Driving is a necessity for many Ohioans. There is a chance you'll be involved in a motor vehicle accident one day.
While this may never happen, perhaps it already has. An accident could have occurred even if you're a responsible motorist. Maybe you were injured in a car accident because someone else was negligent.
If so, you may be eligible to recover compensation for certain losses resulting from your accident. Consider reviewing your case with an Ohio car accident attorney, and they can inform you of your legal options.
How an Ohio Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
Ohio's approach to motor vehicle accident cases in which victims deserve compensation is based on the fault (or "tort") model. In Ohio, when drivers or pedestrians are harmed in motor vehicle accidents resulting from the negligence of others, they can seek compensation for losses such as medical bills by filing claims to collect from the negligent party's insurance.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are businesses, not charities. This isn't meant to discourage you from pursuing the compensation you deserve. It's meant to encourage you to seek legal representation before filing a claim.
An Ohio car accident lawyer can improve your chances of arriving at a fair settlement with the insurance company. If you need to file a lawsuit, having an Ohio car accident attorney on your side will help you navigate the court system.
The specific ways a lawyer may handle your case can vary, depending on the circumstances. Generally, an Ohio car accident attorney can:
- Investigate your accident to identify the negligent parties who caused it
- Interview witnesses, review photos/footage of the accident scene, and gather other forms of evidence to strengthen your case
- Review police reports
- Review all your compensable losses to determine approximately how much compensation you may deserve
- Handle all correspondence with the insurance company
- Negotiate for a fair settlement
Being injured in a car accident is a traumatic experience. Focusing on your recovery should be your top priority in the aftermath of an accident.
A qualified Ohio car accident lawyer can handle your claim or lawsuit while you address your other needs at this time.
They'll also minimize your confusion throughout the process by answering your questions. Odds are, this is the first time you've had to pursue compensation after an accident. A lawyer can help you navigate this new experience.
Ohio consists of large cities, small towns, a major national forest, and distinct geographical features. It's not a state where the average resident can exclusively use public transportation for their travel needs.
Owning a motor vehicle is a requirement for many Ohioans. In a state where cars play a major role in the everyday lives of citizens, accidents can occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, fatal motor vehicle accidents in Ohio resulted in about $17 million in medical costs and $1.67 billion in work loss costs.
Data also shows that car accidents resulting in loss of life or serious harm are also on the rise throughout Ohio. Various factors account for this unfortunate trend. For instance, widespread smartphone ownership has yielded an increase in accidents resulting from distracted driving. Experts also believe drivers stopped being as cautious as they once were during the COVID-19 pandemic. They cite data showing drivers during the pandemic were more likely to speed and drive while intoxicated. They were also less likely to wear seatbelts.
You can do your part to push back against this trend by heeding traffic laws and remaining alert on the road. Sadly, you can't prevent others from negligently causing accidents.
What you can do is seek compensation if a negligent motorist injures you. An Ohio car accident attorney can help.
Not all car accidents are random events with no one to blame. Motor vehicle collisions are often the result of someone's actions or carelessness.
In Ohio, if you're harmed in an accident resulting from the negligence of another party (typically a motorist with whom you're sharing the road), you can file a claim or lawsuit to pursue financial compensation.
An Ohio car accident attorney can help you recover what you deserve by establishing these four critical elements of a negligence claim:
- Duty: All drivers have a duty of care to other motorists and pedestrians. They must take steps to guard against causing accidents that may harm others. This involves obeying traffic laws, paying attention to their surroundings, and generally exercising caution behind the wheel.
- Breach: A breach happens when a driver or other such party doesn't fulfill their reasonable duty of care. Sometimes, this can be an egregious or obvious breach, such as driving while heavily intoxicated. In other instances, it can be less overt. For instance, a driver who fails to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them may be committing a breach.
- Cause: Merely showing that a driver is guilty of a breach isn't necessarily enough to show a survivor deserves compensation. It must also be shown that the negligent party's breach caused you to sustain injuries or losses.
- Damages: "Damages" are compensable losses you might incur as a result of your car accident. For example, if your injuries require treatment, you may be compensated for your medical bills. If your injuries prevent you from working until you make a full recovery, you could be compensated for lost wages. In some instances, an Ohio car accident lawyer can even show that you deserve to receive compensation for such non-economic losses as the physical and mental pain you might endure after a collision.
It's worth noting that the negligent party responsible for causing a motor vehicle accident isn't always a driver. There are instances when other parties are at fault. Consider the following potential scenarios:
- A careless pedestrian steps in front of your vehicle without looking. This forces you to swerve. You may thus end up harming yourself in an effort to avoid harming a pedestrian.
- You approach a stop sign or obstruction and apply your brakes accordingly. However, the manufacturer of your brakes negligently overlooked a defect. This defect prevents you from stopping in time to avoid an accident.
- You're involved in an accident at an intersection because you and other motorists didn't know who had the right-of-way. This confusion might have been the result of a missing traffic sign. Despite knowing the traffic sign had been damaged or removed, the local government agency responsible for replacing it failed to do so in a timely manner.
It's not always clear whose negligence caused a motor vehicle accident. This is where an Ohio car accident lawyer can help navigate the system for you. They have the resources and expertise needed to investigate your accident and determine who's liable.
Negligence 'Per Se' in Ohio
Proving a motorist or other such party negligently caused your accident requires proving you were harmed because the careless party failed to exercise caution in the manner that a reasonable person would have when your accident occurred. How challenging it will be for an Ohio car accident attorney to prove negligence in your case will depend on certain critical factors.
Whether a law was broken is one example. In fact, under the legal doctrine of negligence per se, your lawyer doesn't actually need to prove the party who caused your accident was negligent if they broke the law at the time of the accident. They will essentially be considered negligent if they were breaking the law at the time of the collision. In this scenario, your Ohio car accident lawyer merely needs to show that their failure to obey the law caused you harm.
For instance, under the legal doctrine of negligence per se, if you were involved in an accident with a drunk driver, the fact that the driver was intoxicated means they are immediately deemed negligent. This simplifies the process of building a case. Now, your lawyer doesn't need to prove negligence. They need to prove you were harmed because the other motorist was intoxicated.
Of course, not all cases are this simple. It's possible for someone to be considered negligent without having clearly violated a law. This is where an Ohio car accident lawyer can help navigate the system for you.
Comparative Fault in Ohio
Accidents sometimes occur because multiple parties are negligent. There are even instances when a victim's own carelessness may contribute to their accident or the severity of their injuries.
For example, you're stopped at a red light. The light turns green, and you proceed through the intersection when a speeding driver runs their red light and collides with your vehicle.
The negligence per se doctrine applies here. The other driver was violating two traffic laws when your accident occurred. Therefore, they may be considered negligent.
However, maybe it's shown that you were checking your phone when the light turned green. Although you put your phone down when you saw the light had changed, you didn't stop to confirm if anyone was approaching when you began to drive.
It could thus be argued your accident could have been avoided if you'd been paying closer attention to the road. In this scenario, to an extent, your own negligence might have caused your accident.
Ohio has a contributory fault (also known as comparative fault) statute to address these types of situations. Under this law, an accident victim still has the right to pursue compensation even if their own negligence played a role in their accident, as long as they weren't more than 50% responsible for their accident occurring.
However, the amount of money a victim may recover will be reduced based on the extent to which they are to blame for their accident or the severity of their injuries. For example, a victim might have been eligible to recover $10,000 if none of the blame for their accident rested on them. It's instead determined they are 30% responsible for their accident. This means they can recover a maximum of $7,000. They can't recover anything if they are more than 50% responsible for the accident occurring.
Be aware that properly assigning a percentage value to the amount of responsibility someone may have for their accident can be complex. It's possible an insurance company may attempt to pay you less than you're owed when you file a claim, suggesting your own negligence contributed to your accident to a greater degree than it actually may have.
Ohio's capital city is also its most populous. According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2020, Columbus has a population of about 906,528 residents.
Information regarding how common accidents are in Columbus isn't available. Instead, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) tracks crash data by county. OSHP offers an interactive Crash Dashboard providing data regarding motor vehicle accidents across all Ohio counties through 2022.
Most of Columbus is in Franklin County. Portions of the city limits also extend to Fairfield and Delaware Counties.
In 2017, OSHP recorded 35,800 motor vehicle accidents in Franklin County. About 612 of those accidents resulted in serious injury.
OSHP's dashboard indicates the top three crash routes in Franklin County are IR-270, US-40, and IR-71. All of these pass through Columbus. This fact, along with the city's high population, suggests many of Franklin County's annual motor vehicle accidents occur in Columbus.
Despite being the second most populous city in Ohio, Cleveland's population is significantly less than that of Columbus. U.S. Census Bureau data indicates its population was 367,991 in 2020.
In Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, a total of 33,341 motor vehicle accidents were recorded by OSHP in 2017. Victims sustained serious injuries in 641 of those collisions.
The top three crash routes in Cuyahoga County in 2017 were IR-90, IR-480, and US-6.
IR-90 and US-6 run through substantial portions of Cleveland. IR-480 also runs through small portions of the city. This indicates accidents may be relatively common in Cleveland compared to other municipalities in Cuyahoga County.
With 309,317 residents in 2020, Cincinnati has a slightly lower population than Cleveland.
Cincinnati is in Hamilton County. OSHP data indicates approximately 32,537 accidents occurred in Hamilton County in 2017. Victims sustained serious but nonfatal injuries in 497 of those accidents.
The top crash routes were IR-75, IR-71, and IR-275.
Both IR-75 and IR-71 run through Cincinnati, and IR-275 briefly crosses through Cincinnati.
Toledo had a population of 270,871 in 2020. It's in Lucas County, where 14,204 accidents were recorded by OSHP in 2017. Victims were left seriously injured as a result of 294 of those collisions.
Lucas County's top crash routes are SR-2, US-24, and US-20. All these routes cross through Toledo.
The city is also home to the University of Toledo and various tourist attractions. Thus, in comparison to other Lucas County towns and cities, Toledo may have a high rate of traffic accidents.
Toledo already has a high population. Every day, it attracts guests, students, and those who work in the city but resides elsewhere.
This can result in crowded roads. The more vehicles on the road, the more chances there are for accidents to occur.
Akron is currently the fifth-largest Ohio city in terms of population. In 2020, Akron was home to approximately 190,469 people.
In 2017, OSHP recorded 15,883 accidents in Summit County, where Akron is located. Victims were seriously injured in 286 collisions that year.
The primary traffic crash routes in Summit County are IR-77, SR-8, and IR-76.
You've likely guessed that all three run through Akron. You might have also noticed that Summit County saw more traffic accidents than Lucas County in 2017. This is the case despite Toledo having a higher population than Akron.
Per the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2021, Lucas County's population is 429,191 residents. Summit County's population was 537,633 in 2021. Thus, the accident rates per capita are actually fairly similar in both counties.
All that said, accidents can happen anywhere in Ohio. You may be able to recover financial compensation if you've been injured because another party was careless.
Nothing can change the past, but securing financial compensation for your medical bills and related losses can ease your current and future burdens.
An Ohio car accident lawyer can assist you in many ways if you seek compensation. They can walk you through every step of the process and handle tasks like filing paperwork and corresponding with insurance adjusters. When an Ohio car accident lawyer is handling your case, you have more freedom to focus on your recovery.
If you've been hurt in an accident, pursue justice by reviewing your case with an Ohio car accident attorney. A qualified lawyer will help seek fair compensation on your behalf. While they handle your case, you can focus on your recovery.