One important bit of wisdom that most people understand about the aftermath of an Ohio auto accident is to wait for police to arrive so you can provide your take on events for the police report. The information that law enforcement includes regarding a car crash or trucking accident is important for both criminal charges and civil liability. But the latest transportation and public safety budget passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by Governor Kasich limits the circumstances under which police must file motor vehicle accident reports.
Section 5502.11 of the Ohio Revised Code currently states that "Every law enforcement agency representing a township, county, municipal corporation, or other political subdivision investigating a motor vehicle accident involving a fatality, personal injury, or property damage in an amount greater than four hundred dollars shall, within five days, forward a written report of such accident to the director of public safety." The amendment raises the property damage threshold to one thousand dollars.
Backers of the amendment cite the considerable costs imposed on police departments and other local agencies by the reporting requirement. The Dayton Chief of Police, who encouraged the change, estimates that officers spend about two hours on every report, and the new threshold would eliminate "hundreds if not thousands" of reports for his department every year. Officers will continue to respond to crashes, ensure that the identity of all drivers involved is documented and issue appropriate citations for traffic violations. But they will no longer make a determination about who was at fault if the accident does not involve sufficient damage, a fatality or an apparent personal injury.
Assessing Evidence of Liability and Damages After a Motor Vehicle Accident
One potential difficulty with easing the police report mandate in Ohio is the possibility that a responding officer will fail to properly assess the level of damage or be unaware of a potentially serious injury. An Ohio insurance industry executive suggested that drivers may need to take more initiative themselves. "A large percentage of accidents are above that threshold ($1,000), but we do caution consumers that even though police aren't filling out a report, you may still need to fill out something on your own," Dean Fadel of the Ohio Insurance Institute told the Dayton Daily News.
Insurance adjusters will obviously face an increased burden to determine fault in the aftermath of an accident. But this budget-driven reduction in public safety services will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on drivers who are harmed by an uninsured motorist or may have to file an insurance bad faith claim against an insurer that fails to follow through on its obligations. More than ever, an Ohio personal injury lawyer who has the skills to investigate an accident and pursue fair compensation for accident victims will be a vital asset for drivers.
Ohio Car Accident Attorneys Can Seek Out Witnesses and Secure Other Evidence
Requiring police to investigate automobile accidents only if they exceed $1,000 in value will doubtless put a greater burden on crash victims who only discover afterwards that they were injured. Whiplash injuries, back injuries and brain injuries can be particularly difficult to diagnose, and symptoms of serious injury may not emerge until weeks or months after a car accident or trucking accident. If the injury was caused by a direct rear-end impact, the resulting vehicle damage may be relatively minor, but the driver and passenger in the vehicle struck can still have been subjected to momentarily violent forces.
Many people may not realize that a person can suffer a traumatic brain injury without even suffering a blow to the head. Concussions can result when the body quickly changes direction and the brain impacts the skull. A driver, passenger or family member who has questions about the onset of suspicious symptoms anytime after a seemingly minor traffic accident is well advised to contact an Ohio auto accident attorney to discuss the legal ramifications of such an injury.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can also discuss the latest legal developments and advise you about obtaining appropriate medical care. By assessing your legal options as soon as possible, you can learn about filing a timely insurance claim, investigating the circumstances of the accident and holding negligent parties accountable for the harm they caused.