You're driving out of the Cincinnati International Airport in the worst rental car ever made. The company could only spring for a sub-compact? Seriously? You've been on a work trip for over a month and Cincinnati is the last stop before home. You were really hoping for a BMW M3 with 430-horsepower and a turbocharged inline-6 cylinder engine like you saw at the Detroit Auto Show. Ah well, can't have it all!
You look down for a brief moment trying to figure out how to adjust this tin can on wheels when a motorcycle slams right into your driver's side door. Thank goodness you purchased that overpriced rental car insurance. If this is your first time in a car accident in Cincinnati, you probably have many questions. Here's some information to help guide you through the process should you or someone you know be in a car accident in "the Nati."
Stay Where you Are
First of all, don't leave the scene of an accident. That's just common sense -- and Ohio law. Make sure everyone is safe. It doesn't matter if the accident involves a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone's property. Ohio law requires all drivers in a crash to stop and stay at the scene to exchange information or render reasonable assistance to the injured. If you leave, you could be charged with hit-and-run and face severe penalties such a suspended or revoked driver's license.
If you've hit with an unoccupied car, write down your name and address, along with your vehicle's license plate number. Leave it in a conspicuous place so the owner will see it when he or she returns.
Call the Police
CALL THE POLICE -- even if it's a minor accident. This is especially true if the other driver appears impaired by drugs or alcohol. Call the Cincinnati Police or 911 as soon as possible. A police officer will respond to your location and take a report. If the police take a report, you may not have to report the accident to Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Get Medical Attention
Get medical treatment right away (even if you don't think you are hurt). It's always a good idea to see your doctor after an accident of any kind. Sometimes, symptoms of serious injuries appear later. Having a record of receiving medical treatment will also be helpful if you make a legal claim later.
What information should I gather at the scene?
Be prepared to exchange information with the other driver -- your name, address and driver's license number; the registration number of the car you were driving; and the name your insurance company. You may wish to collect contact information for the other car's owner, any passengers in the other car, or any witnesses to the accident.
Consider making note of traffic and weather conditions. Draw a simple diagram of the collision scene and/or take photographs if you are able.
Remember your phone also has a handy camera. Use it! Document the crash with photographs. Get pictures of the cars and where they hit each other or other objects, physical injuries, skid marks and broken glass.
Car Insurance Minimums
Ohio drivers are required to carry certain minimum levels or car insurance or they'll be in trouble with the law. The amount of Bodily Injury Liability coverage is $25,000 per person injured in any one accident with a $50,000.00 maximum for all persons.
The minimum amount of Property Damage Coverage is $25,000.
As soon as you can, report the crash to your insurance company. Your carrier will open an investigation. Be honest with the adjuster, but remember you don't have to automatically accept their estimate or appraisal. Here's a list of do's and don'ts when speaking with insurance adjusters.
What Damages Are Available
If you have suffered harm from the accident, you can seek money damages for your loss. These damages may include lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage and more.
If you aren't sure what to do, a trained legal professional may be able to help. Many lawyers take auto accident cases on a contingency fee basis. Basically, you do not pay the lawyer his or her attorney fees if you lose the case. If you win, you pay the lawyer a percentage of the money you get. A settlement is considered a "win."
If you do decide to sue, you may wish to contact a Cincinnati personal injury attorney who can answer your specific questions and help you learn more about your circumstances and how a case would work.