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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Can You Go to Jail for a Car Accident in Ohio? What to Know

When traveling on an Ohio road, the last thing one expects is to get into a car accident with another party who won't stop. Likewise, it's upsetting to park the vehicle overnight in front of the house and wake up to damage from someone's hit-and-run.

Hit-and-run accidents are more than inconvenient; they're often deadly or come with serious injuries. Likewise, they could happen to anyone. The United States shows that 18 percent of all pedestrians killed back in 2014 were struck by a hit-and-run driver.

Though a hit-and-run is one reason one could go to jail for a car accident in Ohio, it's not the only one. This blog will focus on the ways a person can go to jail after a car accident.

Is it possible to file a personal injury lawsuit? Yes, and Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can assist! They can help advise on questions like, "Does the at fault driver pay for rental car in Ohio?"

Reasons a Person Can Go to Jail After a Vehicular Accident Occurred

Reasons a Person Can Go to Jail After a Vehicular Accident Occurred

Ohio law states that a person could go to jail because of a car crash for many reasons. These include:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol

  • Reckless driving

  • Vehicular manslaughter

  • Fleeing the police

  • Hit-and-run

Driving Under the Influence

Under the Ohio Revised Code 4511.19, an OVI is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, though it has unique sentencing. The driver must serve a mandatory three-day jail term or choose an intervention program. However, the maximum jail term could be up to 180 days for a first offense.

Every driver should make a reasonable effort to drive unimpaired and safely to avoid property damage and injury to another person.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor charge, so it carries a penalty of $150 for the first offense. However, after a conviction with a second offense in the same year, it jumps to a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The fine could be $250, and the person could go to jail for 30 days.

Vehicular Manslaughter

When someone gets killed in the auto accident, and another driver causes the incident, involuntary manslaughter can be one of the charges filed against that driver. It's a felony in Ohio, so the sentence could be 11 years in jail or less. This is a serious offense.

Hit-and-run Accident

If someone gets into a car crash and leaves the scene of an accident, this is a hit-and-run. Let's learn more about it below.

What Will the Police Do During a Hit-and-run Accident?

It's important to understand what a hit-and-run is. Ohio Revised Code 4549.03 claims that a hit and run happens when a driver leaves the scene of an accident intentionally without providing appropriate contact information.

After discovering the damage or being involved in a hit-and-run accident, it's crucial to follow these steps so that the police can help:

  • Get information on the offending vehicle, such as the license plate number, model, and make.

  • Before leaving the scene, make notes of the time and date of the incident. Take photographs of the car and accident scene if possible.

  • Look for potential witnesses and take down phone numbers and names.

  • If the victim didn't see the hit-and-run (it might have happened overnight when the car was parked), it's important to take as much information as possible, such as the damage details, location, and estimated time of impact.

Some people will try to file false claims to defraud the insurance system. Therefore, it's crucial to have evidence before reporting the situation to the police or calling a lawyer.

How Long Does Ohio Law Give Someone to Report a Hit-and-run Accident?

The person who caused the hit-and-run has 24 hours from when the incident occurred to contact the police and offer a full description of the damages, location, and time. This applies when the at-fault party cannot find the owner of the vehicle.

However, if one is injured or has suffered property damage from a hit-and-run, they should report the accident to the insurance company and police as soon as possible. There could be time limits on filing a compensation claim. If they were injured during the incident, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury case is two years from when the accident occurred in Ohio.

It's unwise to chase down someone who hits another vehicle. However, it's crucial to get whatever information possible on the hit-and-run driver. Contacting the police quickly is better than risking one's safety and potentially causing another accident.

If the police cannot locate the other driver, it's still good to have a police report on file. Overall, victims can make their claims that much easier by doing so.

The Hit-skip Penalty in Ohio

If a party has knowledge of the collision or accident, it's illegal for them to leave the scene without giving contact information of the operator's motor vehicle to those injured in the accident, to the cops at the scene, and to the occupants or operator of the motor vehicle damaged.

Sometimes, the person injured cannot comprehend the information. Therefore, the other driver involved should remain at the scene until the police officer arrives. The only time this isn't possible is when they left by an emergency vehicle operated by appropriate personnel.

If an unattended motor vehicle is damaged, the operators must provide contact information. It's considered a hit-skip if they don't.

Potential Penalties for a Hit-and-Run

Leaving the scene could be a felony in Ohio, which can lead to a criminal record. Typically, it's a first-degree misdemeanor if the other party failed to stop and violated the law without serious injuries. This often comes with 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines.

However, if a serious injury occurred, the penalties can include:

  • The accident results in a death, and the offender knew; it's a second-degree felony. This is often punishable by $15,000 in fines and two to eight years in jail.

  • However, if the offender had no knowledge that the other party had died, it's a third-degree felony. This is punishable by $10,000 in fines and 12 to 60 months in jail.

  • It's a fourth-degree felony if the offender knew that the collision caused serious physical harm to the other party. This is punishable by $5,000 in fines and six to 18 months in jail.

  • In any other case that involves serious injuries, it could be a fifth-degree felony. This is punishable by $2,500 in fines and six to 12 months in jail.

Along with the criminal penalties, a person could suffer from a driver's license suspension. This applies to a commercial driver's license, a probationary license, a temporary instruction permit, and the nonresident operating privilege. Overall, the person cannot drive. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to find out if you can sue for emotional distress after car accident Ohio.

It's Illegal to Leave the Scene in Ohio

If one breaks the law and leaves the scene of an accident on any public road/highway, it's a hit-skip. Penalties can include suspension of the offender's driver's license for at least six months, jail time of up to six months, fines of $500, and more.

However, if someone leaves the scene of an accident where a serious injury occurred, the charges could be more severe. Still, the driver who fled the scene must have known there was a serious injury, which could boost the criminal charges to a fourth-degree felony. Likewise, it's considered a second-degree felony if they knew someone had died.

Many times, drivers will leave the scene of an accident because they're scared. They might fear they'll rack up other offenses. For example, they're driving on a revoked or suspended license, they don't have adequate or any insurance, or they were distracted or driving drunk.

Regardless, leaving the scene of the accident isn't worth the extra traffic violations and criminal offenses, such as aggravated vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.

Filing a Lawsuit or Insurance Company Claim After a Hit-and-run Accident

Filing a Lawsuit or Insurance Company Claim After a Hit-and-run Accident

Sometimes, crashes are minor, such as hitting a curb and damaging a mailbox. However, hit-skip convictions don't occur unless the driver left the scene of an accident knowingly.

If one has uninsured motorist coverage on the car insurance plan, it could cover the medical costs and property damages incurred. However, Ohio's uninsured motorist coverage doesn't cover anything from a hit and run, and it's not required. Instead, residents will use personal injury protection, collision coverage, and medical payments coverage to deal with injuries or car damages after a hit-skip.

It's best to speak with the insurance company about not being at fault to reduce the chance of having higher insurance rates in the future.

How Will Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Assist Victims

Victims often feel hopeless after a vehicular accident, especially when they know they did nothing wrong. Whether it was drunk driving, reckless driving, or hit-and-run accidents, an experienced car accident attorney in Cincinnati OH can assist. Insurance companies are difficult to deal with and may not pay without a fight.

When a victim wants to pursue a claim for a personal injury, it's crucial to hire an attorney. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is here to assist. The lawyer will gather evidence from the scene of an accident and always goes to war for Cincy. Please call (833) 692- 5038 for a free consultation today!


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