Ohio Car Accident Laws

If you run into an accident in Ohio, you’ll need to know the state’s car accident laws to file a claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Written by Kaitlin May
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you’re involved in a car accident in
, you’ll need to make sure a report is filed through the police and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). To take care of any damages you incurred in the incident, you can file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit reflecting your level of fault.
When you’re in the throes of an accident’s aftermath, your focus is on the safety of everyone involved and pinpointing how the mess happened in the first place. An accident report probably isn’t the first item on your priority list, but it’s essential to your recovery from the collision. Each state has its parameters around car accidents, which is why it’s crucial to know the laws where you live before you’re faced with one in real-time.
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What to do after a crash: Ohio car accident reporting laws

Before you do anything else, it’s important to ensure you and any passengers in your vehicle are safe immediately after an accident. If possible, move your vehicle away from traffic, assess everyone for injuries, and contact emergency personnel if anyone needs assistance. 
You should also do your best to record any details you can spot at the scene for future reference and exchange your insurance information with the other parties involved in the crash.
Then what? If you’re in Ohio, there may be three different sources you’ll need to report the incident to:
  • The police
  • The BMV
  • Your insurance provider
Let’s take a deeper dive into car accident laws in Ohio so you can prepare yourself for the unexpected.

When to report an accident to the police

While Ohio doesn’t have any particular laws regarding a time limit for accident reporting, accidents resulting in injury, death, or over $1,000 in property damage are required to be reported to the police. 
Neglecting to report an accident of this magnitude is considered a minor misdemeanor in Ohio, so it’s best to contact the police as soon as the accident takes place
If you need to access a record of the report filed by you or the police, you can do so on the
Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) website
. Keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks for an accident to be accessible on the ODPS database. To get the information sooner, you can reach out to the agency investing in the accident, which will most likely be the police department local to the accident site. 
You won’t need to go through the process of reporting the accident on your own if the police were called to the accident scene

When to report an accident to the BMV

If the police weren’t present at an accident, you’ll need to submit a crash report to the BMV. This is also the case if the other party in the accident was uninsured. You’ll have six months from the date of the accident to ensure the BMV receives your accident report. 
To do so, you’ll need to submit a completed
BMV 3303 Crash Report
to the BMV. The form can be submitted online, via snail mail, or in person at an office location.
This is where the initial gathering of details comes into play because you’ll need to include the following information:
  • Where the accident occurred
  • How many vehicles and parties were involved
  • The nearest intersection
  • The date and time of the crash
  • Estimated vehicle and property damage amount 
  • Weather and road conditions
You’ll also need to include details about the other parties involved, including:
  • The full name(s) of the other driver(s)
  • Their home address, phone numbers, driver’s license number, and license plate number

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Ohio’s insurance laws

We know that insurance is a key player in an Ohio accident reporting process, but what happens if you don’t have car insurance? How much coverage does state law require?
Not only do you need to have a car insurance policy to drive legally in Ohio, but anyone who drives your vehicle must have it as well. The simplest way to avoid unnecessary troubles after an accident is to purchase car insurance. In accordance with
Ohio's car insurance laws
, you'll need to follow the state’s 25/50/25 rule:
Ohio drivers need to be prepared to show proof of insurance whenever they’re on the road. Without it, a $50 fine can be issued, and subsequent offenses may lead to license revocation. Not only does driving without insurance lead to penalties, but it can also interfere with your ability to
claim damages
from the accident. 
Despite these regulations being in place, not every Buckeye driver has insurance. An estimated 12.4% or 995,000 drivers in Ohio hit the roads without car insurance.
If you belong to the 87.6% of insured drivers, you might run into obstacles when it’s time to file a claim for an accident with an uninsured driver. To avoid setbacks with your insurance claim, it’s beneficial to get
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
so you’ll be protected either way.
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Claiming damages after an accident: Ohio’s personal injury laws

If you were the victim of an accident that left you with more damage than your insurance company could cover, you might want to file a personal injury lawsuit. Under
Section ​​2305.10
of Ohio’s Revised Code, there are two types of damages you can claim:
  • Compensatory—intended to fulfill financial losses of the accident victim caused by injuries
  • Punitive—meant to punish the defendant but rarely rewarded 
Since compensatory damages are more commonly upheld in court, they’re split into two categories:
  • Economic damages—medical bills, lost wages
  • Non-economic damages—pain and shuddering, mental anguish, disfigurement
Although claims come with caps or time limits, economic damages aren’t subject to a statute of limitations.
Ohio Revised Code §2315.18
allows two years for an injured person claiming non-economic damages to file a personal injury lawsuit. Beyond that period, the Ohio court system will refuse to hear your case, and any right to compensation will be surrendered.

Exceptions to Ohio’s personal injury laws

In some situations, there are exceptions to Ohio’s personal injury laws. According to Ohio Revised Code
, a victim who sustained a catastrophic loss is exempt from the law’s limitations. Non-economic damages are not applicable for the following cases:
  • “The victim suffered a permanent and substantial physical deformity like a lost limb, or”
  • “A permanent physical injury that prevents them from caring for themself”
While there’s a cap on punitive damages at twice the value of the compensatory damages, a small employer or individual can attain a limit of 10% of their net worth up to $350,000. 
In addition to these exceptions, other factors could influence the potential for compensation, including:
  • Insurance policy limits
  • Pre-existing injuries
  • The partial fault of the plaintiff

Who’s to blame: Ohio’s modified comparative fault law

Accidents can happen in a split second, which makes it difficult to determine who was at fault for the collision. If Tom hits Alex’s car while running a stop sign, but Alex was scrolling on Instagram while driving, who would take the fall for causing the accident? 
While some states follow a pure comparative negligence model, sometimes referred to as comparative fault, Ohio upholds a modified comparative fault system. It’s also called shared negligence, which means a claimant can pursue damages from an accident if their fault level is determined to be less than 51%. In other words, this law allows drivers to file a claim as long as they weren't more at fault than the other driver.
That means if Tom is 90% at fault and can prove that Alex was 10% at fault for the accident, Alex can rest assured that she can get 90% of her damages paid for by Tom and his insurance company.
Ohio is one of 23 states that follows the 51% modified comparative fault law, but be mindful that the rules will change if your accident happens outside of Ohio’s state lines
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