your car? Can you recover damages or are you out of luck?
Being involved in a hit-and-run accident in Ohio can be confusing and frustrating. Fortunately, this article will clear things up and hopefully reduce your level of frustration.
When you take the entire country into account, 4.6 out of every 10,000 motorists have had at least 1 hit-and-run violation.
Unfortunately, Ohio sits above the national average. In Ohio, 7 out of every 10,000 motorists have had at least 1 hit-and-run violation.
|Ohio hit-and-run statistics (2017)|
|Source: Ohio Department of Public Safety|
Chapter 4549 of Ohio’s Vehicle Code requires every driver involved in an accident that results in damage to do 3 things:
If the vehicle hit was unoccupied, Ohio law requires the driver to attach a note with their information (name and address, registration number, and driver’s license number) to the unoccupied vehicle.
Additionally, if the accident occurred somewhere other than on a public road or highway (for example, a private road, parking lot, or driveway), the driver must contact the local police department and provide their contact information, along with a description of the damage.
Fleeing the scene of an accident might seem like a good idea at the time (especially if you don’t have insurance), but it’s always a bad idea. The penalties for fleeing the scene are severe, particularly if you were aware that the accident caused an injury or death.
|Ohio hit-and-run penalties|
|Type||Charge||Jail||Maximum fine||License suspension|
|No injury||1st-degree misdemeanor||0-6 months||$1,000||6-month minimum|
|Serious injury||5th-degree felony||6-12 months||$2,500||6-month minimum|
|Known serious injury||4th-degree felony||6-18 months||$5,000||6-month minimum|
|Death||3rd-degree felony||12-60 months||$10,000||6-month minimum|
|Known death||2nd-degree felony||2-8 years||$15,000||6-month minimum|
In addition to the penalties listed above, your auto insurance rates are likely to go up. In some cases, you may even be dropped from your insurance altogether.
Your first instinct following a hit-and-run accident might be to chase after the fleeing driver. However, chasing after a fleeing driver is the last thing you should do. A driver who flees the scene of an accident may do so because they’re intoxicated, the car is stolen, or there is a warrant out for their arrest.
The bottom line:
Fleeing drivers don’t want to be caught and chasing after them puts you (and others) on the road at risk.
In fact, chasing after fleeing drivers is so dangerous that Ohio police are restricted from doing so in certain situations.
“It is a very, very, scary thing,” said Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight of the Columbus Division of Police, when asked about pursuing a fleeing driver.
Instead, take the following steps after a hit-and-run accident:
While fleeing the scene of an accident is wrong and illegal, it’s a common impulse. You may fear that the other driver will retaliate if you stop. Or, you may have tried to move your vehicle to a safe spot and lost track of the other vehicle in the process.
Whatever the reason, fleeing the scene of an accident is serious.
If you’ve made this mistake, we recommend you contact an Ohio criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to talk about how to make things right while still protecting your legal rights.
If the fleeing driver is ultimately found, you can file a claim with their insurance provider or file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
However, if you can’t locate the driver, your insurance policy might provide compensation depending on whether you purchased certain optional coverage. Examples of optional coverage in Ohio that might cover hit-and-run damages include:
A skilled personal injury attorney can help you investigate a hit-and-run accident and make sure you receive the damages you deserve. Use our free online directory to find an experienced Ohio attorney in your area.