Involving the police after an accident is usually straightforward. The accident happens, you call 911, and a police officer arrives at the scene. The officer will prepare and file a report on the accident.
However, there are a couple of scenarios where accident victims may need to report a car accident themselves. The first is if the police did not show up to the scene of the accident or law enforcement was not called. The other reason you may need to file a report on your own is if the other driver was uninsured.
Whether you speak to the police at the scene or file a report after the fact, reporting the accident can be intimidating. It is in your best interest to speak to a car accident lawyer at Colombo Law as soon as possible to protect your rights and ensure that you take all necessary steps.
How Do I Report the Accident?
If the police were not called or did not show up to the scene of the accident, you should file an accident report directly with the police department that has jurisdiction over where the accident occurred. Different police departments may have different instructions for reporting an accident.
For example, the Columbus Division of Police allows motorists to submit accident reports via email or by snail mail. If you are unsure if the accident happened within the city limits of Columbus, you can call the non-emergency number for assistance.
The procedure for reporting an accident is different if the crash involved an uninsured driver. You will need to complete and submit a BMV 3303 Crash Report to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
What Information Do I Need to Report the Accident?
For a general crash report, you will need to gather several details to complete the form. These include:
- Where the accident happened
- How many vehicles and pedestrians were involved
- The nearest intersection
- The date and time of the crash
- The vehicle and property loss amount (either over or under $150)
- The location and severity of the damage to all vehicles involved
- Weather and road conditions
You will also need information about the other driver(s) involved, including:
- The full names of all drivers involved
- Their home addresses
- The phone numbers for all drivers
- The driver license number for each of the motorists involved
- The license plate number for every vehicle involved
Meanwhile, the most important information in an accident with an uninsured driver is being able to identify the other motorist. Form BMV 3303 requires you to include at three different identifiers that match the bureau’s records:
- The name of the uninsured driver
- His or her address
- The uninsured driver’s date of birth
- The Ohio driver license number for the uninsured motorist
- The uninsured driver’s Social Security number
These identifiers are necessary because they take the place of the information usually used to identify drivers after an accident – the name, contact information, and policy number on the driver’s proof of auto insurance card.
What Is the Time Limit to Report a Car Accident?
In Ohio, there is no explicit time limit for reporting a car accident to the police. However, accidents involving injury requiring medical attention, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage do need to be reported to the police. Failure to do so is a minor misdemeanor, so it is in your best interest to file a report as soon as possible.
If you are reporting an accident with an uninsured driver, you have six months from the date of the crash to get the report to the BMV. Note that these six months end when the BMV receives the report, not when you send it.
How Do I Get a Copy of the Accident Report?
If you file a crash report or a report is filed by the police, you can find a record on the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) website. The report may not be available online right away, as it can take up to 6 weeks for a crash to be listed on the ODPS website database.
If you need the information sooner, you can contact the agency that investigated the accident – most likely the local police department serving the area where the accident took place. Contacting the investigating agency may also be preferable because the documentation is official, whereas records retrieved from the ODPS website are not.
Knowing the right course of action after a car accident can be overwhelming and frustrating. Beyond properly reporting the accident, you may also be unsure of your rights if the accident was caused by the fault or negligence of another. You may deserve compensation for your losses, including medical bills, property damage, and more, though you are likely to face opposition from the other driver’s insurance company. The challenges are amplified if the at-fault driver is uninsured.
At Colombo Law, we are here to help all Ohio accident victims understand their rights and recover the compensation they need and deserve for the damages caused by the negligence of others. We have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, and we can put our experience to work for you.
If you have questions about your legal situation, please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Columbus and throughout Ohio.