We are nearing the height of Northern Ohio's travel season this year.
Sports fishermen and sports fans will join vacationers to the Lake Erie islands and Cedar Point. Others will travel to visit friends and family. Never-ending road construction will add to the travel headaches. The summer heat will inflame tempers.
Aggressive driving and road rage will be real risks that should not be ignored. Drivers Ed recently published road rage and aggressive driving statistics that should be a reality check for Ohio and Pennsylvania drivers. Road rage typically ends with threats or assault and is a criminal offense. But aggressive driving behaviors can get many of us in trouble behind the wheel.
For instance, more than half of all drivers consider speeding to be normal. Those who speed also often tailgate, switch lanes without signaling and use aggressive braking and acceleration. All of these are aggressive driving traits that reduce reaction time and increase your risk of being in a traffic "accident."
Personal Injury and Ohio Car Accident Liability
Nearly all of these "accidents" are caused by avoidable driver error. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports about 94 percent of traffic collisions are caused by human error. Drivers owe a duty of care to operate their vehicle in a safe manner so as to avoid injuring other persons or property. When dangerous driving behavior results in a collision, victims can recover damages from the at-fault driver and his insurance company.
C.S. 2315.19 Ohio Revised Code outlines compensatory damages in tort actions, which is the area of law most often used to pursue damages in the wake of an Ohio car accident. Under the law, the plaintiff most show that the driver breached a duty owed to other drivers, and that the breach caused damages to the plaintiff. Traffic citations for actions such as speeding or reckless driving may help show that a defendant driver acted in an unsafe manner. Resolving to avoid aggressive driving behavior can keep you safer and reduce your risk of being blamed for causing an accident.
Liability in Criminal Road Rage in Ohio
There is another reason to avoid aggressive driving: Half of drivers victimized by aggressive-driving behavior admit to returning aggression. Hand signals, honking the horn in agitation, swerving, hard acceleration or slamming on the brakes represent the borderline area where aggressive driving sometimes becomes a criminal offense. When a collision occurs in such cases, and one party is clearly to blame, liability is often more clearly established and the primary focus becomes determining damages and negotiating with the at-fault party's insurance company.
In some of these cases, insurance companies may claim a lack of coverage for an intentional criminal offense. In most of these cases, the defendant's insurance company will also argue that the plaintiff was negligent and/or instigated the road incident. C.S. 2315.33 Ohio Revised Code governs contributory fault in Ohio. It limits recovery when a plaintiff is found partially at fault and bars recovery entirely if plaintiff is found more at fault than defendant.
This means quickly separating yourself from an aggressive driver is the best course of action, both for your own safety and to protect your legal rights. Take the next exit and park in a safe, well-populated area to call for help if needed. Our Ohio car accident lawyers know summertime is prime travel time and we encourage you to enjoy all Ohio has to offer. A little extra patience will go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe.