Hit-and-run accidents are a severe offense in Ohio. If a person leaves the scene of an accident without stopping, it can result in hefty fines, loss of driver’s license, and possible imprisonment. Understanding how to handle a hit-and-run accident is essential for every motorist.

Imagine you’re in Toledo, driving with caution through an intersection. Another vehicle fails to yield and hits you. The other driver pauses momentarily, quickly reverses, and leaves the scene of the car accident. You sit there in total shock. What happens now? Is the driver in trouble for leaving? What if he didn’t realize he had damaged your car? Can you recover damages, or are you out of luck?

Being involved in a hit-and-run accident in Ohio can be confusing and frustrating. Knowing your rights and the steps to take after a hit-and-run is crucial. Need a hit-and-run accident lawyer in Toledo? Trust Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault to investigate your case and protect your rights. Uninsured driver claim? Call us at 419-843-6663 for a free consultation.



The Nature of Hit-and-Runs: Stats


First, we must understand the scope of the problem. Hit-and-run accidents have seen a disturbing rise, with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reporting an average increase of 7.2% annually. These are not statistics to be brushed aside; they represent real people and families.


The Statistics of Hit and Run Incidents in Ohio


Hit-and-run car accidents have regrettably become increasingly common in Ohio, with a staggering total of 12,528 incidents reported in 2023. Toledo, which had 480 accidents in its city, is particularly worrisome. The trend persists in 2024, with Lucas County encountering 125 hit-and-run accidents this year. It’s a sobering reminder of the importance of being aware and alert on the roads and the need for justice and accountability for those who choose to flee the scene of an accident.


Top Causes of Hit and Run Accidents


There are many reasons why a person would leave the scene of an accident illegally.

  • Drunk or High Drivers: Hit-and-run drivers may flee to avoid an OVI charge, especially if they have a history of impaired driving.
  • Uninsured Drivers: Some individuals leave the accident scene because they lack compulsory car insurance, trying to evade legal consequences.
  • Drivers with Warrants or Violations: Those with outstanding warrants or prior tickets may flee to elude arrest and prevent license points.
  • Drivers with Legal Issues: Individuals facing legal problems often flee to avoid further complications.
  • Panicked Drivers: Some drivers, overwhelmed by panic, make hasty decisions to flee the scene, driven by the “fight or flight” reflex.


Ohio Hit-and-Run Penalties


A hit-and-run in Ohio is typically classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties ranging from a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to six months. The severity increases based on the circumstances, potentially leading to a fifth-degree felony charge for serious personal injury.


For this offense, prison terms can vary from six to twelve months with a fine of up to $2,500. In cases involving a fatality, the fleeing driver may face up to eight years in jail and a fine of $15,000. Additionally, regardless of the situation, a hit-and-run could result in a six-month suspension of the driver’s license.


In addition to the penalties listed above, your auto insurance rates will likely increase. In some cases, you may even be dropped from your insurance altogether.


Ohio Hit-and-Run Laws


Under statute 4549.02 of the Ohio Vehicle Code, drivers involved in an accident resulting in damage must:

  1. Stop at or near the accident scene.
  2. Exchange name, address, registration number, and driver’s license with others involved.
  3. Seek medical help if needed.

If the vehicle hit is unoccupied, drivers must leave a note with their details.

If the accident occurs off public roads, drivers should inform the local police with their contact details and a description of the damage.



What happens if you hit a building or some other structure?


Ohio hit-and-run laws extend beyond vehicles if a collision occurs with a building or structure. In such cases, Ohio law mandates stopping the vehicle and making efforts to contact the property owner or person in charge, providing necessary contact details. Failing to locate them requires reporting to the nearest police station within 24 hours with your contact information.


What to do if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run in Ohio?


Following a hit-and-run accident, your first instinct might be to chase after the fleeing driver. However, chasing them is the last thing you should do. Fleeing drivers aim to avoid capture, posing risks to you and others on the road. Reasons for fleeing include intoxication, stolen vehicles, or outstanding warrants.

After a hit-and-run accident, follow these steps:


Contact emergency services:  Your health is a top priority. If you are injured, call an ambulance (911). Regardless of injury status, notify the police and file a report. Even if the crash happens during an emergency and officers cannot report to the scene, you will still need to go to the police station and fill out a report.

Collect information: Collect details about the driver, the car involved, and the incident when gathering information after an accident. Remember to note the vehicle’s make, model, color, and any visible damages, such as broken mirrors or scratches. If there is debris like glass or parts on the ground, take note of that as well. Even better, if possible, preserve evidence by taking videos or photographs with your cell phone. Also, look around the accident scene and take note of any “Sky Cop” cameras or businesses that may have surveillance cameras, such as banks or fast food restaurants.

Locate witnesses: Identify potential witnesses like bystanders or building staff and obtain their contact details.

Call your insurance company: Inform your insurer promptly to begin investigations and locate the fleeing driver. The sooner, the better. Some auto insurance policies require notice within 24 hours.

In an accident where you exchange information, you risk receiving false details from the other driver, which can lead to a “hit-and-run” scenario. To prevent this, you should contact the police during an accident


How do I claim damages if I can’t identify the hit-and-run driver?


If you can’t identify the hit-and-run driver, you can receive damages. If the driver is found later, you can file a claim with their insurance or pursue a personal injury lawsuit. In cases where the driver remains unknown, compensation may be available through specific optional insurance coverage. Examples in Ohio include:

  • Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage: Protects injuries and damages from accidents involving uninsured or unidentified drivers.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage: Offers up to $10,000 regardless of fault.
  • MedPay coverage: Covers medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of fault.
  • Property Damage: If possible, use collision coverage to start the property damage claim. Your insurance company will pursue the hit-and-run driver and any possible insurance policies for reimbursement of your paid claims.


Consulting a personal injury attorney can help navigate hit-and-run cases and ensure rightful compensation.


Toledo Hit-and-Run Accident Attorneys 


The Toledo hit-and-run attorneys at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault collaborate with local law enforcement to investigate accident circumstances involving our client victims. It’s uncommon for hit-and-run drivers to be apprehended unless a witness notes the driver’s license number or the incident is captured on video. Victims of hit-and-run accidents or those struck by uninsured/underinsured drivers should exercise caution when dealing with insurance companies that dispute valid injury claims. The Toledo car accident attorneys at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault have safeguarded injured drivers and their families in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan for over 65 years.


Call 419-843-6663 for a complimentary consultation if a hit-and-run/uninsured driver has injured you, or complete our online contact form.


If you reside in or around any of the areas we serve in Ohio and Michigan – MaumeeDefianceFremontFindlayLima, Mansfield, Toledo, and Monroe – and are searching for “car accident attorneys near me,” you can count on having one of our best auto accident attorneys from Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault to represent you in a personal injury or wrongful death case.  With a Toledo personal injury attorney near you, help is just a phone call away.