After a car accident, you may have a lot of thoughts running through your head. “Am I hurt?” “Is my car ok?” “How am I going to pay for all this?”

It can be a lot to think about. But after a car accident, and especially if you were injured, your focus needs to be on getting better. The good news is, if you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, an experienced Heath, Ohio car accident lawyer may be able to help you get compensation for your damages from the at-fault party.

What is a Car Accident Lawyer?

A car accident lawyer is someone who specializes in all aspects of helping the victims of the personal injuries and property damage that can occur during a car accident. They go through years of education in order to learn about the law and legal system. Not only does this give them the experience they need to help you seek compensation for your injuries, it gives them experience in treating their clients with the respect and compassion they deserve.

What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident

After a car accident, the most important thing to remember is: what you say can hurt your case. You may be afraid or angry at the at-fault driver, but yelling and making accusations about who caused the accident or how it happened can reflect poorly on your case. Instead, after a car accident it’s best to focus on doing the things that could help your case, like:

  • Calling 9-1-1
  • Checking yourself and others for injuries
  • Moving vehicles and large debris off the road, if possible
  • Taking notes on where you were when the accident happened
  • Exchanging insurance information, names, and phone numbers with anyone else involved
  • Taking photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damages, and injuries
  • Calling your insurance provider to let them know you were in an accident
  • Getting in touch with a Heath, OH car accident attorney

If you take these steps, not only will you have done everything necessary in the moments after an accident, you’ll have avoided potential conflict with the other driver(s).

Car Accident Statistics for Ohio

Each year, the Ohio Department of Public Safety publishes a Crash Facts booklet that provides information about car accidents that year. Check out these facts from the 2016 Ohio Crash Facts documents:

  • 305,964 accidents occurred in Ohio in 2016
  • They caused a total of 112,331 injuries and 1,133 deaths, which averages out to 306.9 injuries and 3.1 deaths per day
  • 66.4 percent of the accidents in 2016 happened during daylight hours
  • Of all the injuries that year, 8,866 were children younger than 14
  • 11,958 of 2016’s accidents were caused by drunk driving
  • The driver’s failure to control their vehicle caused 18.3 percent of all accidents that year

Heath, Ohio Car Accident Facts

Residents of Heath, Ohio might the following statistics from 2016 interesting:

  • Last year in Heath, OH, there were a total of 294 accidents
  • These resulted in 117 injuries but only 1 death
  • In total, 565 vehicles were involved
  • 8 of these crashes were caused by drinking and driving

Minimum Car insurance Requirements in Ohio

Ohioans who want to drive are required to purchase a certain amount of insurance coverage. The minimum amounts required are as follows:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage for each person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage for each accident involving more than one injured person
  • $25,000 property damage coverage

Who Pays for Expenses After a Car Accident

Since Ohio is an at-fault state, the person who causes the accident automatically becomes responsible for expenses resulting from that accident. For example, if you were rear-ended by another driver while you were sitting at a stop light, they and their insurance company would have to pay for your damages.

If your damages exceed the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance policy, you can seek further reimbursement from your own underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). If you do not have UIM coverage, you can try to seek compensation from the individual or at-fault party themselves. Though it is possible to be compensated this way, it is difficult to do, especially without the help of a Heath, OH car accident attorney.

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How Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works in Ohio

Ohio does not require residents to purchase underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) or uninsured motorist coverage (UM). That said, it’s a good idea to consider buying one or both of these policies in the event you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Here’s how these policies work:

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) pays for your expenses if you are injured or your vehicle is damaged by a driver who doesn’t carry any insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage is more complicated. This kind of insurance protects you if you are hurt or have your vehicle damaged by a driver who has insurance, but not enough to cover your total expenses. For example:

You’re driving around Heath, OH and you get into a car accident that costs you $100,000. Unfortunately, the at fault party has liability insurance that can only cover $50,000 in damages. If you had UIM insurance in this scenario, you would receive the full $50,000 from the at-fault party’s insurance company and your UIM provider would cover the remaining $50,000.

Risks Associated with UIM Coverage

Unfortunately, when it comes time to use your UIM coverage, you may find that there are some hoops you have to jump through.

First, you won’t be able to use your policy unless the at-fault party’s policy limits have been reached.

And second, you have to tell your UIM provider that you’d like to settle with the at-fault party’s insurance company before you start the process of doing so.

You should always talk to a lawyer before starting the settlement process because handling it incorrectly could result in you losing your UIM coverage entirely. Once you have taken the necessary steps, your UIM policy provider will either:

  1. Waive subrogation and let you settle; OR
  2. Decline subrogation and send you a check for the amount of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage themselves.

It may be complicated, but it is crucial you follow these steps to avoid losing your UIM coverage and getting the best settlement you can.

Should I Buy Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Yes. It may add a little bit more to your monthly bills, but it will be worth it if  you’re in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. UM and UIM will cover your expenses, while the uninsured or underinsured driver could be faced with:

  • 90 days (first offense) to 1 year (repeat offence) of driver’s license suspension
  • Having their vehicle impounded and/or license plates seized
  • $75 (first offence) to $500 (repeat offence) of reinstatement fees
  • Being required to obtain and show proof of adequate car insurance

Even though the irresponsible driver who caused your accident will be severely punished, it can be hard to force them to pay for your damages. Having UM or UIM coverage can give you peace of mind and financial protection in the event of an underinsured or uninsured motorist accident.

What Kind of Damages Can I Be Compensated For?

You may be faced with a number of expenses on top of any physical injuries you occur. As the victim of a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be compensated for:

  • Physical injuries
  • Medical bills/equipment
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Missed activities
  • Inconvenience
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Property damage
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship
  • Wrongful death

Should I Hire a Heath, Ohio Car Accident Attorney or Not?

You should. The statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury is only two years, and you could waste much of that time by trying to handle your case yourself.

Reaching a successful settlement or verdict without a lawyer can be tough. You’ll be responsible for all aspects of the legal process, from filing the necessary paperwork to gathering evidence. This is a time consuming process that is best handled by a professional car accident lawyer who has experience with:

  • Gathering police reports
  • Collecting medical records and bills
  • Obtaining items like CCTV footage and phone call recordings
  • Talking to insurance adjustors
  • Gathering witnesses
  • Obtaining expert witness to testify in your favor
  • Checking for automobile defects or recalls that may have caused your accident

Contact the Heath, Ohio Car Accident Lawyers at Colombo Law

The attorneys at Colombo Law have decades of combined experienced helping the victims of personal injury and property damage after car accidents. We have helped clients throughout the Greater Heath, OH area in neighborhoods like:

  • Blackhand Gorge
  • Willow Ridge
  • Forest Hills
  • Fox Run
  • Ramp Creek
  • Franklin Township
  • River Oaks
  • Fleatown
  • Interstate 70
  • Interstate 270
  • Ohio Route 161
  • Ohio Route 16
  • Ohio Route 37
  • U.S. Route 40
  • U.S. Route 33
  • U.S. Route 22
  • U.S. Route 23

Contact us today to find out if you have a case and how we can help. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay us unless we reach a successful settlement in your case.

You have nothing to lose by talking to one of our Heath, OH car accident lawyers and learning what your options are. Call us to schedule your appointment at 614-362-7000.