Every day, hundreds of people in the state of Ohio are injured in motor vehicle accidents. It does not matter how careful you are. When you share the road with other vehicles, another person's negligence can cause a serious crash, resulting in severe injuries or even death. The question is - what are your legal options if you were a victim in a car crash and you want to recover your economic losses from the fault party? Should you try to reach an agreement with the negligent driver? Should you try and file a car accident claim on your own? For questions like these, you should reach out to an experienced auto accident lawyer in Columbus Ohio from Babin Law.
We understand that you are worried about the idea of hiring an auto accident lawyer. That means paying expensive fees, even starting with the initial consultation. Actually, you do not have to pay any advance fees to hire a personal injury lawyer. We work on a contingency fee basis - if we take your case, you don't have to pay any fees. We will collect our fees out of the total compensation we win for you in negotiations with the at-fault driver's insurance company or at the end of a personal injury lawsuit.
Proving a Personal Injury Case Is Not an Easy Job
Although Ohio laws are clear on the right to seek compensation if you were injured by someone else's negligence, proving your case is a different story. A personal injury case is founded on four key elements:
- the existence of a duty of care
- the breach of duty resulting in the accident
- the accident is the direct cause of your injuries
- your injuries caused you economic losses
When it comes to a car crash, traffic laws determine a duty of care for any user of the road towards other users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other drivers. However, proving that a type of accident (be it a pedestrian accident, a truck accident, or a passenger vehicle accident) was caused by a person's negligence is a complex matter. It requires an experienced auto accident lawyer to identify the responsible party, collect the necessary evidence and build a solid case to support the demand for fair compensation.
What Types of Negligence Cause a Car Accident?
The most common type of negligence behind the wheel is distracted driving. And the most frequent example of a distracted driver is when someone texts and drives. Any moment of not being fully focused on driving can cause a crash. Looking at the phone screen and tapping a message with one hand means that the driver is not in full control of their vehicle for more than 10 seconds. This is enough to swerve into the opposite lane into oncoming traffic.
However, distracted driving is not the only type of negligence leading to a serious or fatal crash. An auto accident lawyer in Columbus, Ohio knows that there is a wide range of negligent behaviors that result in a crash with accident victims:
A reckless driver fails to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of them, changes lanes frequently, and makes unsafe turns. Whether they are in a great hurry or aggressive drivers, the result is usually the same: they cause a crash with severe accident injuries. In many cases, an experienced personal injury attorney can find that the respective driver had a history of traffic law violations on their record.
Drinking and driving is illegal in most US states. In Ohio, the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%. For drivers under the age of 21, the limit is 0.02%. However, in our state it is illegal to consume alcohol until you are 21 years old. Despite these legal requirements, many drivers start on a journey with a BAC above the legal limit, after having several drinks.
A drunk driver is an impaired driver. Their brain cannot process visual and audio messages correctly and the person has delayed reactions to imminent danger. This is why drunk drivers cause so many terrible car accidents and motorcycle accidents, leaving many injured people with life-changing impairments and disabilities.
Lack of sleep is similar to being under the influence of alcohol when you drive a car. This is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Found in a study. In separate research, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 10% of all car crashes are caused by driver fatigue.
In our experience as car accident attorneys, truck drivers are more likely to cause head-on collisions and other types of crashes due to lack of sleep. Truck companies give them very short deadlines to make deliveries, so many truckers skip the mandatory breaks set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to the rules, a truck driver can be behind the wheel for maximum 11 hours after 10 hours off duty. In reality, many drivers exceed this time of active duty, sometimes with catastrophic consequences for other drivers and their passengers.
How Much Money Can You Recover from the At-Fault Driver?
A car crash attorney knows that you are allowed to recover your economic damages, as well as non-economic damages - a form of compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and mental anguish. In special cases, when the driver acted with gross negligence in causing your accident, the jury can award you punitive damages at the end of a personal injury lawsuit.
Even if you, the accident victim, know all these, it is very difficult to estimate all your eligible losses correctly from the hospital bed or while undergoing physical therapy. You may be aware of a part of your medical expenses and lost wages. However, there are many other factors to consider, such as:
- how long till you make a full recovery?
- will you be able to return to work?
- will you need life care and other forms of assistance with activities of daily living?
- will you need assistive devices?
All these aspects may lead to other medical costs, loss of earning capacity, and other economic losses. During the difficult time you are going through while recovering from your injuries, it is difficult to think clearly and defend your case in front of an implacable and uncaring insurance adjuster.
What an Auto Accident Lawyer Can Do to Win Your Case
So, how exactly do you benefit by hiring an attorney to help you file an accident claim or a car accident lawsuit? The lawyer will make sure that your case is airtight before they start negotiating with an insurance carrier. To this end, the lawyer will:
1. Investigate Your Accident
Before filing auto accident claims, attorneys will look over the police report prepared at the accident scene. They will look over various pieces of evidence - photos, videos, CCTV footage. They will find and talk to eyewitnesses. If necessary, the auto accident lawyer will resort to expert witnesses, such as an accident reconstructionist, to understand exactly how catastrophic accidents occurred and who is responsible for them.
2. Evaluate Your Losses
Next, a qualified attorney will start calculating the damages you suffered:
- medical care expenses
- property damage
- pocket expenses
- lost wages.
At the same time, the attorney will look over your medical records and talk to your doctors to establish beyond any doubt that your severe injuries were caused by the car accident. When these elements are clearly established, the lawyer will prepare your demand for accident compensation and file it with the other driver's insurance company.
3. Determine Your Proportion of Fault for the Accident
The state of Ohio uses the contributory fault principle in personal injury cases. This means that you must be less than 50% at fault for your crash in order to be eligible to demand compensation. Also, the final compensation amount you will receive will be reduced from the total value of your damages by your percentage of fault.
Knowing this is very important to give you an idea of how much money you will actually recover. It is also useful information for the lawyer during negotiations, as the other party will try to state that your proportion of fault was higher.
Bring Your Case to an Auto Accident Lawyer in Columbus, Ohio!
At Babin Law, we know how to handle car accident claims. We have won many cases for other people like you, who were severely injured by someone else's negligence. We know how to negotiate with insurance companies and push for the maximum compensation the injury victim deserves.
We encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with us as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for legal action in personal injury cases is 2 years in Ohio, so you do not have a lot of time available if you need to file a car accident lawsuit to obtain compensatory damages. Get in touch with a legal team with extensive experience now: 833-SURVIVORS!