Car Accidents in Ohio – What You Need to Know About Liability
Auto collisions are scary. And the issues with local laws and insurance which follow, can be equally frightening. Each state handles car accidents and liability in a slightly different way, so it’s important for every driver to know his or her rights and responsibilities.
Review the laws about liability and insurance coverage as they relate to accidents in Ohio.
At-Fault Liability in Ohio
Ohio has an at-fault – also known as tort insurance – system. Remember, this applies to the location of the collision, not residency of the driver or registration of the car. For example, a car can be registered and insured in no fault states, like Michigan, or choice no-fault states such as Kentucky or Pennsylvania. If it is involved in an accident in Ohio, however, the local at-fault system determines who is responsible for damages.
In Ohio, the driver identified as the one who caused an accident is liable. That means the at-fault driver is held responsible for any damages caused. This includes damages to property and other vehicles. It also includes injuries affecting other passengers and drivers, as well as the lost wages, medical bills incurred, and related physical and psychological pain. The driver, and his or her insurance, must pay for all of these damage-related expenses.
Drivers registered in the state of Ohio are required by law to be insured. The minimum liability car insurance required in Ohio is:
- $25,000 to cover the injuries or death of others involved in the collision;
- $50,000 total for injuries or death caused a single accident;
- $25,000 for vehicle and property damages resulting from the crash.
How Liability is Determined in Ohio
The first step to establishing who is at fault in an accident is to file a police report. Calling the authorities to the scene of a crash essentially brings an authoritative third party to document the incident. The police report is a key factor in determining fault and liability.
First, the police report should include contact and insurance information for all drivers involved, plus the names and phone numbers of any witness present. Then, it will state the location, date and time of the accident and a rough diagram of the crash site. Next, there will be some information about the weather and road conditions influencing the incident, as well as the current condition of the cars and any resulting damage. Finally, the report will have statements taken from drivers, passengers and witnesses.
Major Reasons for Determining Liability
The officer will look for key factors which help identify which person is at fault in the collision. These include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
- Excessive speed or driving over the speed limit,
- Running a red light or ignoring a stop sign,
- Passing in a ‘no passing’ zone,
- Failure to use turn signals,
- Distracted driving,
- Careless driving.
How Ohio Laws Protect People Injured in an Accident
In the state of Ohio, anyone who was injured in an accident has the legal right to sue the driver at fault. Even if the victim was partially responsible for the collision, he or she can seek compensation for damages.
The comparative negligence law in Ohio is applied proportionately. This means that the driver at fault is only responsible for covering damages equal to the determined fault.
Here’s an example to help clarify. Imagine a case where another driver is injured and sues for damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, totaling $20,000.
- If the injured person is not at fault in the accident, the at-fault driver should be responsible for paying 100% of these expenses, meaning $20,000.
- If the injured person is determined to be 25% responsible for causing the accident, the at-fault driver should cover 75% of these expenses, meaning $15,000.
- If the in injured person is found to be more than 50% responsible for causing the crash, he or she cannot request compensation for expenses of any amount.
Injury Claims Must Be Filed Within a Limited Amount of Time
According to the Statute of Limitations in Ohio, people injured in an accident only have a limited timeframe in which they can make a claim. Claims for property damages or personal injury must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. This includes the time needed for medical evaluations, crash investigations, insurance negotiations, as well as preparing and submitting the necessary legal documentation.
Find more information about What to Do When You’re Involved in a Car Accident.
At Fault or Not – Make Sure You’re Protected
If you have been in a car accident, get informed about your rights. Whether you were the driver fully or partially at fault, or a victim, the laws in Ohio are designed to protect citizens as much as possible. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about how these local laws apply to your situation. Call Amourgis & Associates at (330) 535-6650 to schedule an initial meeting or contact us online.