Unfortunately, distracted drivers, such as those texting while driving, cause accidents every day in Ohio.
The victims of a distracted driving accident may suffer substantial property damage, severe medical injuries, and in some cases, death.
In 2021, distracted driving violations occurred in every Ohio county and amounted to 11,624 violations.
We can’t control the behaviors of drivers around us. Despite your vigilance while driving and all your practices to travel safely on roadways, you may suffer an accident due to a distracted driver. When this happens, you have a right to recover compensation for your losses.
An experienced Ohio car accident lawyer understands what it takes to file a texting while driving accident lawsuit in Ohio and can help you obtain just compensation.
Ohio Laws Regarding Texting While Driving
Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.204 makes it illegal to use an electronic wireless communications device—such as a smartphone—to send, write, or read a text message while operating a vehicle. The law applies to any roads open to the public and includes all cell phones and laptop computers.
There are exceptions to this law. For example, if a driver is experiencing an emergency, they may use a cell phone to contact emergency services.
A violation of the Ohio texting while driving laws often leads to an accident lawsuit when injuries and damages result. However, don’t pursue a lawsuit alone. Retaining a qualified personal injury attorney helps you obtain the compensation you need to cover your losses.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Texting While Driving Claim?
Many car accidents result from the negligent conduct of the at-fault driver. However, establishing negligence is complex and requires the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. To prove negligence, you must show the four elements of negligence.
All drivers on the road owe a duty of care to drive safely. All drivers owe a duty of care to obey all laws about the operation of their vehicle.
A breach occurs when a driver fails to operate their vehicle reasonably. For example, a driver that violates Ohio’s driving laws by texting while driving would arguably constitute a breach of this duty.
The driver’s failure to fulfill their duty must have caused your injuries. In other words, the driver’s behavior of texting while driving caused the accident and your injuries.
The breach of duty must cause the victim to sustain losses—otherwise called damages—for their claim to succeed. If no losses occur, you won’t have a compensable case.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se literally means “negligence in and of itself.” A person commits negligence per se if they break a law designed to protect against the very damages caused by the defendant’s conduct. In other words, if Mary breaks a law and causes damage to Pat, Mary has committed negligence per se.
There is no need to prove negligence in such a case: it is presumed because Mary broke the law. When a driver causes a car accident due to texting and driving, this conduct directly violates Ohio laws and is, therefore, negligence per se.
However, it is not easy to prove negligence per se without supporting evidence. For example, if a police officer responds to the scene and cites the driver for texting while driving, your attorney may use this citation as evidence of negligence per se.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
One factor may limit your recoverable damages against an at-fault driver. Under Ohio Revised Code Section 2315.33, a court may reduce a plaintiff’s damage award by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault.
The statute also permits a jury to completely bar a plaintiff from recovering damages if they are determined to bear more than 50% of the blame for the accident.
Therefore, while comparative negligence may not wholly bar you from recovery, it may impact your compensatory award.
For example, let’s say the at-fault driver was responsible for an accident amounting to $300,000 in damages. If the plaintiff is determined to be 20% at fault for causing the accident, compensation is reduced to $240,000, or 80% of $300,000.
Statute of Limitations
Ohio law also provides a two-year statute of limitations for filing car accident claims. This means that you have two years to file your lawsuit from the date of your accident. Failure to do so may bar you from recovery. No matter how strong your case, if you miss this two-year deadline, the statute of limitations will bar recovery.
Aaron Bensinger, lead attorney at Balyeat, Leahy, Daley, Miller & Bensinger, LLC., understands the stress you may be under after suffering injuries in a car accident. Establishing fault is the key to obtaining just compensation for your losses.
Aaron Bensinger won’t hesitate to take your case to trial and is seasoned in the art of negotiation. With extensive experience representing personal injury victims, our firm knows how best to help you. We can give you the answers and assistance you need to move forward.
Contact us today for a free case review!