State law in Ohio requires each person involved in a crash on a public road or parking lot to report the incident to police. The hit-and-run statute also imposes legal duties to remain on the scene, speak with investigators, alert emergency medical personnel when injuries occur, and, when possible, provide first aid to people who got hurt in the wreck.
The rules apply equally to the person who causes the crash and the victims. One of the implications of this is that victims of hit-and-run collisions can get charged with driving off after a wreck. Another is that failing to call in a crash can greatly complicate the insurance claims process, in large part because no official police report will get generated.
Do understand, however, that leaving a note on a parked car can protect an at-fault driver. Likewise, a person who comes back to a damaged car will not face problems for failing to report the incident immediately after it happened. When a hit-and-run involves an unoccupied vehicle, some leeway is allowed.
How a Victim Can Face Blame for a Hit and Run
Picture a four vehicle pile up at an intersection. A truck driver set off the chain reaction by failing to brake in time while approaching a red light. He slams into the back of a car, pushing it into the path of traffic crossing from a side street with a green light. If both the truck driver and the person in the car take off without checking on people in the other cars, without giving statements and insurance information to law enforcement officers, and without calling 911, both can be charged with the offense that Ohio courts call leaving the scene of an accident.
Problems With Hit-Skip Victim-Blaming
Even though the person driving the vehicle was a victim of the truck driver's negligence or recklessness, the person has to comply with the hit-and-run law in order to avoid possible criminal consequences. The victim might have panicked or just assumed that he or she did not need to stick around because the truck driver was clearly at fault. Police and the court would not be inclined to accept either excuse at face value, so hiring a hit-and-run defense lawyer would be a good idea for the driver.
Beyond the legal concern, remaining on the scene would spare the driver from coming under suspicion of causing any part of the wreck and inflicting any injuries. Simply getting accused of instigating a hit-and-run collision can make filing and collecting on insurance claims impossible. Insurers will work hard to deny claims from a driver they believe to be at fault.
Speaking with a lawyer who does hit-and-run defense can help in a situation like this. The attorney will be able to organize and present evidence to support the victim's right to make claims. The lawyer could also use evidence to explain why leaving the scene of the accident would be understandable and forgivable.