Being involved in a hit-and-run accident is a traumatizing experience for most people. If you are the victim, not only have you been unexpectedly involved in a car crash, but you have also been left alone at the crash scene.
At Friedman, Domiano & Smith, our Cleveland hit-and-run accident attorneys are ready to help victims injured by reckless drivers who flee the scene of an accident they caused. Our legal team is dedicated to representing injured victims and holding at-fault parties accountable for their actions.
In 2020, partner Marco Bocciarelli was named Litigator of the Year by the American Institute of Trial Lawyers.
If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident, you may be eligible for significant compensation. Contact our law offices today to learn more about your legal options. Your initial consultation is completely free, and if you choose to hire our firm, there are also no upfront costs to pay. We only get paid if we win your case.
FREE Case Review. Call 216-621-0070 24/7.
What Classifies as a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident is exactly what the name implies. A reckless, aggressive or negligent driver causes a crash and then leaves the scene to avoid dealing with the consequences. Ohio law refers to this type of traffic incident as a “hit skip,” a misdemeanor punishable under state law.
What Should I Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident?
After any type of traffic accident, it can be difficult to gather your thoughts. This is especially true if you suffered serious injuries in the crash.
However, if you are aware enough and physically able, there are a couple of steps that you can take, but the first one must happen quickly.
Document Details About the Hit-and-Run Driver’s Car
If you get nothing else, try to get the driver’s license plate. If the vehicle is moving too fast, see if you can note the make, model and color of the vehicle. While the at-fault driver may take off too quickly to get much information, it is important to write down as much as possible. For instance:
- Get the license plate – This could help police identify the vehicle and the driver.
- Note the color and make of the vehicle – Try to note general details, such as the model and year.
- Details about the driver – If you got a glimpse of the driver, anything you remember may help.
- Dash cam footage – if you have a dash cam, check if it captured any identifying details.
- Take photos of the vehicle as it drives away
Call Police to the Crash Scene
As soon as you have this information, you should call police immediately. If the driver is still in the area, police may be able to locate that individual and identify them. More importantly, check yourself and anyone who may be with you for injuries.
Try to Find Witnesses
People often stop when there is a car crash. Ask if anyone captured dash cam footage of the accident or saw what happened. See if they have any other details about the hit-and-run driver that could help police locate him or her.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Get in touch with your insurance company as soon after the incident as possible. They may be able to help track down the at-fault driver who fled the scene.
Most importantly, contact a qualified hit-and-run accident lawyer for help right away. Having an attorney on your side from the beginning helps to ensure your rights and best interests are protected.
Do I Still Have a Case if the At-Fault Party Flees the Crash Scene?
If the at-fault party flees the scene, your legal options for recovering compensation may vary. It depends on whether that individual can be located and identified, what insurance you carry and other factors.
If the Driver is Located and Identified
If police are able to locate the hit-and-run driver who caused your hit-and-run accident, you may be able to seek compensation against his or her insurance policy. That said, at-fault drivers who flee a crash scene often do so because they do not have insurance.
If the hit-and-run driver has assets, you may be able to file a claim against him or her personally. However, these types of claims are less likely to be successful.
If the Driver is Uninsured or Cannot Be Identified
If police cannot find or locate the driver, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages if you carry the following optional car insurance:
- Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP): In Ohio, PIP insurance provides as much as $10,000 in coverage. This insurance is available, regardless of who caused the crash.
- Med Pay Coverage: This coverage helps to pay for the medical costs for yourself, as well as any passengers who were riding with you. This insurance is also available no matter who was at fault.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: We cannot stress enough how paying for this optional coverage can provide peace of mind. This coverage helps to pay for your damages, whether injured in a hit-and-run crash or by a driver who has no insurance.
What Are Ohio’s Hit-and-Run Laws?
In Ohio, leaving the scene of a car crash is illegal and punishable under the law. Known as a “hit skip” in the state, drivers who violate this law may face hefty fines, license suspension and even jail time.
Penalties for leaving the scene of a crash in Ohio vary, depending on the severity of victims injured as a result.
For instance, leaving the scene of a crash where there are no injuries is a first degree misdemeanor. At-fault hit-and-run drivers face a maximum fine of $1,000, a minimum six-month suspension of a driver’s license, and up to six months of jail time.
As the severity of injuries to the crash victims increases, the penalties become more severe. The penalty also increases if the driver knew there were injured victims. In the worst case scenario, where a victim suffers fatal harm, and the hit-and-run driver knew about it, he or she could face a second degree felony charge. This most serious charge comes with up to $15,000 in fines, a six-month minimum license suspension and two to eight years of prison time.
What Are Ohio Drivers Legally Required to Do After Every Car Crash?
Under Ohio law, every driver in the state must do three things after being involved in a collision that causes damage and/or injuries:
- Immediately bring your vehicle to a full and complete stop near or at the crash site
- Check for injuries and contact 9-1-1 immediately
- Exchange contact details with the other driver or drivers involved in the accident
What if the Vehicle Was Parked and Unoccupied?
If the vehicle is parked and there is no one in the vehicle, drivers may attach a note with the contact information. This note should include:
- Name and address
- Registration number
- Driver’s license number
Drivers should also contact the police and the note they leave should describe what happened.
How Hiring a Lawyer May Help You Recover Compensation
There are many ways victims of a hit-and-run crash may benefit from hiring a lawyer to manage their case.
At Friedman, Domiano & Smith, we have been handling all kinds of car crashes, including hit-and-run cases, for decades. Having this experience and extensive legal knowledge means you do not have to worry about meeting deadlines, communicating with the insurance company or gathering evidence. Our law firm does all of that and more.
Additionally, we are prepared to fully investigate the cause of your crash and make every effort to locate the hit-and-run driver. We will also review the circumstances of your situation and look for every possible source to help recover compensation for your damages.
Why Do Some Drivers Leave the Scene of a Crash?
There are many reasons why an at-fault driver for a crash flees the scene. Typically, that person does not want to deal with the consequences, legal or otherwise. The most common reasons hit-and-run crashes occur is because drivers:
- Do not have a license
- Have a license, but it is suspended or invalid license
- Were driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other substances
- Have a prior history of DUIs
- Have a criminal record
- Feel asleep while driving
- Were texting or otherwise distracted
Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident? Our Firm is Prepared to Help
At Friedman, Domiano & Smith, we understand that for clients, seeking compensation is about more than recovering the costs of your damages. Recovering compensation is a critical part of moving forward after a crash.
Our lawyers are deeply committed to holding at-fault parties accountable, and we are prepared to seek the maximum possible compensation on your behalf. Our firm has a history of proven results, recovering millions for our clients.
Call our firm to take advantage of our free, no-obligation case review. This is an opportunity for you to discuss your concerns and get answers to your legal questions. If you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We also do not charge any fees while your case is in progress. We only get paid if we win your case.
Friedman, Domiano & Smith. Proven Results. 216-621-0070