Jami S. Oliver voted 2024 “Lawyer of the Year”, Columbus, OH

Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs by Best Lawyers in America

Jami S. Oliver also named Best Lawyers 2024 in three areas of practice:
Litigation – Labor & Employment, Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs, and Product Liability Law – Plaintiffs

Establishing Liability In Car Crash Claims

| Car Accident

Accident fault and legal liability are not the same thing. Fault is like a halftime score, and liability is like a final score. Insurance or police investigators use the facts immediately available at the scene, and nothing else, to assign fault. Liability is a subsequent determination based on all facts, not just the ones at the scene, as well as any applicable legal principles.

So, if an official said you were at fault for a wreck, a Columbus car accident attorney may still be able to obtain compensation in court. You don’t know until a lawyer evaluates your case. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Negligence Per Se

Sometimes, liability is straightforward. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate a safety law, and
  • That violation causes injury.

Sometimes, if the tortfeasor violates a speeding or other non-penal safety law, negligence per se is only a presumption of negligence. In such cases, a Columbus personal injury attorney must present additional evidence to conclusively establish liability.

This doctrine only applies if an emergency responder issues a citation. Traffic citations are common in DUI accidents. Most law enforcement agencies have mandatory DUI arrest policies. These citations are rare in other cases, even if the victim was killed.

The reasons are practical and philosophical. When emergency responders arrive at accident scenes, they must frequently spend all their time securing the scene and tending to injured victims. There’s simply no time to conduct a traffic ticket investigation. Furthermore, car wrecks are civil matters, as far as many emergency responders are concerned. They’re content to let the Columbus personal injury attorneys sort things out.

Ordinary Negligence

Since negligence per se is usually unavailable, most injury claims rely on the ordinary negligence doctrine, which has four basic elements:

  • Duty: Most noncommercial drivers in Ohio have a duty of reasonable care. They must be at their best, mentally, physically, and otherwise, when they get behind the wheel. As they drive, they must avoid accidents when possible and always drive defensively.
  • Breach: A breach of duty is a lack of care. Most kinds of aggressive driving, like speeding, and impaired operation, like driving while intoxicated, are a breach of duty. Aggressive driving, impaired driving, and other driver errors cause about 98 percent of the car wrecks in Franklin County.
  • Cause: To obtain compensation, a victim/plaintiff must prove factual and legal cause. Factual cause is but-for causation. Bad weather contributes to crashes, but driver error causes them. Legal cause is foreseeability. If Tim taps Julie’s bumper, causing her airbag to explode, the manufacturer may be legally responsible for Julie’s injury, but since it wasn’t foreseeable, Tim is off the hook.
  • Damages: Typically, victims must sustain a tangible injury, no matter how slight, to obtain compensation. If this injury is property damage only, another legal theory, like negligent infliction of emotional distress, may be available.

In both kinds of negligence cases, circumstantial evidence usually includes the police accident report, witness statements, and medical bills.

Work With a Savvy Franklin County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Columbus, contact the Oliver Law Office. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.  Call us now at (614)-220-9100 or contact us online to schedule your case evaluation and to learn more about your legal options.



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