hood of damaged car in rear-end accident

An Attorney Can Help Navigate the Aftermath of a Car Accident

Did you know Ohio has the highest proportion of drivers with speeding violations in the United States? Worse, Ohio’s accident rate is 18 percent higher than the national average. If you drive with regularity in the Buckeye State, there is a reasonable chance you could be the victim of a careless driver. 

If you do experience a crash, one of your first thoughts will probably be something like, “How much will it cost to fix my car?” or “Do I need to call the police or go to the hospital?” 

Adrenaline and stress run high after a crash, so you may not think clearly or recognize the extent of an injury right away. Even if you do not believe you are seriously hurt, it can take some time for pain to develop and to realize the full extent of your injuries. Your first step should always be to seek appropriate medical care.  

Ohio is an at-fault state. This means whoever is responsible for causing the accident is required to pay for your losses and damages.  However, no payments will come from the at-fault driver’s insurance company (assuming he or she had insurance) until you have agreed to the final value of your bodily injury case. This means you may have to wait to be compensated for medical bills, lost wages and any pain and suffering.  This waiting period alone can cause a great deal of financial and emotional stress. An attorney is often necessary to help an injured party navigate this uncertain period. The attorney can also help the injured party receive the full value of his or her claim.  

It is especially important to contact a lawyer if there is a question about who was at fault for a crash. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault for a crash in Ohio, you cannot recover anything. With this in mind, insurance companies will often attempt to pressure a person into admitting some fault for an accident or settling his or her claim without full knowledge of how the system works. Never accept a settlement offer before consulting with a lawyer. A lawyer’s experience and knowledge can help ensure you are treated fairly, especially if the crash is not your fault.  

You also should not delay consulting with an attorney after a car crash because of the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations determines the period of time individuals have to file a legal claim in court.  If the statute of limitations time period elapses, you will be unable to recover the damages you were entitled to receive. Generally speaking, Ohio’s statute of limitations is two years from the date of the crash for both personal injury and property damages, but you should consult a lawyer about potential exceptions to this rule. 

Additional Matters to Consider at the Crash Scene

Assuming you are physically able, there are matters you will want to consider at the crash scene.

  1. Do contact the police.    
  2. Do take photos of the vehicles and the damage sustained. It may be surprising, but the responding police officers do not always take scene photos.
  3. Do Exchange information with the other driver and any potential witnesses. The witness information can be especially important if it is not obtained by the responding police officers. 
  4. Avoid stating you are not injured. If you claim no injury, this comment will often end up in the police report and can hurt your claim later on. Again, adrenaline can prevent you from recognizing potential injury at the crash scene.

Remember that obtaining necessary evidence can be critically important to your case. You should request a copy of the police report and check it for accuracy. If there is a mistake on the report, you will want to inform the investigating agency of the mistake and ask/demand that it be corrected. An attorney can assist you with this process.

If you do feel like you may be injured in any way, you will want to seek medical attention. In addition to making sure your injuries are correctly diagnosed and treated, going to the hospital provides evidence of your injury and when and how it occurred. This information will make it much more difficult for any insurance company to claim you are trying to collect damages for an unrelated injury.  

For almost ninety years, Murray &  Murray has been successfully fighting for car crash victims in Sandusky, Ohio and surrounding areas. We have the personal injury experience needed to help you obtain fair compensation for your financial and personal injuries. If you have been the victim of a car crash, please feel free to contact me at jlm@murrayandmurray.com or call 419-664-3711. We are here to help.