If you have been in a car crash or witnessed one, you may have asked, “who was at fault?” In some cases, it is pretty clear. In other cases, it may not be so clear. There are some common misconceptions regarding Ohio law.
The first question to ask is, were you rear-ended? A rear-end collision is the most common type of motor vehicle collision. In fact, thirty-three (33) percent of all traffic crashes are rear-ended collisions.
Why is this important? Ohio law provides that, “no person shall drive any motor vehicle at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.” A violation of this statute is commonly known as ACDA. In other words, you must travel at a speed that will allow you to slow down or stop for a vehicle in front of you that slows down or stops. It does not matter if it is icy or rainy or cloudy. It is your responsibility to travel at a safe speed given the conditions of the road.
Because of this law, it is almost always the fault of the driver who has rear-ended the other. In a civil suit, the legal doctrine of negligence per se applies to a violation of the ACDA statute. If the other driver pleads guilty to an ACDA violation by paying their ticket or admits these facts, they have just admitted that they were negligent or at fault as a matter of law. It is very difficult to dispute an ACDA violation and negligence or fault in a rear-end collision case.
We say “some fault,” because more than one driver can be negligent or at fault for a wreck. Ohio is a “comparative fault” state. In Ohio, you can only recover for your injuries if you are not more than 50% at fault for an accident. If you share fault 50-50, then the other driver only has to pay 50% of your damages. If the other driver was 90% at fault and you were 10% at fault, then the other driver is responsible for 90% of your damages.
In most rear-end cases, the insurance company will “accept liability” for the accident. Meaning that they admit that their insured was negligent or at fault for the accident. Don’t stop worrying yet though. Even if you were rear-ended, that does not mean the insurance company will agree to settle your claim for fair value. There are plenty of other ways for the insurance company to dispute your claims. It is important that you retain a good personal injury lawyer to guide you through the claims process, for more information contact us today.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts Annual Report https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest
Ohio Revised Code 4511.21 http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.21v2
Rimer v. Rockwell Intern. Corp., 641 F.2d 450 (6th Cir. 1981)