Vehicle Accidents - Frequently Asked Questions
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I was involved in an accident in Cleveland, Ohio. What should I do next?
If you were involved in a car accident in Cleveland, Ohio, then there are some things that you will want to complete as soon as possible. First, make sure you file a police report if one was not filed at the scene. If this is a hit-skip accident, then you will need to speak to Cleveland Police Hit-Skip Department. The phone number listed on their website is 216-623-5085. Once you have determined the other driver's insurance coverage, you will need to call the insurance company and file a claim to get the process started. However, this can be very complicated and we recommend you speak to an attorney to discuss this process.
Read more about car accidents in Cleveland, Ohio
It was icy/snowing when the accident happened, can I still recover my damages?
If the roads were snowy or icy when your accident occurred, you still may be able to recover damages from the other driver. A reasonable driver will take into account the road conditions and adjust their driving accordingly. If the driver failed to take the necessary precautions, then they are negligent and can be held accountable for the consequences of their conduct.
I was hit by someone that doesn't have auto insurance. What should I do?
Even though it is illegal in the State of Ohio to drive without insurance, there are still many drivers out on the road without the State minimum coverage. If you are involved in an accident, there are one of several scenarios you can choose in an attempt to recover your losses. First, you can seek to recover the damages against the car owner personally. Second, you can seek to recover damages against the driver personally. And third, you can file a claim with your insurance company under a uninsured/underinsured policy, if it is available. Ohio law requires drivers who purchase automobile insurance to demonstrate Financial Responsibility to have at least $12,500 of Bodily Injury or Death Liability Coverage per person ($25,000 for 2 or more persons), as well as $7,500 of Property Damage Liability Coverage for any one accident. However, many times accidents result in damages that exceed those minimum coverage limits. If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits are exceeded, then the at-fault driver may be personally responsible to pay the difference not covered by the automobile insurance policy. If the driver didn’t have the funds to pay for the damages, they could face legal action and long-term debts. If the car owner’s child was driving a car that was underinsured and was in an accident, the child would be held responsible for any damages and could face significant debt. The driver and the driver’s family could end up paying for one accident for the rest of their life! The Department strongly encourages consumers to talk with their insurance agent to discuss the risks of only getting the bare minimum levels of insurance. Ohio's financial responsibility law went into effect in October, 1953 and was revised as of October 20, 1995. This law requires all drivers in the state to be able to pay for the damage they cause with their automobiles, either with insurance policies, surety bonds or cash deposits with the state. Most people choose to satisfy this law by purchasing auto insurance from private companies. If you choose this method, you must conform to several other laws as well. Ohio Revised Code section 4509.101 states that all drivers in the state who purchase auto insurance must do so with certain minimum liability limits. As of January 1, 2011, these limits are $12,500 per person injured in an accident with $25,000 aggregate limit for all injured people and $7,500 for property damage you cause. You may purchase limits higher than these for additional premiums.
What is comparative negligence?
Not all accidents are clearly the fault of one individual. If more than one person caused the damage, then negligence is distributed between the parties based on state apportionment laws. The amount of damages are apportioned between the parties based upon the amount of negligence attributed to the individual party. When the plaintiff and the defendant are both at fault, the amount of damages a plaintiff may recover is reduced in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to the plaintiff. The judge or jury may determine that actions of the defendant, the plaintiff, or both, caused the accident. Based on the facts of the case, the judge or jury will allocate the amount or percentage that each party was negligent. The State of Ohio follows a type of apportionment called "Modified Comparative Fault, 50% rule. The controlling statutes are found within Ohio Revised Code sections 2315.32 to 2315.36. The Modified Comparative Fault - 50% rule states that the plaintiff may recover his/her damages as long as the plaintiff is not more than 50% at fault in the accident. If the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, then the plaintiff may not recover any of the damages as a result of the accident. If the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, then they may recover, but their recovery will be limited according to their amount of fault. For example, if a judge or jury determines that driver 1 was 30% at fault in an accident and driver 2 was 70% at fault, driver 1 could only recover 70% of his damages (100% minus his 30% negligence) from the other party. Driver 2 would receive no compensation from driver 1 since driver 2 was more than 50% negligent (70%). If you have an issue regarding fault and comparative negligence, call Ryan, LLP to evaluate the facts of the accident and determine if you have a potential claim.
Who is at fault?
Determining the fault of an accident is the most critical element of any car accident claim. The driver at fault is the person whose conduct caused the accident. Establishing fault will determine who is liable to pay for the damages reasonably related to the accident. If the circumstances surrounding your accident make it clear that one person was at fault, then If, however, liability is not entirely clear or if there is shared fault, then fault is apportioned between the persons determined by the specifics of the law in your state on comparative or contributory negligence.
I was hit by another car and the insurance company wont pay for my rental. What should I do?
There may be many reasons why an insurance company refuses to pay for a rental when their insured is at fault. The driver may have a limited coverage that does not include rental cars. If you were hit by another car and the other driver's insurance is refusing to pay for your rental, you are going to need to get an attorney involved to sort out the issues and to determine why rentals are not being provided.
What is my case worth?
Predicting the value of any Ohio personal injury case is almost impossible. Ohio has laws that limit the recovery and the legislature has made it very difficult for the injured to recover a fair award for their injuries. There are many factors that effects the value of a case. Attorneys can only give you a general idea of the value of your case based on cases they have previously handled with similar facts and injuries as the present case. That said, the lawyers at Ryan LLP generally are able to give our clients a settlement range that they can reasonably expect after our lawyers have reviewed the client's personal injury case.