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Top 10 driving mistakes that can hurt your personal injury case

may_article1Most people think of themselves as good drivers; however, seemingly small errors can cause serious accidents. Even if an accident appears to be the fault of another driver, your mistakes could end up costing you—due to a legal theory known as comparative negligence[1].

Comparative negligence provides for you and the other driver to share the cost of damages from an accident in proportion to your share of negligence. You can recover your damages, minus the percent caused by your own negligence. However, in Ohio, if you are more than 50 percent at fault, you may not recover any losses from the other driver. Defendants and insurance companies will try to prove that you contributed to your injury by engaging in careless behaviors such as these.

Top 10 Driving Mistakes

10. Not using headlights

In Ohio, you must turn on your headlights between sunset and sunrise; during rain, snow, fog or other unfavorable weather conditions (regardless of time of day); if you cannot see objects 1,000 feet ahead; and whenever windshield wipers are used. Keep in mind, if your car has automatic daytime running lights, you may need to turn on your headlights manually during the day to make sure your taillights are on as well.

9. Ignoring weather conditions

The chance being in a car accident increases dramatically during inclement weather. Rain, fog, snow and other weather conditions can have an impact on road conditions, cause diminished visibility, increase stopping distances and affect the conduct of other drivers.

8. Accelerating through yellow lights

Traffic lights should be simple. Green means go. Red means stop. However, contrary to the actions of many drivers, yellow does NOT mean to floor it. If you do not have time to cross through the intersection before the light turns red, you should stop on a yellow light. Additionally, if you’re waiting to make a left turn, you must yield to an oncoming driver who is within the intersection or so close to the intersection as to create an immediate hazard.

7. Rolling stops

Rolling through a stop sign is illegal, so make sure you come to a complete stop. That means no forward momentum and your speedometer reads zero. If you have a crosswalk or white stop bar, you are required to stop before it. If you cannot see, you must pull up and stop again at your point of vision.

6. Not merging properly

Merging safely into traffic is the responsibility of the person doing the merging. Ohio law states that merging motorists must yield the right-of-way to existing traffic and adjust their speed accordingly. However, there is no law prohibiting those in the main flow of traffic from being polite. If you can do so safely, consider pulling over into the next lane or adjust your speed to accommodate merging vehicles.

5. Tailgating

Aside from being annoying to the driver in front of you, tailgating is illegal and dangerous. Allow no less than 2 seconds between vehicles during the daytime, 3 seconds at night, and 4 seconds during inclement weather such as during rain, snow, or icy conditions. Remember, if someone is tailgating you, don’t slam on the brakes. If you brake-check and it causes an accident, you could be charged with assault.

4. Speeding

The logic is simple: the faster you drive, the less time you have to avoid a crash. When an accident occurs, excessive speed also increases the severity of injuries and property damage. Keep in mind there are times when it is not safe to drive at the speed limit, including rain, fog, an accident or traffic congestion.

3. Failure to signal

When operating a vehicle, you have a duty to signal your intentions in a manner that is visible to other drivers, so they have enough time to react. In Ohio, a motorist must give a turn signal or intention to turn left or right continuously during at least the last one hundred feet traveled before turning.

2. Drunk driving

Thanks to dedicated efforts, rates of drunk driving and alcohol-involved fatal crashes have gone down in recent years. However, about one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver. Remember, even one drink can impair driving ability and increase the risk of a crash.

1. Distracted driving

As the fatality rate from impaired driving continues to decline, the danger of distracted driving is worsening. Among driving distractions, texting is extremely dangerous because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver.

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t try to go up against the insurance company alone. Contact an Ohio personal injury attorney who has experience with comparative negligence claims. A personal injury lawyer in Ohio can assess your case, provide you with guidance on how to proceed with your claim and help you to receive the compensation to which you are entitled.



[1] Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2315.33 – The contributory fault of a person does not bar the person as plaintiff from recovering damages that have directly and proximately resulted from the tortious conduct of one or more other persons, if the contributory fault of the plaintiff was not greater than the combined tortious conduct of all other persons from whom the plaintiff seeks recovery in this action and of all other persons from whom the plaintiff does not seek recovery in this action. The court shall diminish any compensatory damages recoverable by the plaintiff by an amount that is proportionately equal to the percentage of tortious conduct of the plaintiff as determined pursuant to section 2315.34 of the Revised Code.