Liability and Negligence Law in Ohio
Accident Liability Law: Ohio
How much do you really know about liability and negligence law in Ohio? In order for someone to be charged with negligence, you must prove the person(s) acted negligently and found to be liable for their actions. Once a judge or jury (depending on the charge), finds the defendant liable and negligent, you are eligible for monetary compensation. The actual process is very involved and you’ll need a lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process. This is where my more than 40 years of experience in car crash cases is invaluable!
Reasons a Driver Can Be Found Liable
In Ohio, car accidents often occur due to one driver’s negligence, which refers to a failure to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle. Negligent actions can encompass a wide range of behaviors, including speeding, failing to yield, improper lane changes, or distracted driving. Liability in these cases is established by demonstrating that the driver’s actions deviated from what a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances. Essentially, if a driver’s negligence directly leads to an accident, they can be held liable for the resulting damages.
Failure to Obey Traffic Laws
Ohio has a comprehensive set of traffic laws and regulations that drivers are required to follow. When a driver disregards these laws and their actions contribute to a car accident, they can be found liable for the collision. This liability is based on the premise that obeying traffic laws is not only a legal requirement but also a duty owed to other drivers on the road. Examples include running red lights, ignoring stop signs, or driving above the posted speed limit.
Distracted driving is a prevalent cause of car accidents. This occurs when a driver diverts their attention from the road to engage in activities such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting in-car entertainment systems. Liability can be assigned if it can be proven that the driver’s distraction directly contributed to the accident. The legal argument is based on the principle that a reasonable and attentive driver would prioritize road safety over distractions.
Ohio, like most states, prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If a driver’s impairment due to alcohol, illegal substances, or even prescription medications leads to a car accident, they can be held liable for the resulting damages. The liability in such cases is clear, as impaired driving is a direct violation of the law and a significant breach of the duty of care owed to others on the road.
Reckless driving encompasses aggressive and dangerous behaviors on the road, such as tailgating, excessive speeding, weaving between lanes, and road rage incidents. When a driver’s reckless actions lead to a car accident, they can be found liable. The driver’s reckless disregard for the safety of others and the violation of their duty to drive in a responsible and non-threatening manner is a liability.
Failure to Maintain Vehicle
Vehicle maintenance is a responsibility of car owners and operators. If a car accident is caused by a mechanical failure that could have been prevented through regular maintenance (e.g., faulty brakes, worn-out tires), the owner or driver of the vehicle may be held liable for negligence. The liability is based on the failure to fulfill the duty of maintaining a safe and properly functioning vehicle.
No-Fault Insurance State
Ohio is not a no-fault insurance state, meaning that the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for covering the damages incurred by the other driver. The extent of the at-fault driver’s responsibility is established in the police report and other relevant evidence. This means that the driver deemed primarily at fault will bear the financial responsibility for the accident, including medical bills and property damage, for the other party.
Adverse Weather Conditions
As we know, Ohio experiences a variety of weather conditions, including rain, snow, ice, and fog. Accidents can occur due to reduced visibility and slippery road surfaces during adverse weather. However, liability may still be assigned if a driver fails to adjust their driving behavior to account for these conditions. In such cases, the driver’s duty of care extends to adapting their driving to suit the prevailing weather conditions. Failure to do so can result in liability for any accidents that occur.
Running a Red Light or Stop Sign
Failing to stop at red lights or stop signs is a common cause of car accidents. Fault is typically given to the driver who violated the traffic signal, as it is a clear breach of traffic laws and a violation of their duty to obey traffic signals. When a driver disregards these signals, they are essentially neglecting their responsibility to ensure safe passage through intersections, potentially leading to collisions.
Failure to Yield Right of Way
Certain traffic scenarios require drivers to yield the right of way to others. Failure to do so can lead to accidents at intersections, merge points, or pedestrian crossings. When a driver fails to yield the right of way as required by law, and causes a car accident, they can be found liable for the collision.
The police report is a critical document in Ohio car accident cases. It typically includes information about the circumstances of the accident, statements from witnesses, officer assessments, and sometimes even has diagrams detailing the accident scene. In legal proceedings, the police report serves as a valuable source of information to establish liability. It may contain evidence of traffic law violations, driver statements, and other relevant details that can help determine who was at fault for the accident.
Establishing liability is necessary in any car accident case. It is important that you know you rights, and are able to show you were not the driver who is at fault. I am here to help you with that. If you’ve been in a car accident, you need to call me to discuss the details, so I can fight for your rights. By proving negligence by the other driver, you will be able to get the financial help you need for recovery in a personal injury case. Call me today, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®
Foreseeable Harm, Common Law, and Comparative Negligence
In order for a person to be found guilty of common law negligence, the plaintiff needs to prove their case and show that the defendant acted in a manner that led to foreseeable harm. Negligence means that the defendant acted in a manner that led to the bodily or mental harm of another person. For example, two people were racing their cars in a residential area. One driver hit a pedestrian as they walked down the street. This was act an of negligence, because he drivers failed to obey the posted speed limit, drove recklessly and hurt someone.
Foreseeable harm means the drivers knew what they were doing could potentially hurt someone. If the plaintiff is able to prove their injuries were due to this negligent behavior, the defendants would be found guilty of negligence. The plaintiff could then be awarded monetary damages. Comparative negligence is another factor that must be considered. In the example above, there were two negligent drivers and one injured party. If the plaintiff played a role in the accident – for example, they were walking in the road rather than on the sidewalk – their award may be reduced since they may be deemed somewhat responsible for their injuries.
Defenses Against Negligence Claims
One of the primary defenses used when charged with negligence is called ‘assumption of risk’, and there are three types. Additionally, there is a sudden emergency defense, and what is referred to as last clear chance doctrine. The three types of assumptions of risk are; express, primary, and secondary. Each risk type refers to the degree the plaintiff played in the incident. If they played an express role, they are just as at fault as the defendant. Both can agree to drop the lawsuit because they are equally to blame. Under primary risk, the plaintiff knowingly put themselves in danger, so the defendant isn’t completely at fault. Finally, with secondary risk, the plaintiff might have done something that compromised their own safety. Again, the defendant isn’t the only one to blame. However, all of these charges must be proven.
The next defense, sudden emergency, comes into play when someone is not responsible for their actions due to a medical or other emergency situation. For example, when someone loses control of their car because they pass out behind the wheel, they are not liable. Other emergency situations fall into this as well. Finally, there’s the last chance doctrine. This requires the plaintiff to prove that no matter what they did, the defendant is still to blame for the results.
Ohio Accident Liability Laws FAQs
What is strict liability in Ohio motor vehicle accidents, and when does it apply?
Strict liability in Ohio means that an individual can be held liable for an accident without the need to prove negligence. This typically applies in cases involving certain inherently dangerous activities or situations. In strict liability cases, the defendant owed a duty to the injured person, and if an accident occurred, they may be held responsible.
How is fault determined in an Ohio car accident case?
Fault in an Ohio car accident case is typically determined by assessing the conduct of each driver involved. The at-fault driver is the one whose actions or negligence directly led to the accident. To recover compensation, the injured person must prove negligence on the part of the at-fault driver.
Can I recover compensation for my injuries if I am partially at fault for the accident?
Ohio follows a modified comparative negligence system. You can still recover compensation if you are partially at fault, but your compensation may be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. However, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you may be barred from recovering compensation.
What steps should I take after an accident to protect my rights when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company?
After an accident, it’s important to gather evidence, including taking photographs, exchanging information with the other driver, and contacting the police to create an accident report. Be cautious when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company and avoid making recorded statements without talking to me first.
What types of damages can I recover in a car accident case?
Medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other related costs. The extent of recoverable damages depends on the specific circumstances of your case.
Is it necessary to involve the police in all car accidents to determine liability?
It’s not always necessary to involve the police in minor accidents, but it is highly recommended. A police report can serve as valuable evidence in determining liability. In more serious accidents, it is often required to have law enforcement officers at the scene to investigate and create an official report.
Can I file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s insurance company directly?
Generally, you would not file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Instead, you would file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver personally. The insurance company would then typically step in to defend the at-fault driver and, if necessary, cover any damages awarded.
What should I do if I’ve been injured in an accident but the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance?
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you may still have options. You can consider filing a claim with your own insurance company if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Additionally, you may pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver personally.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a car accident in Ohio?
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit arising from a car accident is generally two years from the date of the accident. It’s crucial to initiate legal proceedings within this time frame to preserve your right to recover compensation for your injuries.
If you’ve been injured due to negligence, contact me today and I’ll Make Them Pay!®