Most people are involved in very few auto accidents throughout their lives. While this is a good thing, it can also make it difficult for someone involved in a car accident to know what to do after the fact.
Generally speaking, you should always call the police immediately following an accident, unless there is no damage to the vehicle or the damage is very minor. You may, however, have decided not to call the police after a more serious accident. Some of the most common reasons victims fail to report the accident include believing that they were not injured, accepting the other driver’s offer to cover the damages, or simply agreeing not to call 911.
Regardless of the reason, not reporting an accident is a mistake. It is important to understand the role accident reports play in car accident cases and the ramifications of not calling the police.
Below, we take a close look at this matter, including how long you have to file a claim, who you should call to report an accident, when accident reports are required, and how to report an accident after the fact.
The laws around car accidents can be complicated, which is why we recommend reaching out to an experienced Ohio car accident lawyer for guidance on what to do next. Contact Colombo Law today for a free case review.
How Long After an Accident Do You Have to File a Claim?
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for accidents that result in bodily injury and/or damage to personal property is two years from the date of the accident. This means that if you attempt to bring a claim against another driver after two years, your case will likely be dismissed.
Do You Have to Report an Accident to the Police?
Technically, if the accident is very minor and results in little to no damage and no injuries, you do not need to call the police. However, the legal definition for “minor” in Ohio is just $400 in damage, which can be difficult to assess immediately after an accident.
In addition to the benefits of creating a paper trail of the accident, it is important to consider the legal consequences if you do not notify the police when it is required. Under Ohio law, failure to report an accident is a minor misdemeanor.
Who to Call to Report an Accident
After calling the police, you should also call your insurance company. This is an important step for a few reasons.
First, your insurance policy likely requires you to do so. If you fail to notify your insurance company that you were involved in an accident, you may be denied coverage.
Second, your insurance coverage will allow you quicker access to funds to pay for repairs, medical bills, and other costs. Waiting for a claim with the other driver’s insurance company to resolve can take longer.
Finally, if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you may need your uninsured motorist coverage to pay for your damages. Hence, while you do not need to submit a claim to your insurance company right away, you should always notify your insurer of the accident as soon as possible.
When Are Accident Reports Required?
If there is no injury or fatality, the police are not required to come to the accident scene. Furthermore, the police are only required to forward a report to the director of public safety when there is a death, injury, or more than $1,000 in property damage.
That said, all parties involved in an accident are still required to stop their vehicles and exchange information. This includes names, addresses, and vehicle registration numbers. You should also obtain the other driver’s insurance carrier and policy number. Also ask if the driver is the owner of the vehicle. If not, get the owner’s information as well.
Can I File an Accident Report After the Fact?
Yes, you can, though cities handle this differently. If you live in Columbus, you can find the accident reporting information here.
There is, however, a different set of rules that apply when you are in an accident with an uninsured driver. If this happens, you must submit a crash report to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles within six months of the accident occurring.
Contact an Ohio Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you are feeling uncertain of what you should do after being involved in a car accident, the best course of action is to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Building a strong case against the negligent driver can be a difficult process to navigate, requiring a full investigation, gathering of evidence, negotiating with aggressive insurance adjusters, and much more.
At Colombo Law, our goal is to allow our clients to focus on getting better while we do the heavy lifting on the legal side. We are passionate about defending injured Ohio accident victims’ rights. Our No Fee Promise enables clients to rest easy knowing they will not have to pay attorney fees unless and until we recover compensation on their behalf.
For a FREE case review, please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today. Our car accident attorneys serve clients in Columbus and throughout Ohio.