What to do after a hit-and-run in Ohio

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Accidents can be frightening and leave emotional or even physical scars. These emotions are heightened further if you are involved in a hit-and run accident. A hit-and-run accident is a collision in which one of the drivers takes off, leaving the accident before appropriate authorities, — typically the police — arrive to assess the situation. It is this risk (among others) that has led most states to require drivers to maintain certain minimum limits of liability insurance.

Hit-and-run cases occur more frequently than you might think. For example, according to Bankrate’s research, in 2016, 2017, and 2018, more than 20,000 hit and run accidents occurred in the state of California alone. These accidents resulted in more than 26,000 injuries each year, on average. It has been estimated that a hit-and-run incident occurs every minute in the United States.

Hit-and-runs in Ohio

Leaving the scene of an accident may seem like a reasonable option at the time, particularly if the accident was minor or if the offending driver doesn’t have insurance. This is never the right choice, whether you are in Ohio or any other state. Penalties are serious no matter how much damage or injury occurred, and your insurance rates are not the only financial consideration that will be impacted if you leave an accident scene.

Ohio hit-and-run laws

Ohio law requires that every driver involved in any accident resulting in some form of damage take these three steps:

  • Stop at or nearby the accident scene.
  • Exchange the names and addresses, registration numbers, and driver’s license information with other people involved in the accident.
  • Contact medical personnel if it is necessary.

Typically, a hit-and-run will be treated as a first-degree misdemeanor per Ohio statutes, which can result in a fine up to $1,000 and jail time up to six months. Penalties escalate as the seriousness increases with the potential for a fifth-degree felony charge if serious personal injury occurred. Prison sentences in this case can range from six to twelve months with a fine up to $2,500. If there was a death, the fleeing driver may spend up to five years in jail with a $10,000 fine.

How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Ohio

If you are convicted of a hit-and-run in Ohio, don’t be surprised to see car insurance premiums at least double. In Ohio, the average annual car insurance premium of $1,034 is well below the national average, but this advantage is lost if you have a hit-and-run on your record. The table below shows average annual full coverage premiums before and after an at-fault hit-and-run and accident.

Additionally, you would also need to obtain an SR-22 after a serious traffic violation in Ohio which includes a hit-and-run. An SR-22 is a financial responsibility certificate which proves that a high-risk driver has met the Ohio minimum legal requirements for automobile liability insurance. Typically, an SR-22 will need to be maintained for three to five years.

Average annual full coverage premiums:

Before a hit-and-run After a hit-and-run After a standard accident
Ohio average $1,034 $2,272 $1,561
National average $1,674 $3,367 $2,405

4 things to do after a hit-and-run in Ohio

Understandably, you will likely be shaken and emotional if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Above all else, do not follow any instinct to chase the fleeing driver. Rather, it is best to try and settle yourself and take the following steps:

  1. Contact emergency services: The health of you and your passengers should be your very first priority. If there are injuries, call emergency services (911) for an ambulance. Also call the police. You will need a formal accident report for insurance, and law enforcement’s resources to find the driver who fled the scene.
  2. Collect information and take photographs: Collect as much information as you can about the accident and take detailed notes about the car and driver and hopefully record a license plate. Also be prepared to describe the event in detail and take photos of the entire accident scene and surrounding area and your vehicle.
  3. Locate witnesses: If you are able, try and learn if anyone in the area or surrounding homes or other buildings may have witnessed the accident. If they are willing, get their contact information and provide it to the police.
  4. Call your insurance company: Although it’s important to attend to emergency services first, as soon as reasonable, contact your auto insurer and follow their guidance on steps to take with a claim. Provide your insurer with all of the information you have gathered.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

Provided that the fleeing driver can be found, you always have the option to file a claim with that driver’s auto insurer, if the driver is insured. Ohio also allows you to file a lawsuit directly against the driver, if necessary.

Of course, you may not be able to locate the driver. There are several ways that your own insurance company in Ohio may cover your personal injury and property damages arising from a hit-and run, depending on what coverages you have in your policy:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage: UM/UIM coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage incurred by you or the passengers in your vehicle from an accident where the other driver is uninsured, underinsured or if they flee the scene and can not be located.
  • MedPay coverage: MedPay coverage provides coverage for medical expenses incurred by you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault. This coverage is comparable to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage which is not offered in Ohio.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

The best car insurance company won’t be the same for everyone, although our Bankrate review of top providers highlights some of the strengths of major national insurers and super-regional insurers. It is wise to research a number of these insurers and look for financial strength rankings as well as good reputations for customer service and claim handling. Obtain several quotes and compare to determine which company can best meet your needs at an affordable price.

How much does car insurance cost?

The average annual cost of car insurance in Ohio is $328 for a minimum coverage policy and $1,034 for a full coverage policy. Compared to the average for the country, Ohio is on the cheaper side. You have many options to potentially secure a lower rate, remember that it may make sense to pay a bit more if you are able to secure more coverage with specific add-ons to fit your needs and provide greater financial protection.

What happens if I drive without insurance in Ohio?

It is against the law to drive without insurance in Ohio. Penalties for driving without car insurance can include the suspension of your driving privileges, fines, and dealing with mandatory towing costs. Reinstatement fees can range from $150 to $650.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.

Written by
Rick Hoel
Insurance Contributor
Rick Hoel is an international business attorney and legal and insurance writer for Bankrate.com, Reviews.com and Accessibility.com. Over the last several years, he has covered topics dealing with personal and commercial insurance and technology and the law. Rick is General Counsel and Director of Risk Management and sits on the Board of Power Stow Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Power Stow A/S in Denmark, the world leader in the supply of tracked conveyor systems to the airline industry.
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