We live in a fast paced, demanding world and even the best drivers can become distracted from time- to-time. You know how it is, you’re driving home after work trying to get to the baby sitter, the grocery store, the gas station or reliving that argument you had earlier today and what you should have said…. Then boom! You’ve just rear-ended the vehicle in front of you. According to Fairport Harbor Police Chief Leonard, a 15 year public servant of Fairport Harbor and an officer with over 30 years experience, distracted driving is a common cause of accidents. Insurance statistics show that, on average a person will get into an accident at least once every 6 to 8 years!
Do you know what to do if you get into an accident? Are you aware of what Ohio State law requires? Chief Leonard was kind enough to give us some pointers……
If you’re driving a vehicle and are in an accident, you’re required to stop your vehicle at once. Never leave the scene of an accident!
Accidents with no Injuries….
First and foremost be sure that everyone involved is unhurt. Stay calm! If anyone has injuries call 911 immediately, do you best to explain the nature and severity of the injury, as well as, your location. Move the vehicles off the road only if they can be safely moved.
If everyone involved is unhurt and the vehicles are drivable, safely move the vehicles to a location nearby that will not hinder traffic. You should then call the police to report the accident. Please note that if it appears that no one has been hurt, you are not required to call the police. Be aware that police officers do not have to respond to calls concerning accidents that don’t involve an injury.
Accidents with Injuries…..
If an injury has occurred and you are involved in the accident and the injury is serious enough that the injured cannot either understand or write down the information you’ve given them, you MUST stay with the victim until the police arrive. (Unless, of course, you’ve also been injured, and are being removed from the accident scene in an emergency vehicle.)
Should an injury occur, or if there was at least $400 in property damage, and if the driver or owner of one of the vehicles in the accident doesn’t have auto insurance or acceptable financial responsibility coverage, you’ll need to file a Crash Report (Form BMV 3303) with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).Keep in mind you’ll need to do so within six months of the accident date. Every Law Enforcement agency has a different policy on how to obtain a Crash Report, for example; in Fairport Harbor you will need to call in advance and request the report. The report will be available for pick-up in twenty-four hours with a nominal fee of one dollar.
If Law Enforcement Officers are available they will investigate the accident, get statements from those involved in the accident, as well as, eyewitnesses, get insurance and vehicle information and compile that information into an accident report. You can pick up a copy of the Crash Report from most police departments with-in two business days. If a person is deemed at fault on the scene, Law Enforcement Officers will issue a citation. If it is unclear as to who is at fault the officer can forward it to the prosecutor’s office and they will review the case.
No-one wants to be in a vehicle accident. Tempers can easily flare, remember to stay calm.
Please note that most local Law Enforcement Officials make every effort to assist in accident situations, even minor ones. However, they aren’t always available.
If a Law Enforcement Officer is not available it will be up to you to gather information. It is important to exchange information with the other driver(s). Ask to see and write down information from their Driver’s License and Insurance card. Usually the vehicle information is on the insurance card, this includes the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) if it’s not, write that down too. If you are driving the vehicle involved in the accident but not the owner of the vehicle you are required to furnish the owner’s information as well. Err on the side of diligence; it’s always better to have too much information than not enough. However, do not give out your Social Security number or any bank/credit account numbers. Next, speak to any witnesses and get a statement as well as their contact information.
Is your vehicle safe to drive?
For your safety, do NOT drive your vehicle if any of the following have occurred. Call for a tow truck.
- Fluids leaking from the vehicle or a strong gasoline smell
- Smoke or steam emitting from vehicle
- Tires that are rubbing against fenders or hindered in some way
- Broken or non working lights
- Fenders, bumpers or other items that are dragging or hanging
- Cracked windows that inhibit visibility or broken windows
- Vehicle making unusual sounds or not running correctly
- Airbags have deployed
Hopefully you have done your homework and you have the number of a reputable tow company and body shop in your mobile phone or glove compartment. Remember that in the State of Ohio YOU have complete control over who repairs your vehicle, meaning that it is unlawful for your insurance company to coerce you to take your vehicle to “Their Preferred Shop”. Send it to a shop You Trust! You can print off a copy of our “Vehicle Accident Information” form to keep in your glove compartment here.
Post Written By: MMH