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 accident victims fail to call 911 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 a serious accident is a mistake. It is important to understand the role accident reports play in car accident cases and the implications of not calling the police.
Below, we take a close look at this matter, including when it is required that an accident is reported, how long you have to file an accident report, and why you should never wait to begin the claims process if the other driver was at fault.
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.
When Must an Accident Be Reported?
Ohio residents are not required to report all car accidents. However, calling 911 is necessary when there is a fatality or personal injury. If there is no injury or fatality, the police are not required to come to the accident scene, and they 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.
Failing to stop after an accident is a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties become much more serious if you flee the scene of an accident that resulted in an injury or fatality.
How Long Do I Have to File a Police Report?
As discussed above, in the absence of injury or death, you are not required to call the police and they are not required to come to the accident scene. However, if there was an injury or fatality, you must report it immediately or you may face legal consequences.
There is an additional set of rules when it comes to reporting accidents with uninsured drivers. According to the DMV, if an injury occurs or there was at least $400 in property damage in an accident with an uninsured driver, you have six months to file a crash report.
Why You Should Not Wait to Report a Car Accident
Beyond the potential legal ramifications of waiting to report an accident, waiting may also harm your ability to recover compensation if the other driver was at fault. Although you do not need a police report to file a claim after the accident, the report can establish a number of key facts in support of your claim.
Not reporting an accident is similar to not seeking medical treatment after being injured in an accident. When you fail to do either of these things, the opposing insurance company may argue that the accident and/or your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that there is a time limit – known as the statute of limitations – within which you can file a car accident claim. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for auto accidents is two years from the date of the accident. After these two years lapse, you will generally not be able to pursue compensation for your damages.
Get Started on Your Car Accident Claim
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 personal injury attorney who frequently handles car accident cases. Building a strong case against a negligent party can be a difficult process to navigate, requiring a full investigation, the gathering of evidence, negotiating with aggressive insurance company attorneys, 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.