Like other types of personal injury cases, auto accidents focus on negligence. Did some fail to behave as expected and did that negligence lead to, or contribute to the accident?
Calling these incidents “accidents” seems to imply that no-one was at fault, or that the incident just occurred. Most “accidents” are the result of bad decision-making on someone’s part, possibly by more than one party. The possibility of multiple sources of negligence contributing to an incident where people and/or property were harmed can make auto accident cases complicated.
Responsibilities of Drivers
Drivers are expected to meet basic standards of care when operating a motor vehicle. Among the duties expected of drivers are:
- Maintaining a reasonable speed that is appropriate to the conditions of traffic, the road, visibility, and traffic.
- Staying vigilant for other vehicles, pedestrians, and potential hazards.
- Keeping the car under control.
- Maintaining the car in safe operating order.
- Following motor vehicle law.
- Drivers may violate these standards of care may include:
- Violating traffic laws
- Failing to follow traffic signals
- Failing to maintain the vehicle in safe operating order
- Driving aggressively
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while distracted by activities like texting
When a driver violates motor vehicle law while involved in an auto accident, they will be presumed negligent by a court. Instead of being presumed “innocent,” the onus will be on the driver to demonstrate that they were not negligent.
Other Negligent Parties in Auto Accident Cases
Beyond the involved drivers, the negligence of other parties may also contribute to auto accidents. Possible other negligent parties may include:
- Trucking Companies if it employs unqualified drivers, fails to conduct background checks and/or drug and alcohol tests, fails to follow the laws governing their industry, or fails to maintain their trucks in safe operating order.
- Vehicle or Vehicle-Parts Manufacturers if it designs/employs defective parts or assembles them incorrectly, or if it fails to recall defective or potentially dangerous parts in a timely manner.
- Government Entities if it designs dangerous roads or traffic signals or allows them to become dangerous through lack of maintenance or failure to clear ice or snow.
Comparative Negligence in Ohio Auto Accidents
Ohio operates under the doctrine of comparative negligence. When the negligence of multiple drivers contributes to an accident, the proportion that a driver’s is responsible for the cost of the accident is generally equal to the proportion his or her negligence contributed to the accident.
If a single party is more than 50 percent negligent – which is to say more than 50 percent at fault for an accident – that person may not recover damages from the other parties to the accident.
If a person’s negligence is less that 50 percent, they may recover damages from the other parties. The amount a party may recover is reduced by a percentage equal to the percentage that party was negligent. For example, if a court determines that one Party A was 40 percent negligent in an accident and Party B was 60 percent negligent, Party B would be prohibited from recovering damages from Party A, and Party A would be entitled to recover 60 percent of total damages from the accident from Party B.
The determination of percentages of negligence can quickly become complicated. For victims who have suffered catastrophic injuries or families who have lost loved ones to wrongful deaths through auto accidents, the stakes of these calculations are very high.
Victims of auto accidents need qualified, experienced legal representation to protect their interests. The Cleveland car accident lawyers at The Becker Law Firm are here to support you during this difficult time and provide the dedicated representation you deserve. Call now to schedule a complimentary consultation!