Your Columbus, Ohio, Personal Injury Lawyer for Motor Vehicle Accidents
Traffic accidents represent the first or second leading cause of preventable injury and death for people in all age groups in Ohio and across the United States. In Columbus, Ohio, and Franklin County alone, nearly 7,760 crashes resulted in injuries and fatalities just during 2014.
Ohio law requires every driver and operator of a motor vehicle to carry insurance to compensate victims of wrecks they create, but collecting on requests for the payment of doctor bills and other damages often proves difficult. Simply put, insurance companies make money from requiring policyholders to pay premiums and lose money on settling hurt people and suffering families’ claims. Insurers’ representatives will take any excuse to put the blame back on victims, from arguing that injuries already existed to accusing disabled or deceased people of intentionally acting in ways they knew would result in injury or death.
Insurance companies have lawyers they pay very well to protect corporate profits, which means that if you or a loved one needs to file an insurance claim following a motor vehicle accident, you also must have an experienced attorney from Leist Warner.
All Vehicles Are Not Cars
The somewhat awkward and legalistic term “motor vehicle” is used here because “car” does not come close to capturing the risks from negligent and reckless drivers. Consider this partial list of machines for which the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) or another state agency requires registration, training, and licensing:
- All-Purpose Vehicles—APVs are more often called ATVs, and the category includes four-wheelers, three-wheelers, and motorized carts. The BMV also lists off-road motorcycles, snowmobiles, and golf carts in this group of vehicles that rarely get used on roads but often become involved in wrecks that leave passengers or bystanders injured and dead.
- Bicycles—While bikes do not have motors, they are defined as vehicles suitable for use on surface roads throughout Ohio. According to the state’s Department of Public Safety, during 2013 slightly more than 900 residents got seriously hurt or killed in wrecks involving bikes and other vehicles. Anyone hurt on a bike because a driver ran a stop sign, failed to move over when approaching from behind, or simply did not check his or her blind spots while backing out of a driveway could likely benefit from speaking with a Columbus auto accident lawyer at Leist Warner.
- Mopeds—Especially in a major city like Columbus, car and truck drivers must be on the lookout for these two-wheelers with top speeds of 25-30 mph. Road use is restricted to individuals over the age of 14, which can create risks at the same time as reducing them since such young riders may not always act cautiously and responsibly.
- Scooters and Mini Bikes—Faster than mopeds and smaller than motorcycles, these two-wheeled vehicles must be operated with great care and given all the consideration of regular roadworthy motorbikes.
- Motorcycles—Motorcycle riders are particularly prone to getting hit by other drivers and suffering debilitating and fatal injuries. The size of motorbikes makes seeing them and judging their speed and distance difficult. Then, without sidewalls, front and rear crumple zones, or seatbelts; bikers have few protections other than the attention and consideration of other people on the road. Sadly, insurance companies tend to work overtime to deny claims from motorcyclists, often arguing that riders were weaving or speeding to such an extent that a driver could not help but hit them. Countering that legal tactic often requires help from a Columbus motorcycle accident lawyer at Leist Warner.
- Commercial Vehicles—This category of motor vehicles includes everything from 18-wheelers and buses to farm vehicles and industrial mowers. The size, weight, and sometimes limited maneuverability of commercial vehicles makes driving them safely a challenge that their operators have high legal and civil obligations to meet.
A Note on Boats
Boating accidents also cause numerous injuries and deaths in Ohio. In order to make lakes and rivers less dangerous, the state require anyone operating a watercraft powered by a motor that produces 10 horsepower or more to complete a training course or pass a safety test before taking the helm. The requirement covers most personal watercraft such as Jet Skis and Sea-Doos. Also, boating while intoxicated is treated as seriously as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and failing to observe posted speed limits in marked boat lanes can draw the same penalties as committing moving violations on a road or highway.
Pedestrians at Peril
People on foot face many of the same dangers as motorcyclists and bike riders–easy for drivers to miss when scanning intersections, unprotected by several tons of metal, and not always respected as legitimate users of the road. Ohio law gives pedestrians the right of way when they stay in crosswalks and cross at corners and/or with a facing green light. Similarly, individuals on sidewalks, in medians, on interstate shoulders, and standing in yards should feel free from worrying about getting hit and hurt. Sadly, several thousand pedestrians fall victim to negligent and reckless drivers each year.
It All Comes Down to Negligence and Recklessness
Receiving compensation from the person responsible for hitting and hurting you or killing your loved one requires showing that he or she acted negligently or recklessly. “Negligence,” under Ohio law, means failing to exercise the care and caution needed to avoid harming someone else or damaging property. “Reckless” behavior involves displaying intentional disregard for safety. One way to understand the difference is to think about drunk driving typically being considered a reckless act, while getting distracted by a GPS device is usually treated as negligent.
Proving negligence or recklessness is not always easy, especially if a case resulting from a motor vehicle accident goes to trial. Jurors and judges asked to consider physical evidence and witness testimony often arrive at unexpected conclusions. The best strategy a crash victim has for establishing someone else is at fault for an accident is working closely with a Columbus auto accident lawyer at Leist Warner who knows how to collect, evaluate, and present facts about an incident that few can reasonably doubt.
Securing representation from a skilled Columbus auto accident attorney at Leist Warner is doubly essential if some questions can be raised regarding exactly who bears principal responsibility for causing a crash. Ohio courts operate under the rule of contributory fault. Also called contributory negligence, this legal principle allows accident victims to hold people and companies accountable for being more responsible for harming them. Insurance settlements and damage awards may get lowered if a victim is found to be, say, 30 percent at fault for his or her injury, but the person or organization found to be 70 percent at fault can still be ordered to make compensation.
Ask a Personal Injury Attorney in Columbus, Ohio, For Help With Your Motor Vehicle Accident Case
Following a serious or fatal motor vehicle accident, you should contact a Columbus wrongful death attorney or personal injury lawyer at Leist Warner. You will face insurance company attorneys, so you can only benefit from having your own legal ally and champion. Establishing liability, determining what constitutes fair compensation for fixing your own car, covering medical expenses, and making up for wages lost while recovering can go easier when working with a law firm that only has your best interest at heart. Similarly, ensuring legitimate claims for insurance payments and damage awards do not get denied for illegitimate reasons may require the kind of expertise only a long-serving personal injury and wrongful death lawyer possesses.
Let Leist Warner help. We offer no-cost case consultations to all new potential clients, so call us today at (614) 222-1000 or fill out this form.