Cincinnati Car Accident Lawyers
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 3.5 million people are seriously injured in car accidents every year, many of which could have been prevented if motorists made safety a top priority and avoided the following unsafe and reckless driving behaviors:
- Distracted driving: This continues to be a major cause of serious car accidents in Ohio and across the country. The most common cause of distracted driving is talking or texting on the phone while driving. Other examples include eating, setting up the GPS system, reaching for something in the back seat, or interacting with other passengers in the vehicle. Whatever the distraction, having one’s attention off the road for even a few seconds can have devastating consequences.
- Drowsy driving: Drowsiness can cause a range of impairments from reduced coordination to slower reaction times. Studies show that motorists who have been awake for 24 consecutive hours can experience the same impairments as someone who has a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent, which is higher than the legal limit.
- Speeding: Motorists often drive too fast if they are running late, impatient, or in a rush to their destination. When a motorist is driving too fast, it is more difficult to slow down in time to avoid an accident. Speeding-related accidents often result in serious injuries due to the extreme force of impact. Speeding is one of the top causes of car accidents.
- Ignoring traffic laws: All motorists are responsible for understanding and following the rules of the road, including yielding to oncoming traffic, stopping at red lights and stop signs, and observing the posted speed limit. A failure to follow the traffic laws can result in a serious collision involving severe injuries.
- Drunk driving: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 30 percent of all traffic-related fatalities are caused by motorists who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. These accidents are 100 percent avoidable if motorists make the responsible decision to not get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
- Reckless driving: Examples of reckless driving include tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, and cutting off other drivers. In extreme cases, reckless driving can escalate to road rage, which occurs when a motorist becomes enraged at another driver and commits a traffic offense that is meant to endanger the other driver. While reckless driving is a traffic offense, road rage is a criminal offense.
- Driver inexperience: Newly-licensed teen drivers are three times more likely to cause a car accident compared to older, more experienced drivers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Teen drivers often exceed the speed limit, are easily distracted by their phones and other passengers in the vehicle, and are more likely to be intimidated by certain driving conditions like busy highways and heavy traffic.
- Dangerous road conditions: There is an increased risk of car accidents when road conditions are poor. Potholes, missing road signs, overgrown trees or bushes that block road signs, malfunctioning traffic signals, and burnt-out street lights are a few examples of unsafe road conditions that can increase the risk of a car accident.
What Are Examples of Serious Injuries Caused by Car Accidents?
While you may walk away from a minor fender bender without a scratch, more serious accidents can cause severe injuries. In extreme cases, they can cause permanent physical or cognitive impairments or even fatalities. The following are examples of serious and catastrophic injuries that are caused by car accidents, and other motor vehicle accidents:
- Broken bones, including arms, legs, hands and ribs
- Burns and scarring injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Knee and hip injuries
- Loss of limb
- Neck and back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries
What Steps Should I Take Immediately Following a Car Accident?
The moments following a car accident can be chaotic and stressful, particularly if you are unsure how to handle the situation, or are in shock from serious injuries. By remaining calm and keeping the following steps in mind, you can handle the situation with as little stress as possible, and ensure that the negligent party is held liable for the accident:
- Call 911. Even if you did not suffer serious injuries, it is highly recommended that you call 911 and report the accident. Dispatch will send police and emergency medical technicians to the accident scene as soon as possible. The responding officer will fill out a police report.
- Check for injuries. After the initial shock of the accident, it is important that you check yourself and any other passengers in the vehicle to see if the accident caused any serious injuries. Often, the adrenaline rush after a traumatic event prevents car accident victims from immediately experiencing the symptoms of their injuries until hours or even days later. However, it is crucial that you are examined by a healthcare professional immediately following the accident. A failure to do so can have a negative impact on your claim down the road. The insurance company may claim that your injuries must not be serious if you did not think it was necessary to seek medical attention right away.
- Exchange information with the other motorist. If you and the other driver are able to get out of the car and move around safely after the accident, exchange information with the other driver including contact information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information. Do not apologize, even if you are just trying to be nice. This can be used against you as an admission of fault and can have a negative impact on your claim.
- Document the accident scene. Take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to your vehicle, the other vehicles involved, your injuries, the location of the accident, any debris on the road, and any other evidence that may help prove fault. If there are surveillance cameras on the traffic lights, or in any business or homes in the vicinity, obtain copies of the video footage at the times of the accident.
- Get witness statements. If there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide an official statement and ask for their contact information.
- Avoid social media. It is highly recommended that you avoid posting any pictures, or making any comments about the accident on social media. Insurance companies will access your social media accounts in an effort to find evidence that your injuries are not as serious as you claim, or that will help disprove your version of the events.
- Contact your insurance company. You will need to notify your insurance company that you were injured in a car accident. Keep in mind that insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they will resort to a range of tactics to avoid paying a costly settlement. Only provide the necessary information, and do not make any statements about the accident that could make it sound as if you were partially to blame for the accident.
What if a Car Accident Results in a Fatality?
Compounding the emotional devastation that comes with losing a loved one in a car accident is knowing that it could have been prevented if the other motorist had not been engaging in negligent behavior at the time of the accident. The surviving family members may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent driver. While this will not bring back your loved one, it will ensure that you and your family are compensated for the following:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Grief and mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of your loved one’s income
- Loss of services
Will I Be Entitled to Damages If I Was Partially At Fault for Causing the Crash?
Prior to 1980, Ohio followed the “contributory negligence” statute, which stated that an injured person could not recover any damages if he or she was even slightly responsible for causing the accident. Fortunately, Ohio no longer recognizes this statute. Since 1980, Ohio has recognized the principle of modified comparative fault, which states that car accident victims can hold the at-fault driver liable for their injuries, provided he or she is more than 50 percent at fault. However, the principle also states that the total recoverable amount of damages that the injured victim will be eligible to receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is assigned to him or her. For example, if you are injured in a car accident, and it is determined that you were 15 percent at fault, you will be eligible to recover 85 percent of the total damages.
Cincinnati Car Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Seek Compensation for Injured Clients
If you suffered a serious injury in a car accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, you are urged to contact the Cincinnati car accident lawyers at Wolterman Law Office at your earliest convenience. We will help you navigate the claims process, address all of your questions and concerns and ensure that you receive the help you need in this stressful time. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 513-488-1135 or contact us online. Our office is located in Loveland, Ohio where we service clients in the surrounding areas.