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Seconds of Driver Distraction Can Lead to an Ohio Auto Accident

Life gets busy and sometimes that means running late for appointments and meetings. A text message or a quick call let others know that traffic is bad or you took a wrong turn and are 15 minutes away. But any time a driver's eyes and attention are distracted away from the road, the odds of an Akron car accident increase exponentially.

The number of accidents caused by distracted driving has been increasing. In February, a 30-year-old Ohio man trying to read a text message went off the road, overcorrected, crossed the centerline and hit an oncoming Jeep. The damage was minor, but the accident could have been much worse.

Ten seconds can prove deadly

A 2010 crash near Youngstown, Ohio, illustrates just how serious the consequences of one bad decision can be. A businessman nearing retirement started walking to lose some extra pounds. On one of his morning walks along a local highway, a 19-year-old driver did not see him walking in his reflective gear and hit him. He later died from internal injuries sustained in the accident.

The family of the man did not learn the cause of the accident until the driver admitted she took her eyes off the road for 10 seconds to look at a text message on her cellphone. The driver was charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide and spent 45 days in jail. As part of her sentence, she also had to speak at schools about the dangers of texting and driving.

At the time of the accident, texting while driving was not against the law in Ohio. In fact, the ban does not go into law until March 1, 2013.

Texting ban is a step in the right direction

The new texting ban is a start toward reducing the number of distracted driving accidents occurring on Ohio roads. The law is a secondary offense, however, which means that if an officer sees an adult texting behind the wheel, he or she cannot pull them over solely for that violation.

Civil court remedies

Another way to bring change is through the civil court system. The family of a person who dies because of the negligence of another in a fatal car accident can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In a wrongful death action, the family must prove each of the following:

  • The existence of a duty owed to the loved one
  • Breach of that duty
  • Proximate causation between the breach of duty and the death

In a common scenario, the duty might be as simple as to drive responsibly and stay within a lane of traffic. A breach of that duty might occur when distraction causes the driver to swerve. If while swerving, the driver hits another car and the other driver dies, there could be a cause of action.

When an accident takes the life of a loved one, it is a tumultuous time and there may be many unanswered questions about what happened. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss whether remedies are available.

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